Hellas Verona F.C.

Verona
HellasVerona.png
Full name Hellas Verona Football Club
Nickname(s) Gialloblu (Yellow-Blues),
Mastini (Mastiffs);
Scaligeri
Founded 1903
Ground Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi,
Verona, Italy
(Capacity: 39,211)
Chairman Giovanni Martinelli
Manager Andrea Mandorlini
League Serie B
2010–11 Lega Pro Prima Divisione A, 5th (promoted by play-off)
Home colours
Away colours

Hellas Verona Football Club (commonly known simply as Verona, or Hellas within the city of Verona itself) is a professional Italian association football team, based in Verona, Veneto. The team's colours are yellow and blue and gialloblu (literally, "yellow-blue" in Italian) is the team's most widely used nickname. The colours represent the city itself and Verona's emblem (a yellow cross on a blue shield) appears on most team apparel. Two more team nicknames are Mastini (the mastiffs) and Scaligeri, both references to Mastino I della Scala of the Della Scala princes that ruled the city during the 13th and 14th centuries.

The Scala family coat of arms is depicted on the team's jersey and on its trademark logo as a stylized image of two large, powerful mastiffs facing opposite directions. In essence, the term "scaligeri" is synonymous with Veronese, and therefore can describe anything or anyone from Verona (e.g., Chievo Verona, a different team that also links itself to the Scala family – specifically to Cangrande della Scala).

Hellas Verona have won one Italian Championship, in 1984–85. Since 1963 the club have played at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi, which has a capacity of 39,211.

Contents

History

Origins and early history

Founded in 1903 by a group of high school students, the club was named Hellas (the Greek word for Greece), at the request of a professor of Classics.[citation needed] At a time in which football was played seriously only in the larger cities of the Northwest of Italy, most of Verona was indifferent to the growing sport. However, when in 1906 two city teams chose the city's Roman amphitheatre as a venue to showcase the game, crowd enthusiasm and media interest began to rise.

During these first few years Hellas was one of three or four area teams playing mainly at a municipal level while fighting against city rivals Bentegodi to become the city's premier football outfit. By the 1907–1908 season, Hellas was playing against regional teams and an intense rivalry with Vicenza Calcio that lasts to this day was born.

From 1898 to 1926 Italian football was organised into regional groups. In this period Hellas was one of the founding teams of the early league and often among its top final contenders. In 1911, the city helped Hellas replace the early, gritty football fields with a proper venue. This allowed the team to take part in its first regional tournament, which until 1926, was the qualifying stage for the national title.

In 1919, following a return to activity after a four year suspension of all football competition in Italy during World War I the team merged with city rival Verona and changed its name to Hellas Verona. Between 1926 and 1929 the elite "Campionato Nazionale" assimilated the top sides from the various regional groups and Hellas Verona joined the privileged teams, yet struggled to remain competitive.

Serie A, as it is structured today, began in 1929, when the Campionato Nazionale turned into a professional league. Still an amateur team, Hellas merged with two city rivals, Bentegodi and Scaligera, to form AC Verona. Hoping to build a first class contender for future years the new team debuted in Serie B in 1929. It would take the gialloblu 28 years to finally achieve their goal. After first being promoted to Serie A for one season in 1957–58, in 1959 the team merged with another city rival (called Hellas) and commemorated its beginnings by changing its name to Hellas Verona AC.

Success in the 1970s and 1980s

Coached by Nils Liedholm, the team returned to Serie A in 1968 and remained in the elite league almost without interruption until 1990. Along the way it scored a famous 5–3 win in the 1972–1973 season that cost AC Milan the scudetto (the Serie A title). The fact that the result came late during the last matchday of the season makes the sudden and unexpected end to the rossoneri's title ambitions all the more memorable.

In 1973–1974 Hellas finished the season in 4th last place thus avoiding relegation, but were sent down to Serie B during the summer months as a result of a scandal involving team president Saverio Garonzi. After a year in Serie B Hellas Verona returned to Serie A.

In the 1975–1976 season the team had a successful run in the Coppa Italia, eliminating highly rated teams such as Torino, Cagliari, and Inter from the tournament. However, in their first ever final in the competition Hellas Verona were trounced 4–0 by Napoli.

Under the leadership of coach Osvaldo Bagnoli, in 1982–1983 the team secured 4th place in Serie A (its highest finish at the time) and even lead the Serie A standings for a few weeks. The same season Hellas again reached the Coppa Italia final. After a 2–0 home victory, Hellas Verona travelled to Turin to play Juventus but were defeated 3–0 after extra time.

Further disappointment followed in the 1983–1984 season when the team again reached the Coppa Italia final, only to lose the Cup in the final minutes of the return match against defending Serie A champions Roma.

1984–1985 Scudetto

Although the 1984–1985 squad was made up of a healthy mix of emerging players and mature stars, at the beginning of the season no one would have regarded the team as having the necessary ingredients to make it to the end. Certainly the additions of Hans-Peter Briegel in midfield and of Danish striker Preben Elkjær to an attack that already featured the wing play of Pietro Fanna, the creative abilities of Antonio Di Gennaro and the scoring touch of Giuseppe Galderisi were to prove crucial.

To mention a few of the memorable milestones on the road to the scudetto: a decisive win against Juventus (2–0), with a goal scored by Elkjær after having lost a boot in a tackle just outside the box, set the stage early in the championship; an away win over Udinese (5–3) ended any speculation that the team was losing energy at the midway point; three straight wins (including a hard fought 1–0 victory against a strong AS Roma side) served notice that the team had kept its polish and focus intact during their rival's final surge; and a 1–1 draw in Bergamo against Atalanta secured the title with a game in hand.

Hellas Verona finished the year with a 15–13–2 record and 43 points, 4 points ahead of Torino with Inter and Sampdoria rounding out the top four spots. This unusual final table of the Serie A (with the most successful Italian teams of the time, Juventus and AS Roma, ending up much lower than expected) has led to many speculations. The 1984/1985 season was the only season when referees were assigned to matches by way of a random draw. Before then each referee had always been assigned to a specific match by a special commission of referees (designatori arbitrali). After the betting scandal of the early 1980 (the Calcio Scommesse scandal) it was decided to clean up the image of Italian football by assigning referees randomly instead of picking them, in order to clear up all the suspicions and accusations always accompanying Italy's football life. This resulted in a quieter championship and in a completely unexpected final table. In the following season, won again by Juventus, the choice of the referees went back in the hands of the designatori arbitrali. In 2006 a major scandal in Italian football revealed that certain clubs had been illegally influencing the referee selection process, in an attempt to ensure that certain referees were assigned to their matches.

Between Serie A and Serie B

These were more than mere modest achievements for a mid-size city with a limited appeal to fans across the nation. But soon enough financial difficulties caught up with team managers. In 1991 the team folded and was reborn as Verona FC, regularly moving to and fro between Serie A and Serie B for several seasons. In 1995 the name was officially changed back to Hellas Verona FC.

After a three year stay, their last stint in Serie A ended in grief in 2002. That season emerging international talents such as Adrian Mutu, Mauro Camoranesi, Alberto Gilardino, Martin Laursen, Massimo Oddo, Marco Cassetti and coach Alberto Malesani failed to capitalize on an excellent start and eventually dropped into fourth-to-last place for the first time all season on the very last matchday, enforcing relegation into Serie B.

Recent years (2002 - )

Following the 2002 relegation to Serie B, team fortunes continued to slip throughout the decade. In the 2003–04 season Hellas Verona struggled in Serie B and spent most of the season fighting off an unthinkable relegation to Serie C1. Undeterred, the fans supported their team and a string of late season wins eventually warded off the danger. Over 5000 of them followed Hellas to Como on the final day of the season to celebrate.

In 2004–05 things looked much brighter for the team. After a rocky start Hellas put together a string of results and climbed to third spot. The gialloblù held on to the position until January 2005, when transfers weakened the team, yet they managed to take the battle for Serie A to the last day of the season.

The Serie B 2006-07 seemed to start well, due to the club takeover by Pietro Arvedi D'Emilei, which ended nine years of controversial rule by chairman Gianbattista Pastorello, heavily contested by the supporters in his later years at Verona. However, Verona was immediately involved in the relegation battle, and Massimo Ficcadenti was replaced in December 2006 by Giampiero Ventura. Despite a recovery in the results, Verona ended in an 18th place, thus being forced to play a two-legged playoff against 19th-placed Spezia in order to avert relegation. A 2–1 away loss in the first leg at La Spezia was followed by a 0–0 home tie, and Verona were relegated to Serie C1 after 64 years of play in the two highest divisions.

Verona appointed experienced coach Franco Colomba for the new season with the aim to return to Serie B as soon as possible. However, despite being widely considered the division favourite, the gialloblù spent almost the entire season in last place. After seven matches club management sacked Colomba in early October and replaced him with youth team coach (and former Verona player) Davide Pellegrini.[1] A new property acquired the club in late 2007, appointing in December Giovanni Galli as new director of football and Maurizio Sarri as new head coach. Halfway through the 2007–2008 season the team remained at the bottom of Serie C1, on the brink of relegation to the fourth level (Serie C2).[2] In response, club management sacked Sarri and brought back Pellegrini. Thanks to a late-season surge the scaligeri avoided direct relegation by qualifying for the relegation playoff, and narrowly averted dropping to Lega Pro Seconda Divisione in the final game, beating Pro Patria 2–1 on aggregate. However, despite the decline in results, attendance and season ticket sales remained on 15000 average.

For the 2008–09 season Verona appointed former Sassuolo and Piacenza manager Gian Marco Remondina, with the aim to win promotion to Serie B. However the season did not start impressively, with Verona being out of the playoff zone by mid-season, and club chairman Pietro Arvedi D'Emilei entering into a coma after being involved in a car crash on his way back from a league match in December 2008. Arvedi died in March 2009, two months after the club was bought by new chairman Giovanni Martinelli.

The following season looked promising, as new transfer players were brought aboard, and fans enthusiastically embraced the new campaign. Season ticket figures climbed to over 10,000, placing Verona ahead of several Serie A teams and all but Torino in Serie B attendance.[3] The team led the standings for much of the season, accumulating a seven-point lead by early in the spring. However, the advantage was gradually squandered, and the team dropped to second place on the second last day of the season, with a chance to regain first place in the final regular season match against Portogruaro on home soil. But Verona disappointed a crowd of over 25,000 fans [4] and, with the loss, dropped to third place and headed towards the playoffs. A managerial change for the postseason saw the firing of Remondina and the arrival of Giovanni Vavassori. After eliminating Rimini in the semi-finals (1–0; 0–0) Verona lost the final to Pescara (2–2 on home soil and 0–1 in the return match) and were condemned to a fourth straight year of third division.

Former Italia '90 star Giuseppe Giannini (a famous captain of Roma for many years) signed as manager for the 2010–11 campaign. Once again, the team was almost entirely revamped during the transfer season. The squad struggled in the early months and Giannini was eventually sacked and replaced by former Inter Milan defender Andrea Mandorlini, who succeeded in reorganizing the team's play and bringing discipline both on and off the pitch. In the second half of the season Verona climbed back from the bottom of the division to clinch a playoff berth (5th place) on the last day of the regular season. The team advanced to the playoff final after eliminating Sorrento in the semis (3-1 agg). Following the playoff final, after four years of Lega Pro, Hellas Verona were promoted back to Serie B after a 2-1 (agg) win over Salernitana on June 19, 2011.

On the European stage

The team made its first European appearance in 1983–1984 in the UEFA Cup and were knocked out in the second round of the tournament by Sturm Graz.[5] In 1986 Hellas Verona AC were eliminated from the European Cup by fellow Serie A side Juventus F.C. (the title holders after their victory the previous year over Liverpool). In 1988 the team had its best international result when it reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals with four victories and three draws. The decisive defeat came from German side Werder Bremen.

Supporters

Apart from the many local fan clubs whose main role is (for example) to provide a meeting place for fans and friends and organize away trips, since the late 60s many Italian fans rely on organized stadium groups known as Ultras. The main goal is to choreograph fan support with flags, banners, coloured smoke screens, drums, and chanting in unison.

The best-known organized fan group of the team was called Brigate Gialloblù or "BG" (the "yellowblue brigades"). It came together in 1971 and no longer exists as such. Although to this day virtually all fans call themselves BG members when at the Bentegodi, today's hardcore BG group numbers about a few thousand members, mostly grouped under the name "Curva Sud". From producing flags large enough to cover the entire Curva Sud section (about a third of the stadium) to singing Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, the BG (and Hellas fans in general) are one of Italy's most respected supporters. They were responsible for introducing the British supporting style in Italy,[citation needed] putting aside drums and concentrating on catchy and powerful chants. The Brigate is made up of a collective of smaller supporters groups that have their own flags and position on the "Curva Sud", each with their own name. Some commemorate events, many are a play on words of the local Veneto dialect. The only officially recognised of these smaller groups, outside of Verona is based in London known as "Londra Stressata".

Their 'songbook' is Italy's largest,[citation needed] and increases every season with new songs (although at a slower pace than in the eighties, when new songs were appearing at nearly every home game). These songs are not only meant to support the club, but also to attack and insult the opponents. The BG are known to make themselves no limitations in this task. Everything, from physical defects to family tragedies, is used to make ironic songs meant to abuse an opponent player on the pitch or a rival crowd. Racist abuse of any kind has been largely used since the early eighties, resulting in the last seasons in several games played behind closed doors. However, only a small minority of Hellas supporters are militant fascist or openly racist. The majority use this kind of imagery and attitude only as a way to provoke, to mark their diversity from the rest of the crowds, and, for some, from the rest of the country. The fact that the same chants are used against white players who are also despised by the BG has not helped to prevent sanctions by the authorities, and the crowd is presently deeply divided about the use of such chants. Apart from racism, Verona chants can display a great amount of irony, also about themselves and their team.

The core ideology of the BG has always been "first the Brigate, then the Club". This has resulted in a relatively large group of hardcore, dedicated supporters, following the club everywhere without being particularly influenced by the often disappointing results of the team. After the relegation in the Serie C1 in the 2006/2007 season a stunning 10,000 season tickets were sold, almost 4000 more than in the previous season, when Piero Arvedi bought the club in September 2006 from Gianbattista Pastorello, ending the supporters' boycott campaign of the season ticket sales just a few days before its end.

Most Hellas fans have always kept football and politics apart, however right wing (Verona Front, Hellas Army) and left wing (Rude Boys) groups have always existed within the BG, as they do still among today's Hellas fans. Then and now, the wide majority of the fans are good-spirited and well behaved. However, small groups – among which also include right wing fascist extremists[citation needed] – aim to provoke trouble, cause public outrage and attract attention, regardless of the impact this has on the team.

Repeated incidents throughout the 1970s and 80s drew plenty of media attention and Verona was singled out as amongst the worst perpetrators. The founders and "hard-core" groups within the BG did what they could to keep younger members from emulating or joining the fascist extremists, yet decisive action clearly needed to be taken. After 20 years, in late 1991 the various BG groups unanimously decided to disband themselves completely in order to avoid the attempts of some judges who wanted to put the BG on trial for being a 'criminal organization'.

Today acts of violence are extremely rare and fans attend games to show their support for Hellas Verona. The large scale police repression of the Ultras movement following the murder of the police officer Filippo Raciti in Catania in February 2007 led to the disbanding of the organised 'Curva Sud' firm, along with the disappearance of the chant-launching supporters placed at the lower end of the Curva Sud. Chants are now started by the spontaneous initiative of every supporter.

Hellas Verona fans are twinned with the supporters of Fiorentina. The friendship dates back to the mid 80s, when several old viola crowd favourites (Antonio Di Gennaro, Luigi Sacchetti and Luciano Bruni) left Florence and won the scudetto with Hellas Verona. This long lasting relationship is a remarkable example of the 'unorthodox' attitude of the Hellas fans: Fiorentina supporters are largely left wing oriented, but this doesn't seem to bother both sides. In decades there have never been any tensions related to this difference in political views. They also have 'amicizie' (friendships) with Lazio, Triestina and Sampdoria. On international level the most important friendship is that with the Chelsea Headhunters, one of the oldest football friendships in the world, dating back to the second half of the seventies, when the visiting members of the Brigate were even allowed to show their away banner in the notorious Shed End of Chelsea's Stamford Bridge. A large number of the BG songs are taken from the Headhunters' repertoire[citation needed], with translated and adapted lyrics, often in dialect. When Chelsea played Verona's archrivals Vicenza in the Cup Winners' Cup in 1997, a large number of Hellas Verona supporters was present in the away section of the Stadio Romeo Menti in Vicenza together with the Chelsea fans. Other international friendships are with the Ultras Sur of Real Madrid, the Brigadas Blanquiazules of Espanyol, the Aberdeen supporters in Scotland and the now disbanded Boulogne Boys of Paris Saint Germain.

The gialloblu are bitter rivals of their neighbors Vicenza, Brescia and Atalanta, and of the traditional 'big three' Juventus, A.C. Milan (who lost two titles, in 1973 and 1990, after being beaten by Hellas Verona in the last matches of these seasons) and Inter (a long lasting friendship was broken in the year 2000). Furthermore, AS Roma, Genoa C.F.C. and several teams from the South of Italy, most notably Napoli are considered rivals. Virtually all the matches between Verona and Napoli held at the Bentegodi in the eighties and nineties reached the national headlines because of the heavy abuse of the Verona supporters against the Neapolitans, expressed in banners and choruses of racist content.


Derby with ChievoVerona

In the season 2001-02, both Hellas Verona and the city rivals of ChievoVerona were playing in the Italian football top league. The first ever derby of Verona in Serie A took place on 18th November 2001, while both teams were ranked among the top four. The match was won by the Hellas side, 3–2. Chievo got revenge in the return match in spring 2002, winning 2–1. The city of Verona became so the 5th city in Italy, after Milan, Rome, Turin and Genoa to host a derby (known as il derby della Scala) in Serie A.

Current squad

As of 31 August, 2011.

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Brazil GK Rafael
4 Italy MF Gennaro Esposito
5 Italy DF Luca Ceccarelli
6 France MF Matthias Lepiller (on loan from Fiorentina)
7 Italy MF Manuel Mancini
8 Italy MF Giuseppe Russo
9 Italy FW Nicola Ferrari
10 Iceland MF Emil Hallfreðsson
11 Austria FW Thomas Pichlmann
12 Brazil GK Nícolas
13 Italy DF Matteo Abbate
14 Italy MF Marco D'Alessandro (on loan from Roma)
16 Italy MF Niccolò Galli (on loan from Parma)
17 Paraguay DF Víctor Hugo Mareco (on loan from Brescia)
No. Position Player
19 Brazil MF Jorginho
20 Italy DF Andrea Doninelli (on loan from Genoa)
21 Argentina FW Juan Ignacio
22 Italy DF Domenico Maietta
23 Italy DF Francesco Cangi
25 Italy DF Massimiliano Scaglia
27 Italy FW Emanuele Berrettoni
32 Croatia FW Saša Bjelanović
32 Italy DF Dario Campagna
33 Italy DF Giuseppe Pugliese
57 Italy DF Felice Natalino (on loan from Inter)
69 Italy DF Davide Bertolucci
70 Italy GK Federico Davià
77 Greece MF Panagiotis Tachtsidis (on loan from Genoa)

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Italy FW Nicola Ciotola (to Como)
Burkina Faso DF Salif Dianda (to Ternana)
Panama MF Eric Herrera (to Avellino)
Italy FW Giuseppe Le Noci (to Cremonese)
Italy FW Ernesto Torregrossa (to Monza)

Honours

Serie A / Italian Football Championship:

Serie B

Coppa Italia :

  • Runners Up (3): 1976, 1983, 1984

Notable former players

This list of former players includes those who received international caps while or shortly after playing for the team or contributed to promotion seasons or to the 1984-5 scudetto.

Italy
Albania
Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Croatia
Denmark
France
Germany
Hungary
  • Hungary Mihaly Balacics
  • Hungary Sándor Peics
Iceland
Ivory Coast
Liechtenstein
Norway
  • Norway Finn Gundersen
Poland
Romania
Russia
San Marino
Senegal
Scotland
Serbia
Sweden
Switzerland
Uruguay
Wales

Notable coaches

References

  1. ^ "Punch-drunk Verona fire Colomba". Football Italia. 8 October 2007. Archived from the original on 1 December 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20071201124950/http://www.channel4.com/sport/football_italia/oct8f.html. Retrieved 14 November 2007. 
  2. ^ League table at betstudy.com
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Lega Pro 1/B: i tabellini della 34.a giornata". Data Sport. 9 May 2009. http://www.datasport.it/news/2010/maggio/9/26248/lega-pro-tabellini-34a-giornata.html. Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  5. ^ http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=1985/clubs/club=52301/history/index.html

Further reading

External links


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