Franco Casalini, the moving memory of Ettore Messina

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Franco Casalini, the moving memory of Ettore Messina

The passing of Franco Casalini has deeply shaken Italian basketball. Ettore Messina wanted to remember him this way through Olimpia’s social channels, “In my first year as head coach in 1989, Franco Casalini was a young but already established coach. Besides being Dan Peterson’s historic and famous assistant in the Milan of the 1980s, he had already shown all his qualities as a winning coach. He had won the Champions Cup immediately in 1988 after the Intercontinental Cup.”

“It was the great Olimpia, but to repeat was a feat, and he had also replaced some elements of the old guard like Gallinari and Franco Boselli with younger players like Aldi and Montecchi, giving more space to the very young Pittis. In short, for all of us young coaches he was a model, he was someone who had made it. That year – I repeat my first as head coach – Casalini was the defending Italian champion and as such he had the right to coach at the All-Star Game.”

“He could have chosen any coach to be his assistant, chosen an established coach of the many who were coaching in those days, people who deserved recognition and showcases. Surprisingly, he chose me. I didn’t expect it. I don’t know why he made that decision, but I’ve always considered it a kind gesture, toward a rookie, which impressed me greatly. He gave me the opportunity to get to know the many great foreign champions who were playing in Serie A that season. I was forever grateful to him for that. So I got to know, in the intimacy of a game, a sweet, polite, loyal person, a very good coach who was modest in his attitudes despite the fact that he was already Casalini, the youngest Italian coach to have won a Champions Cup, someone who had made it year after year at a club like Olimpia.”

“In all the years that followed, even when our paths parted professionally, my feelings from the first moment were confirmed. Casalini was just that: kind, loyal and – I touched him with my own hands over the years – very much in love with Olimpia. I will always be able to say, with pride, saying goodbye to him, that it was great to be his assistant, even if only for one game,” Messina’s message concluded.

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