Davd Platt: From Aston Villa to Bari
These are the introductory paragraphs of an article of mine originally published on the pages of Les Rosbifs, a website which looks at the fortunes of Englishmen plying their trade and seeking their fortunes beyond their home shores. The entire text can be found here.
At the end of the 1991-92 Serie A season, a cursory glance at the league table and goalscoring chart would have offered little in the way of surprise. Milan had won the league, eight points clear of Juventus in second place. Those two teams also provided the top two goalscorers, Marco van Basten and Roberto Baggio respectively. The goalscoring chart was in fact decorated with the names of some of the best marksmen of the era; Careca, Gabriel Batistuta, Karl-Heinz Riedle, Gianfranco Zola, Beppe Signori and Gianluca Vialli all featured on it. And with just one goal less than Zola and the same tally as Signori and Vialli was the name of one of the most highly regarded players of the previous year’s World Cup: David Platt. The same David Platt, who had been wanted by Juventus and ended up at a Bari team that had made the climb up from Serie B just two years earlier and were now, despite their star’s best efforts, returning to the second tier of Italian football.
Platt’s transfer to Bari almost didn’t go through. Having just finished the season two places above the relegation zone with Aston Villa, Platt understandably had reservations about joining a club that had reached no better than the equivalent position in Italy’s top flight. Platt was growing accustomed to scaling football’s heights. He and Villa had ended the 1989-90 campaign in 2nd place and earned a spot in the squad for Italia ’90, where England had reached the semi-finals. That Italy had been the stage on which Platt had offered irrefutable proof of his talents before a global audience with his dynamic performances and three goals, including one against the hosts in the third-place play-off, would not have been lost on the man himself. Platt had gone on to prove his worth against Italian opposition once more that year, scoring in Aston Villa’s 2-3 aggregate defeat to Internazionale in the 2nd round of the 1990-91 UEFA Cup. If there was any one country outside Britain where his stock was high enough to secure him a contract at a club with European pedigree, surely that country was Italy. Fully cognisant of both his worth as a footballer and the brevity of his chosen career, Platt worked to have a clause guaranteeing him the right to join another Italian club at season’s end inserted into his contract. Thus, after a period of protracted negotiations, Platt eventually completed his moved to Bari in the summer of 1991, confident that in a year’s time he would be lining up alongside and not merely against Serie A’s elite.