Have You Played… Championship Manager 2 Italia?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Football Manager didn’t always come with such a huge selection of leagues and nations. Back in the early days of its life as Championship Manager, leagues were separate games on separate discs: one for England and Scotland; one for France, Germany, Spain; and one, which I had and loved, for Italy.

As far as I can tell, Italia wasn’t ever sold as a standalone edition, but was bundled on a separate discs with certain copies – perhaps a yearly update – of the base Championship Manager 2. A friend of mine had bought the game and found he had two free discs containing Italia inside, and so he sold me one of them for £2. I took it home and fell in love.

I was already obsessed with football at the time and looked forward to watching Channel 4’s Football Italia every weekend. That meant that I knew all the player names, much more so than I did those in the English league, and I could speed through a season or two which watching the world’s slowest, most defensive football on TV. I had multiple epic careers, the longest of which lasted into 20-something seasons, and I still remember the plotlines and regens that kept me so fascinated.

Unfortunately – or perhaps luckily – you can’t ever go back. I still own the same CM2 Italia CD, but some form of dilapidated DRM error stops it from booting. I’ve bought new copies, but to no avail. Even when I can get a version of it run, the database doesn’t quite match up to my memory – players in the wrong place, a season or so changed from the starting points I remember – or the menu buttons are square when they ought to be rectangular.


  1. Anthile says:

    Man, Juventus had one hell of a lineup in ’97.

    • Lacessit says:

      It’s funny that out of all those delicious artists, the ones that are ‘wanted’ are Tacchinardi and Jugovic.

    • ikehaiku says:

      One got to wonder why they felt the need to play the “+1/+1 card” with this line-up…

  2. Moth Bones says:

    At the time I wanted this but COULD NOT FIND IT. Imagine that happening with a computer game now.

  3. Telkir says:

    Championship Manager 2 for the Amiga (link to footballmanager.wikia.com) was simple yet amazing fun, especially for someone like me who wasn’t (and still isn’t) much of a foot-to-ball person. I wish there were more sims like it around today, instead of the endless versions of Football Manager 20## which seem to suffer from incrementally horrendous stat bloat and progressively more non-match drudge.

    • OneCardLarry says:

      Absolutely, the basic unit of a football manager game is a season, not a match.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Yep, and it’s certainly not a press conference. The OP is right, too much unnecessary bloat just piled into Football Manager the last few years. IMO SI hit the mark with the last Champ Manager (03-04) and the first football manager. Those games were incredible.

    • Paul B says:

      Back in those days you could go through a whole season using the same formation, and if you used the special cheat formation you’d win every game. (Sigh). Now, Champ Man is a big, bloated beast that requires your full attention for every single match….

      Now get off my lawn! :)

    • Gothnak says:

      You speak the wise… Championship Manager back then was for people who wanted to pick players with higher stats and high form and stick them in a formation that allowed them all to play. Now it’s all offside traps, acceleration, man marking vs zonal, counter attacks, target men, aggression…zzz….snore…

      So many stats so that when i win or lose a match i have no idea why… Oh for the days that when i didn’t score, i’d buy someone with a higher shooting stat and that was about it :).

    • Jimbo says:

      It was Champ Man 2 for me as well. I find Football Manager Handheld to be a lot closer to what I want out of one of these games than the proper FM games.

  4. mpk says:

    Myself and my two best friends used to do all nighters playing this together, waaaaaaaay back. It not only introduced me to the Champ series, but also to enjoyment killing bugs – no Europe for anyone finishing second in the league, your team roster being filled up with youth players you couldn’t get rid of, making it impossible to recruit.

    Couldn’t tell you who was in my team back then, but Inter Milan have since become the Italian team I follow, despite finishing second in in the league in most of the seasons we played, only getting into Europe the year I came third.

    • Gerbick says:

      I had the regen/youth problem too. Every game, after about 10 seasons or so, all squads were full so nobody could buy or sell. Very annoying.

  5. Llewyn says:

    Sigh. WordPress doesn’t want me to tell you this Graham, but I think there might be two different versions, leading to your confusion when you replay it now.

    • Premium User Badge

      Graham Smith says:

      Yes, definitely. One that was sold separately, one that was given away with a CM2 Eng seasonal league update.

  6. 0positivo says:

    Wasn’t there some sort of football manager game from a while back that, if one kept playing after a certain date, would go absolutely haywire in its simulation, ending with average matches like 20 to 1, squad rosters formed exclusively from sibilings and other interesting absurdities?

    • sinister agent says:

      This sounds less like a game that you played and more like some terrible interdimensional catastrophe.

      It does make football sound more interesting, though. Pity.

      • 0positivo says:

        AHA, found it!

        It’s called Premier Manager 99. I’m pretty sure the only recounts of this bug-ridden mess, where the family Minotti has a player in the goalkeeping, central defence, left and right defence, midfield AND left wing attack, where the only team that can score is the one not hosting the match, where there are only 3 shots to the goal, but 9 goals scored, where players can have up to 10 yellow cards before they’re finally noticed and kicked out of the field (forever! They don’t come back!), where sometimes a team fields 13 players, where legends like StAfano play to the age of 71 and where the current date of this particular playthrough is 2751… is unfortunately only in Italian

        I’d link it, but I’m not sure how the linking policy works here. It should be pretty easy to find anyways

    • LionsPhil says:

      Reminds me of the kind of stuff Jon Bois did to basketball, which as in The Sunday Papers. He’s broken football too, so it’s possible he found how to destroy soccer as well.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        2-0 in a basketball match is absolutely something to behold, i’ve played some basket myself in my youth and i’d totally become a legend in the league in this nightmare scenario.

  7. edwardoka says:

    Oh goodness yes. This got played to bits, although as Scots we preferred the English version(!?)

    The very first CM game I played was CM’Italia 1992 I think.
    The last CM I didn’t bounce off was CM2.. 97/98 I think?

    For those few years in between, me and a couple of friends would spend a great many hours every day, firstly on my Amiga, playing the various CM1 databases (I have particularly fond memories of the Man Utd/Blackburn/Cambridge Utd hotseat saved game we had)

    After I upgraded to a PC we migrated to CM2 and the whole world was fleshed out, (sadly the game-breakingly awesome 3-1-2-1-3 formation o’death + £10k win bonus pairing didn’t make the leap)

    When I came back to it, I bounced off CM3 because the training system was too detailed for my tactical naïveté/dopamine receptors, and I couldn’t get into any of the later instalments because the illusion was broken by then.

    I have two editions of FM (2011 and 2013) sitting in my Steam backlog that I picked up in sales but they’re pretty far down the list. One day…

  8. sonofsanta says:

    Even more specifically, I had a demo disc of CM Italia on my Amiga that only let you play 2/3 of a season. I became utterly obsessed with it, likewise splicing it with Saturday morning episodes of Football Italia (GOOOOOOOALACCIO!).

    Even now I have a bizarrely specific knowledge of teams and players in Serie A/B at the time. Fiorentina were always a good bet for a Serie B side, I’d always try and buy David Platt from Sampdoria, but at the end of the day you were best off playing as AC Milan with Marco van Basten up front.

  9. heyheynaar says:

    I remember playing CM Italia, I think it was 95, spent far too long playing that game, the joys of discovering that a team with no wide players performed much better than a balanced team. This and James Richardson on Channel 4, truly the glory days of Italian Football

  10. drewski says:

    I had an, erm, “evaluation” version of this that always crashed after two seasons.

    So I only got to play two seasons with a club. To make it challenging, I’d resign from my job immediately after the conclusion of the second season, apply for any vacant job, then start a new game with whatever team first offered me a place. Heaps of fun.

    I then legitimately bought CM3 as soon as it came out, even hunting down the best mailorder gaming sites in the UK that would ship to Australia, and was then addicted to the series for about a decade. Even now, a new FM release makes me wonder if I should dip back in…

  11. alms says:

    All hail CM 97/98. I stayed with lucchese through thick and thin, 20 years, but we went from the lowest division to Champion’s League. Fuck the big names, games like this are not for celebrating some overpaid kicker of balls with the personality of a greedy, match fixing stone slab, but rather to create your own heroes and stories.

    • DrollRemark says:

      Ah, Dale Watkins, you Conference hero. You got me to the top, and I’ll never forget you.

      • samdodgeman says:

        One of my favourite aspects of Championship Manager games was the completely unknown wonderkids who popped up on forums. Guys like 04/05(?)’s Supat Rungratsamee – 18 years old, guaranteed you 40 league goals a season for about 15 years. Made you unstoppable. Sadly, as a result of SI’s improved scouting network, those kind of little anomalies don’t really exist any more. The game is more accurate, sure, but I loved finding those players.
        Ibrahima Bakoyoko, we hardly knew ye.