Mens Team

The German Italian who lit up Maine Road

Born in Germany to Italian parentage, Maurizio Gaudino’s stay at City was relatively short, but the cultured playmaker left a lasting impression.

Gaudino added more than just a touch of flair and invention to the City midfield with his exotic array of flicks, tricks and individual skill and he was soon a big favourite among the City fans.

Gaudino arrived at City with a reputation of being something of a footballing rock star

Aged 21, he allegedly raced around his local neighbourhood in a Ferrari which, alongside his shades, leather jacket and flowing black curly locks, didn’t go down too well with the more reserved residents of Rheinau, near Frankfurt.

A gifted footballer, he played his football with a freedom and grace that today, would have put his price tag in the many millions – yet City had the option of capturing this free-spirited midfielder for just £1.5m when the loan ended.

He started his career with Mannheim, before moving to Stuttgart where his start rapidly began to rise alongside the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann, helping the Bundesliga side to a UEFA Cup final against Diego Maradona’s Napoli.

Indeed, perhaps feeling at home in the city where his parents had emigrated from, Gaudino arguably stole the show in the first leg in Naples, where a 2-1 loss gave the German side a great chance in the second leg.

But a 3-3 draw ended the dream and after one more season, he moved to Eintracht Frankfurt where he played alongside Tony Yeboah, Jay Jay Okocha and Uwe Bein. He soon came to the notice of the German national team manager Bertie Vogts and he was included in the World Cup squad for USA ’94.

But a fall out with his club coach led to refusal to play against SV Hamburg and a subsequent suspension and he soon found his way out to England after agreeing a loan deal with City. 

Free from the controversy and baggage he’d left back home and arriving with a clean slate to play for Brian Horton’s side must have been like a breath of fresh air for Gaudino who settled quickly into the side and formed a bond with the City fans who, of course, love nothing more than a touch of genius about their midfielders.

CITYZENS AT HOME

He made his debut in a surprise Coca-Cola Cup win at Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United just three days after signing on December 21, 1994 and scored his first goal for the Club against Notts County in an FA Cup replay in which Uwe Rosler scored the other four during a 5-1 win.

He sometimes skipped and waved like a child would after a good performance and seemed to be completely in his element and very much at home.

Back home in Germany, Gaudino had fraud accusations still to answer – he vehemently denied the charges – but in true Gaudino style, he’d been arrested shortly before joining City after roller-dancing with German ice skater Katrina Witt on a late night chat show.

Meanwhile, his on-pitch displays left the City fans demanding he be signed permanently, but despite 25 games and 4 goals under his belt and a host of top-notch displays, the permanent deal never materialised as manager Brian Horton was sacked by City at the end of the campaign.

It left Gaudino in a state of limbo and eventually he realised the deal was never going to happen as City’s search for a new manager lasted much of the ensuing summer months.

He eventually joined Mexican club America and Georgi Kinkladze signed a few weeks before the start of the new season, placating the somewhat bemused supporters who wondered what might have been if he’d been signed.

He loved life in the fast lane and he played his football with a joy of the game only the fortunate few are blessed with and he was very much a Manchester City-hero in waiting.

Kinkladze and Gaudino - now there’s a midfield partnership…

Illustration: Ben Wild

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