|Full name||Unione Sportiva Lecce SpA|
|Founded||15 March 1908|
Stadio Via del Mare,|
Lecce, Apulia, Italy
|Head Coach||Pasquale Padalino|
|2015–16||Lega Pro/C, 3rd|
Unione Sportiva Lecce or simply US Lecce or Lecce is an Italian football club based in Lecce. Currently it plays in Lega Pro, the third tier of the Italian football pyramid and plays its home games at Stadio Via del Mare which has a capacity of 40,670 people.
The club was formed in 1908 and has spent a large part of their recent history bouncing between Italy's second division and Serie A, where the team debuted in the 1985–86 season. Its best Serie A finish is the 9th place obtained in the 1988–89 season. The club is 27th in the Serie A all-time table and is the second club from Apulia as regards appearances in the first two tiers of Italian football, with 15 Serie A seasons and 25 Serie B seasons.
Lecce players and fans are nicknamed salentini or simply giallorossi or lupi.
Lecce was founded as Sporting Club Lecce on 15 March 1908, initially including football, track-and-field and cycling sports. The first club president was Francesco Marangi. The first colours worn by Lecce during this time were black and white stripes, known in Italy as bianconeri.
In its formative years, Lecce played in mostly regional leagues and competitions. During the 1923/24 season the club broke up, before coming back on 16 September 1927 as Unione Sportiva Lecce. The club were still wearing black and white stripes (similar to Juventus) at this point, and the first president under the name Unione Sportiva Lecce was Luigi Lopez y Rojo.
League: Early years 1930s, 40s and 50s
Taranto Sport played Lecce in a game for promotion to Serie B from the local Southern Italian league, Lecce were victorious winning 3–2 after extra time. They were entered into Serie B for the 1929/30 season, the first game they played in the league was against Novara Calcio on 6 October 1929, which they won 2–1. They would eventually finish 13th. But for the second time in the clubs history, it ceased activity at the end of the 1931–32 season.
Four years later, Lecce came back and went into Serie C, finishing 11th in their return season. Around this time the club was in turmoil, the following season they withdrew from Serie C after four days, and then during the 1938–39 season they finished in 3rd place but were moved down to 12th after it was revealed that the club had violated the league's federal regulations.
The club finished 1st during the 1943–44 season, but club football was suspended for the Second World War. Nonetheless, when club football resumed they finished as champions of Serie C once more, gaining promotion back into Serie B. Two decent seasons followed (finishing 4th and 3rd in respective seasons), with star Silvestri scoring 20 goals in one season, before the club were relegated.
Lecce stayed down in Serie C for six seasons during this period, though this was not a particularly successful time for the club, striker Anselmo Bislenghi scored 83 goals for the club during this period, thus becoming a hero. The club slipped even lower to Serie IV where they spent three years.
Seventeen seasons of Serie C: 1960s, 70s and 80s
From 1959 to 1975, Lecce had seventeen seasons in Serie C. They came extremely close to promotion several times during that period, finishing second three seasons in a row (1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74) before gaining promotion in the 1975–76 season.
During 1980 a scandal occurred which rocked Italian football, including Lecce under president Franco Jurlano. However, Jurlano was able to demonstrate his innocence and the[scandal only lead to disqualification of the player Claudius Merlo. Later, the club was struck by a tragedy in 1983, players Michele Lo Russo and Ciro Pezzella died in an automotive accident. To this day, Lo Russo remains the club record holder for most number of appearances with 415.
Promotion to Serie A: mid-1980s and 90s
Under the management of Eugenio Fascetti, Lecce would achieve promotion to Serie A for the first time in 1985. They finished bottom and were relegated after only one season, but defeated Roma 3–2 away in the penultimate game to deal a fatal blow to Roma's title hopes. Losing a promotion play-off 2–1 to Cesena the following season, they would return to Serie A in 1988.
Under Carlo Mazzone, Lecce finished a respectable 9th place in 1989. Stars of the side included striker Pedro Pasculli and midfielders Antonio Conte and Paolo Benedetti. They lasted three seasons before relegation, and returned two years later. Season 1993–94 saw Lecce finish last with a pitiful 11 points, the lowest ever of any Serie A team, and a second relegation came the following year.
Giampiero Ventura saw Lecce achieve successive promotions before leaving for Cagliari. Once more, it proved a struggle in Serie A despite the best efforts of striker Francesco Palmieri and a famous away win against Milan on 19 October 1997.
In the summer of 1998 Pantaleo Corvino was appointed new sports director, gaining a reputation for scouting new talents in the years to come. The team were good enough to return to Serie A in 1999 and begin another three-year stint in the top-flight, with yet another return to Serie A in 2003.
Three years in Serie A (2003–2006)
In 2004, under Delio Rossi, who had been managing the club since 2002, Lecce achieved an impressive result, reaching a high-point of 10th despite a poor first half of the season. Famous performances include two sensational victories in a row, first against Italian giants Juventus 3–4 in Turin (the first ever win at Delle Alpi for Lecce) and then against Internazionale 2–1 at Via del Mare.
In 2004–05 coach Zdeněk Zeman oversaw a highly attack-minded team that scored plenty of goals. Lecce ended the year again finishing tenth, putting in the spotlight talents like Valeri Bojinov and Mirko Vučinić. The team had the second best attack with 66 goals (Juventus came first with 67) and the worst defence with 73 goals conceded. This is a record, as for the first time the team with the worst defence managed to survive in the history of Serie A.
The 2005–06 was a continual struggle for Lecce. The club changed its manager two times (Silvio Baldini for Angelo Adamo Gregucci and in January 2006 youth team coach Roberto Rizzo, supported by goalkeeper coach Franco Paleari, for Baldini). The numerous managerial moves could not turn Lecce's fortune as they were relegated with a few games to spare and ended the season in 19th place. In June 2006, Giovanni Semeraro returned at the helm of the club after nine months. The club re-appointed Zdeněk Zeman as manager, just one year after he had left the club.
Lecce were unable to avoid relegation from Serie A despite some initial hope due to the Serie A match-fixing scandal.
Two-year stint in Serie B and promotion
The club had a mixed start to the 2006–07 season in Serie B, winning three home games (including a win against early league leaders, Genoa), though they have suffered poor away form. After a large drop in form, recording 10 losses in 18 matches, Zeman was sacked as manager and replaced by Giuseppe Papadopulo. On 10 March 2007, Lecce clinched a historical victory over Frosinone, beaten 5–0 at Stadio Via del Mare. Having gained 36 points in the second-leg part of the season, Lecce ended the season in the middle of the table (9th place). In 2007 Lecce gained more points than any other team in Serie B.
The 2007–08 season saw Lecce fight for a place in the Italian Serie A for the next season. Despite earning 83 points (12 more than sixth-placed Pisa) and boasting the best defence in the tournament, the giallorossi were forced to face play-offs for promotion in the top flight. In the semi final they beat Pisa in both legs (1–0 away and 2–1 at home) to secure a place in the final against AlbinoLeffe. Then they won the first leg 1–0 away, before securing a 1–1 draw in the second leg at the Via del Mare to gain promotion.
Between Serie A and Serie B
After persistent rumours, Papadopulo quit due to a difference of opinion with the general manager of the club and was replaced by Mario Beretta, who had a quite satisfactory start in the 2008–09 Serie A season. He remained in charge for twenty-seven games, but, due to four defeats in the last five matches, with the team one point below the survival zone, he was sacked and Luigi De Canio was appointed new manager. Seven points earned in ten matches were not enough to secure Lecce a spot in the next Serie A season. Relegation was official with a game to spare, after a 1–1 home draw against Fiorentina.
Lecce had a mixed start in the 2009–10 Serie B campaign, but clinched first place in November 2009 and kept it for the rest of the season. In May the team were on the verge of promotion, but wasted opportunities in their last two matches, meant they had to wait till the last match to celebrate their eighth elevation to the top flight in the last 25 years. A goalless home draw with Sassuolo proved enough to clinch the Serie B title with 75 points and win the Coppa Ali della Vittoria.
Lecce ended a satisfactory 2010–11 Serie A season successfully avoiding relegation with a game to spare, after beating arch-rival and already relegated Bari 2–0 away on 15 May 2011. In the last few matches the team managed to win a tough battle against other underdogs and some glorious teams such as UC Sampdoria, that ended the season in despair. Manager Luigi De Canio left the team in June.
In the 2011–12 Serie A season Lecce was relegated to Serie B. The start of the season was bad and the new manager Eusebio Di Francesco was sacked in December, after nine losses in 13 games. Serse Cosmi was appointed new manager. Lecce refused to crumble as Cosmi's arrival instilled battling qualities into the relegation strugglers, who managed to gain a considerable amount of points in the following months, but eventually failed to avoid relegation, due to four losses in the last five matches. Lecce managed to struggle until the very last game.
Third division years
On 10 August 2012, Lecce was provisionally relegated by the Disciplinary Commission set up for the Scommessopoli scandal investigations 2012–13 Lega Pro Prima Divisione because of their involvement. Furthermore, the former president of Lecce Semeraro was suspended from all football activities for five years. On 22 August 2012 Lecce's relegation was confirmed by the Federal Court of Justice.
In the first season back into the third tier, Lecce ended in second place behind outsiders Trapani and were surprisingly defeated in the promotion playoffs finals by another outsider club, Carpi. The following season ended in similar fashion, with Lecce failing to win the league once again and then losing the playoffs finals, this time to Frosinone, despite a number of high-level signings such as former Palermo star, and well-known Lecce supporter, Fabrizio Miccoli.
In 2014–2015 Lecce ended the season in 6th place and did not enter the playoffs. The club ended the 2015–2016 season in third place, two points behind the second-placed team, and qualified for the playoffs round. After defeating Bassano 3–0 at home, in the semifinals Lecce lost to Foggia both the home and the away match.
Colors and badge
The team plays in red and yellow stripes. Lecce players and fans are referred to as salentini.
Lecce's home games are played in the 36,285-seater Stadio Via del Mare.
- As of 19 September 2016
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.
- Antonio Conte – Scudetto-winning manager of Juventus and former coach of the Italy national football team, product of Lecce's youth system and Lecce native best known for his thirteen-year career playing for Juve
- Graziano Pellè – Italy international, product of Lecce's youth system and San Cesario di Lecce native, he is from Monteroni di Lecce. He made his Serie A debut with Lecce in 2004
- Javier Chevantón – Uruguay international, all-time top-scorer of Lecce
- Juan Cuadrado – Colombia international
- Guillermo Giacomazzi – Uruguay international
- Fabrizio Miccoli – former Italy international and childhood supporter of the club. He was born in Nardò and is from San Donato di Lecce, a town close to Lecce
- Massimo Oddo – part of the squad which won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, spent a season on loan at Lecce towards the end of his career
- Dimitris Papadopoulos – Greece international and member of the Euro 2004-winning squad
- Pedro Pablo Pasculli – Argentina international, 1986 FIFA World Cup Winner
- Nenad Tomović – Serbia international
- Mirko Vučinić – Montenegro international, began his career in Serie A with Lecce
- Gheorghe Popescu – Romania international
- Luigi Ferrero– 1927–28
- Ferenc Plemich– 1928–30
- Pietro Piselli– 1930–31
- Ferenc Molnár– 1931
- Calò– 1934–35
- Ferenc Plemich– 1936–37
- Harpad Hajos– 1937–38
- Giobatta Rebuffo– 1938–39
- Alferio Cubi– 1939–41
- Ferenc Plemich– 1941–42
- Giovanni Degni– 1942–44
- Luigi Indrizzi– 1944–45
- Ferenc Hirzer– 1945
- Ferenc Plemich– 1945–46
- Giovanni Brezzi– 1946–47
- Raffaele Anguilla– 1947
- Ercole Dossena– 1947–48
- Raffaele Costantino– 1948
- Mario Magnozzi– 1948
- Ferenc Plemich– 1948–49
- Raffaele Costantino– 1949
- Cesare Migliorini– 1949–50
- Italo Paterno– 1950
- Giovanni Brezzi– 1950–51
- Virgilio Levratto– 1951–52
- Pietro Magni – 1952–53
- Giovanni Degni– 1953
- Gino Vianello– 1953–54
- Raffaele Costantino– 1954–55
- Euro Riparbelli– 1955
- Carmelo Russo– 1955–56
- Cesare Gallea– 1956
- Ambrogio Alfonso– 1956–58
- Ugo Starace– 1958
- Gino Vianello– 1958–59
- Ambrogio Alfonso– 1959–60
- Dino Bovoli– 1960–62
- Ulisse Giunchi– 1962
- Piero Andreoli– 1962–64
- Ambrogio Alfonso– 1964–65
- Gino Vianello– 1965–66
- Luigi Soffrido– 1966
- Ambrogio Alfonso– 1966–67
- Gianni Seghedoni– 1967–68
- Ottorino Dugini– 1968
- Eugenio Bersellini– 1968–71
- Giuseppe Corradi– 1971–73
- Maino Neri– 1973
- Giacomo Losi– 1973–74
- Nicola Chiricallo– 1974–76
- Antonio Renna– 1976–77
- Lamberto Giorgis– 1977–78
- Pietro Santin– 1978–79
- Bruno Mazzia– 1979–81
- Gianni Di Marzio– 1981–82
- Mario Corso– 1982–83
- Eugenio Fascetti– 1983–86
- Pietro Santin– 1986
- Carlo Mazzone– 1986–90
- Zbigniew Boniek– 1990–91
- Alberto Bigon– 1991
- Aldo Sensibile– 1991–92
- Alberto Bigon– 1992
- Bruno Bolchi– 1992–93
- Nedo Sonetti– 1993–94
- Rino Marchesi– 1994
- Piero Lenzi– 1994
- Luciano Spinosi– 1994–95
- Edoardo Reja– 1995
- Giampiero Ventura– 1995–97
- Cesare Prandelli– 1997
- Angelo Pereni– 1997–98
- Nedo Sonetti– 1998–99
- Alberto Cavasin– 1999–02
- Delio Rossi– 2002–04
- Zdeněk Zeman– 2004–05
- Angelo Gregucci– 2005
- Silvio Baldini– 2005–06
- Roberto Rizzo– 2006
- Zdeněk Zeman– 2006
- Giuseppe Papadopulo– 2006–08
- Mario Beretta– 2008–09
- Luigi De Canio– 2009–2011
- Eusebio Di Francesco– 2011
- Serse Cosmi– 2011–2012
- Franco Lerda– 2012–2013
- Antonio Toma– 2013
- Elio Gustinetti– 2013
- Francesco Moriero– 2013
- Franco Lerda– 2013–2014
- Dino Pagliari– 2014–2015
- Alberto Bollini– 2015
- Antonino Asta– 2015
- Piero Braglia– 2015–2016
- Pasquale Padalino– 2016–present
Honours and club records
- Coppa Ali della Vittoria (1) – 2009–10
- Promoted – 1984–85, 1987–88, 1992–93, 1996–97, 1998–99, 2002–03, 2007–08, 2009–10
- Serie C
- Champions – 1945–46, 1975–76, 1995–96
- Coppa Italia Serie C
- Champions – 1975–76
- Anglo-Italian Semiprofessional Cup
- Champions – 1976–77
Youth Team honours
- Campionato Primavera
- Champions – 2002–2003, 2003–2004
- Coppa Italia Primavera
- Champions – 2001–2002, 2004–2005
- Supercoppa Primavera
- Champions – 2003–2004, 2004–2005
- Most Serie A appearances
|Player||Serie A App.|
|Pedro Pablo Pasculli||119|
- Players capped for Italy national football team
- Vincenzo Sicignano (1 call-up) – 2005
- Marco Cassetti (3 call-ups, 2 caps) – 2005
- Andrea Esposito (1 call-up) – 2009
- Name – Stadio Via del Mare
- City – Lecce
- Capacity – 36,285
- Inauguration – 1966
- Pitch Size – 105 x 70 metres
- [http://www.rsssf.com/tablesa/angloitalian.html – RSSSF]
- Conte handed 10-month ban in Scommessopoli scandal – Goal.com
- Conte, confermati 10 mesi, Grosseto salvo, Lecce giù – La Gazzetta dello Sport
- "Dati storici". wLecce.it. Retrieved 18 Dec 2008.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to US Lecce.|
- Official website (Italian)