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A.C. ChievoVerona

Associazione Calcio ChievoVerona (more commonly called Chievo Verona or simply Chievo) is an Italian professional football club named after and based in a suburb of Verona, Veneto, and owned by Paluani, a cake company and the inspiration for their original name, Paluani Chievo. The club is nicknamed alternatively gialloblu, mussi volanti or Ceo, and shares its stadium with Hellas Verona which is the 42,160 seater Marcantonio Bentegodi stadium. Chievo slipped into the relegation zone on the final match day of 2006-2007 and was demoted to Serie B, but subsequently rebounded to clinch promotion back to the top-flight in their first year in the cadetteria.

History

Early years

The team was founded in 1929 by a small number of football fans from the small borough of Chievo, a Verona neighbourhood. Initially the club was not officially affiliated to the Italian Football Federation, but played under the denomination "Ond Chievo" imposed by the fascist regime several amateur tournament and friendly matches. The formal debut in an official league is dated November 8, 1931. The team colours at the time were blue and white. However, Chievo disbanded in 1936 because of economic woes, and the team returned to play in 1948 after World War II, being registered in the regional league of "Seconda Divisione" (Second Division). In 1957 the team moved to the "Carlantonio Bottagisio" parish field, where Chievo played until 1986. In 1959, after the restructuring of the football leagues, Chievo was admitted to play the "Seconda Categoria" (Second Category), a regional league placed next-to-last in the Italian football pyramid. That year, Chievo changed its denomination to "Cardi Chievo", after the new sponsor, and was quickly promoted to the "Prima Categoria", which it left in 1962 after having experienced its first relegation ever.

Series of promotions

In 1964, Luigi Campedelli, a businessman and owner of the Paluani company, is named new Chievo chairman. Under Campedelli's presidency, Chievo climbed the entire Italian pyramid, reaching the Serie D after the 1974/1975 season. Under the name "Paluani Chievo", the team is promoted to Serie C2 in 1986. After this promotion, Chievo was forced to move to the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi, the main venue in Verona; another promotion, to Serie C1, then arrived in 1989. In 1990, the team finally changed its name to the current one, "A.C. ChievoVerona".

In 1992, President Luigi Campedelli, who returned at the helm of the club two years before, died of a heart attack, and his son Luca Campedelli, aged just 23, became the new chairman. Luca Campedelli, the youngest chairman of all Italian professional football clubs, promoted Giovanni Sartori as Director of Football and named Alberto Malesani the new head coach. Under Malesani, the team astonishingly won the Serie C1 and was promoted to Serie B, where city rival Hellas Verona was playing at the time. In 1997, after Malesani signed for Fiorentina, Silvio Baldini was appointed new head coach. The following season, with Domenico Caso as new coach, saw the first dismissal ever in the presidency of Luca Campedelli, with Caso fired and replaced with Lorenzo Balestro.

In 2000/2001, Luigi Del Neri was signed as new coach, and led Chievo to a historic promotion to Serie A, the first-ever in the team's history, ending its Serie B run in third-place.

Serie A times

In its 2001/2002 Serie A debut, to everyone's great surprise the small and unconsidered Chievo, most critics' choice for an instant return to Serie B, quickly became the most astonishing team in the league, playing spectacular and entertaining football and even leading the top division for six consecutive weeks, finally ending the season with a highly respectable fifth place, qualifying the team to play in the UEFA Cup.

In 2002/2003, Chievo debuted at the European level but were eliminated in the first round against Red Star Belgrade. The team finished the Serie A season in seventh place, again proving itself one of the most valued Serie A teams. The 2003/2004 season, the last with Del Neri at the helm, saw Chievo ending in ninth place.

The 2004/2005 season is remembered as one of the toughest ever in Chievo's history. Mario Beretta, a Serie A novice from Ternana, was named new coach: after a good start which brought Chievo to a third place behind Juventus and AC Milan, the team slowly lost positions in the Serie A table. Three matches before the end of the league, Chievo was third from last, a position which would relegate it to Serie B. As a last resort Beretta was fired and Maurizio D'Angelo, a highly respected former Chievo player, was appointed temporarily to replace him as coach. Morale improved, and two wins and a tie from the final three matches proved just enough to keep Chievo in Serie A.

In 2005/2006, Giuseppe Pillon of Treviso FBC was appointed as new coach. The team experienced a throwback to the successful Del Neri era, both in style of play and results, and Chievo consequently gained a place in the next UEFA Cup, ending the season in a solid seventh place. However, because of the football scandal involving several top-class teams, all placed before Chievo in the 2005/2006 season, the Flying Donkeys had a chance of playing the next Champions League preliminary phase.

On July 14, 2006, the verdict in the scandal was made public. Juventus, AC Milan and Fiorentina, all qualified for the 2006-07 Champions League, and Lazio, originally inscribed for the 2006-07 UEFA Cup, were all banned from UEFA competition for the 2006/07 season, although AC Milan were allowed to enter the Champions League after their appeal to FIGC. Chievo took up a place in the third qualifying stage of the competition along with AC Milan and faced Bulgarian Levski Sofia. Chievo lost the first leg 2-0 in Sofia and managed a 2-2 home draw on the second leg. Levski advanced to the Champions League group stage on a 4-2 aggregate score, and Chievo was knocked out. As a Champions League third round qualifying loser, Chievo was placed in the UEFA Cup final qualifying round. On August 25, 2006 Chievo was drawn to face Portuguese Braga. The first leg, played on September 14 in Braga, ended in a shock 2-0 win for the Portuguese side. The return match, played on September 28 in Verona, was won by Chievo 2-1. However, the Italian side lost 3-2 on aggregate and was knocked out of any further European competitions.

On October 16, 2006, following a 1-0 defeat against Torino F.C., head coach Giuseppe Pillon was fired, and replaced by Luigi Del Neri, one of the original symbols of the miracle Chievo, who had led the club to Serie A in 2002.

On May 27, 2007, the last match day of the 2006-07 Serie A season, Chievo was one of five teams in danger of falling into the last undecided relegation spot. Needing only a tie against Catania, a direct competitor in the relegation battle, Chievo lost 2-0 playing in the neutral field of Bologna. Simultaneous wins by Parma, Siena and Reggina condemned Chievo to Serie B for the 2007-08 season after six seasons in the senior league.

A Year with the Cadetti

Chievo bounced back quickly from the disappointment of their last matchday relegation in 2006/07, going in search of an immediate promotion back to the top flight. After the expected departure of several top-quality players (i.e., Semioli, Lanna, Brighi, Sammarco, Bogdani among them), as well as the manager (Luigi Del Neri parted ways with the club, and Giuseppe Iachini replacing Del Neri) and captain (Lorenzo D'Anna giving way to Sergio Pellissier at the end of the transfer window), a new squad was constructed, most notably including the arrivals of midfielders Maurizio Ciaramitaro and Simone Bentivoglio, defender Cesar, and forward Antimo Iunco. This new incarnation of the 'gialloblu' were crowned Winter Champions (along with Bologna), en route to a 41st matchday promotion after a 1-1 draw at Grosseto left them 4 points clear of third-place Lecce with one match remaining. Furthermore, they were conferred the "Ali della Vittoria" trophy on the final matchday of the season, their first league title of any kind in 14 years.

Current squad

As of 2008-09-02

Out on loan

Retired numbers

Notable former players

Colours and badge

The club's historic nickname is gialloblu (from the club colors of yellow and blue), but is more often referred to today as the mussi volanti ("flying donkeys" in the Verona dialect of Venetian). Local supporters often call the club simply Ceo, which is Veronese for Chievo. The "flying donkeys" nickname was originally a derogatory term from a playful match chant sung by fans from crosstown rivals Hellas Verona, who claimed Chievo had stolen Hellas' colors, name, and stadium. Hellas fans also said that "donkeys would fly before Chievo made it to Serie A". However, with later successes by Chievo and contemporaneous Serie B and Serie C1 struggles for Hellas Verona, Chievo fans have now largely embraced the nickname as a badge of honour.

The current club crest represents instead Cangrande I della Scala, an ancient seignor from Verona.

Footnotes

External links

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