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Joe Tacopina: All Westport Roads Lead To Roma

In the hard-hitting world of criminal defense lawyers, Joe Tacopina hits harder than almost anyone.

His website pulls no punches.

“Mr. Tacopina is to the defense bar what Donald Trump is to real estate,” reads a what-the-hell-does-that-mean? quote from the New York Times.

“That guy works magic. He is the real deal. He’s not to be messed with,” burbles Imus.

And this, from GQ:

Suspected of murdering that blond girl in Aruba? Having some problems with your appointment as homeland-security chief? Made the mistake of having sex with Christie Brinkley’s husband? Call Joe Tacopina, the best-dressed, smoothest-talking, hardest-working criminal-defense attorney going…

Joe Tacopina (Photo/Nancy Siesel for the New York Times)

Last June Tacopina — a Westporter and the father of 5 children, including a soon-to-be Staples graduate — gave the parent speech at baccalaureate. He described his rags-to-riches life, including an anecdote about working so hard for so little money early in his career that he took on a 2nd job: checking coats at Longshore. (The worst part: seeing other attorneys there — or clients.)

Now Tacopina is following the lead of the latest trend: what the Times calls “American moneymen” buying world-famous soccer teams. The list includes Malcolm Glazer (Manchester United) and Randy Lerner (Aston Villa).

Tacopina is part of a group that in August bought 60% of legendary Italian club A.S. Roma. The club is valued at $400 million.

According to a story in yesterday’s Times, Tacopina has a “life-long obsession” with Roma. Seven years ago, watching a match, he had an epiphany.

The scoreboard didn’t work; I wanted to buy my children some jerseys, but there were none on sale; and it was dirty,” he said. “I started writing notes to myself on a napkin that had been around a flatbread sandwich. Why not find a group to buy it?

Tacopina is now vice president of the club. He’s helped overhaul the team, adding youthful players to the mix of veterans that includes big names like Francesco Totti.

According to the Times,

the club’s new owners believe Roma is well positioned to emerge as the next big global brand in soccer. It is a club located at a unique intersection of global culture. The ownership’s idea is to increase revenue by investing in players who deliver results on the field that further increase revenue.

Part of the plan is a proposal for a new stadium, tied to Italy’s intention to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, to replace the crumbling, fan-unfriendly Estadio Olimpico, where a running track keeps the fans far from the action and another team, Lazio, shares the facility.

Tacopina is well positioned to help bring back Roma’s glory years. His father — who died last week at 94 — emigrated to the US from Rome. The club’s fans have displayed a banner that says: “Tacopina Uno di Noi, Grazie Joe“– Thanks, Joe. You’re one of us!

As a Westporter, I’m excited that one of us has taken a big step onto the international soccer stage.

As the Staples soccer coach, I’d be even more excited if he brings a 17-year-old player from Roma’s youth team to spend next fall in the Tacopinas’ Westport home.

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