Arturo Lupoli – when Roeder’s Arsenal connection didn’t work out
PUBLISHED: 18:14 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 18:14 27 March 2020
Focus Images 2008
In the latest of our Cult Heroes series, head of sport Chris Lakey looks at the strange case of Arturo Lupoli.
Glenn Roeder often quoted from the book of Arsene Wenger when he was Norwich City manager.
He was hugely proud of the fact that he was linked with a move to Arsenal as director of football, in between managerial jobs at Newcastle and Carrow Road.
During his time at Norwich, Roeder pushed the loan system to its limits, and one of the many players he brought in was a former Arsenal starlet who clearly had bags of ability – he just needed it to be drawn out of him. Cue Roeder.
Arturo Lupoli had started his career at Parma, where he became one of Italy’s most prodigious young talents. He moved to Arsenal in 2004, but the climb up the ladder to senior football success was a tough one and he only shone occasionally and after a loan at Derby he made an ill-fated move to Fiorentina, where he never made an appearance.
In stepped Roeder who brought him in on loan for the 2008-09 campaign, a word in Arsene’s shell-like clearly having helped the decision..
Lupoli was still a bit of a name, but a sign of things to come may well have been evident when he said: “I am very happy to be here and hope to contribute for a great season for Norwich City and to be successful. I spoke to the manager and I really feel that he wants me here. I know a lot about Norwich City – I was with Arsenal when they and my team-mate David Bentley were in the Premier League and have followed their progress.”
Bentley, you may remember, is the player who allegedly upset Nigel Worthington during training by kicking the ball high into the air and shouting “‘Av It!” – Peter Kay’s comedy sketches weren’t welcome in training so Bentley’s recommendation might not have been the best.
Lupoli got off the mark in his fourth game, a Championship match at Cardiff. City were 2-0 down – to a brace of goals by a certain Ross McCormack – when Lupoli rescued them, scoring in the 77th and 81st minutes to snatch a point.
Two games later he scored in a 2-1 win at Plymouth, but from then on it was all very sporadic – he ended the season with six league goals and one in the FA Cup. It wasn’t working out. Which was a shame, because there was clearly a player trying to get out.
Lupoli spoke well: when he appeared once to speak to the media, he wore thick, white-framed spectacles, which was a bit of a surprise, but he was clear and reasonable.
But things did become strained: for a while, his relationship with Roeder was difficult and when there’s a perceived baddie against a goodie, it is often the latter who wins with the fans.
Lupoli was wanted by them, if not by his manager, as evidenced by that FA Cup game, at Charlton, when supporters spent most of the match chanting his name. You sensed there was a battle of wills going on here, and when Roeder called Lupoli off the bench to replace Darel Russell with 64 minutes gone, it looked like the manager might have been trying to prove a point. To prove he was right not to be starting the player.
City were a goal down – seven minuets later Lupoli equalised to force a replay.
Who was the winner? Well, Charlton won the replay at Carrow Road and Roeder was subsequently sacked.
Was it Lupoli? Did he just extend given Roeder a stay of execution?
We never got much of a chance to see if he’d thrive under a different manager: frustrated at the lack of games, Lupoli’s contract was terminated the following month.
He went to Sheffield United on loan until the end of the season, but it was a disappointing spell, and his career has since drifted down to lower leagues in Italy.
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