Hellas Verona F.C.
|Full name||Hellas Verona Football Club|
Gialloblu (Yellow-Blues) |
gli Scaligeri (The Scaligers)
i butei ("the boys" in Veronese dialect)
|Ground||Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, Verona|
|2015–16||Serie A, 20th (relegated)|
|Website||Club home page|
Hellas Verona Football Club (commonly known simply as Verona, or Hellas within the city of Verona itself) is a professional Italian football club, based in Verona, Veneto. The team won the Serie A Championship in 1984–85, and currently plays in Serie B.
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. 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 1907–08 season, Hellas was playing against regional teams and an intense rivalry with Vicenza 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 1972–73 season that cost 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 1973–74, Hellas finished the season in fourth-last, just narrowly avoiding relegation, but were nonetheless 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 returned to Serie A.
In the 1975–76 season, the team had a successful run in the Coppa Italia, eliminating highly rated teams such as Torino, Cagliari and Internazionale from the tournament. However, in their first ever final in the competition, Hellas were trounced 4–0 by Napoli.
Under the leadership of coach Osvaldo Bagnoli, in 1982–83 the team secured a fourth-place in Serie A (its highest finish at the time) and even led 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 then travelled to Turin to play Juventus but were defeated 3–0 after extra time.
Further disappointment followed in the 1983–84 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
The team made its first European appearance in the 1983-84 UEFA Cup and were knocked out in the second round of the tournament by Sturm Graz. Hellas were eliminated from the 1985–86 European Cup in the second round by defending champions and fellow Serie A side Juventus after a contested game, the result of a scandalous arbitrage by the French Wurtz, having beaten PAOK of Greece in the first round.
In 1988, the team had their best international result when they reached the UEFA Cup quarterfinals with four victories and three draws. The decisive defeat came from German side Werder Bremen.
Although the 1984–85 season squad was made up of a 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 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 finished the year with a 15–13–2 record and 43 points, four points ahead of Torino with Internazionale 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 Roma, ending up much lower than expected) has led to many speculations. The 1984–85 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, 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, 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.
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 capitalise 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.
Decline and Serie A comeback (2002–2016)
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 5,000 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 2006–07 Serie B seemed to start well, due to the club takeover by Pietro Arvedi D'Emilei, which ended nine years of controversial leadership under 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 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. 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 2007–08 season, the team remained at the bottom of Serie C1, on the brink of relegation to the fourth level (Serie C2). 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 play-off, 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 15,000 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. 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. Verona, however, disappointed a crowd of over 25,000 fans and, with the loss, dropped to third place and headed towards the play-offs. A managerial change for the post-season 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 football.
Former 1990 World Cup 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 Internazionale defender Andrea Mandorlini, who succeeded in reorganising 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 play-off berth (fifth place) on the last day of the regular season. The team advanced to the play-off final after eliminating Sorrento in the semi-finals 3–1 on aggregate. Following the play-off final, after four years of Lega Pro football, Verona were promoted back to Serie B after a 2–1 aggregate win over Salernitana on 19 June 2011.
On 18 May 2013, Verona finished second in Serie B and were promoted to Serie A after an 11-year absence. Their return to the top flight began against title contenders Milan and Roma, beating the former 2–1 and losing to the latter 3–0. The team continued at a steady pace, finishing the first half of the season with 32 points and sitting in sixth place—11 points behind the closest UEFA Champions League spot—and tied with Internazionale for the final UEFA Europa League spot. Verona, however, ultimately finished the year in tenth.
During the 2015–16 season, Verona hadn't won a single match since the beginning of the campaign until the club edged Atalanta 2–1 on 3 February 2016 in a win at home; coming twenty-three games into the season. Consequently, Verona were relegated from Serie A.
Colours and badge
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 stylised 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., ChievoVerona, a different team that also links itself to the Scala family – specifically to Cangrande I della Scala).
Since 1963, the club have played at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, which has a capacity of 39,211. The ground is shared with Hellas' rivals, ChievoVerona. It was used as a venue for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
Derby with Chievo Verona
The intercity fixtures against Chievo Verona are known as the "Derby della Scala." The name refers to the Scaligeri or della Scala aristocratic family, who were rulers of Verona during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance. In the season 2001–02, both Hellas Verona and the city rivals of Chievo Verona were playing in the Serie A. The first ever derby of Verona in Serie A took place on 18 November 2001, while both teams were ranked among the top four. The match was won by Hellas, 3–2. Chievo got revenge in the return match in spring 2002, winning 2–1. Verona became so the fifth city in Italy, after Milan, Rome, Turin and Genoa to host a cross-city derby in Serie A.
- Serie A:
- Champions (1): 1984–85
- Serie B:
- Coppa Italia:
- Runners-up (3): 1976, 1983, 1984
- 1980–87: Adidas
- 1987–89: Hummel
- 1989–91: Adidas
- 1991–95: Uhlsport
- 1995–00: Errea
- 2000–03: Lotto
- 2003–06: Legea
- 2006–13: Asics
- 2013–present: Nike
- 1982–86: Canon
- 1986–89: Ricoh
- 1989–96: Rana
- 1996–97: Ferroli
- 1997–98: ZG Camini Inox
- 1998–99: Atreyu Immobiliare
- 1999–00: Salumi Marsilli
- 2000–01: Net Business
- 2001–02: Amica Chips
- 2002–06: Clerman
- 2006–07: Unika
- 2007–08: No sponsor
- 2008–10: Giallo
- 2010–11: Banca Di Verona/Sicurint Group, Protec/Consorzio Asimov
- 2011–12: AGSM/Sicurint Group, Protec/Leaderform
- 2012–13: AGSM, Leaderform
- 2013–14: Franklin & Marshall/Manila Grace, AGSM/Leaderform
- 2014–15: Franklin & Marshall, AGSM/Leaderform
- 2015–present: Metano Nord, Leaderform
First team squad
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
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- 1998 Verona in volo, lo sponsor a picco
- "Rosa". Hellas Verona F.C. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
- Parks, Tim (2002). A Season with Verona: Travels around Italy in search of illusion, national character and goals. London: Secker & Warburg. ISBN 0436275953.
- Official website (Italian)