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Sampdoria and Andrea Pirlo’s Journey: A Resurgence from Adversity

More than three decades ago, Sampdoria basked in the glory of being among Europe’s football elite. Fuelled by the brilliance of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini, they clinched a Serie A title, conquered the Cup Winners’ Cup, and narrowly missed out on a European Cup final victory against Barcelona at Wembley.

Fast forward to the present, life has taken a stark turn for I Blucerchiati. After a relegation to Italy’s second tier in the previous season, and with legendary Andrea Pirlo at the managerial helm, they find themselves teetering on the edge of a second consecutive drop rather than a triumphant return to prominence.

In the aftermath of a decade marked by mismanagement leading to the brink of bankruptcy, the new custodians, Andrea Radrizzani (formerly associated with Leeds United) and Matteo Manfredi, are on a mission to resurrect Sampdoria to the glory days of the ’90s. A defiant banner at their final Serie A home game in May proclaimed, ‘From hell we shall return.’ Yet, these years have been tumultuous, featuring unsettling incidents such as the delivery of a severed pig’s head and bullet cases to former owners.

A Club Sold for One Euro

The 2022-23 season proved to be forgettable for Sampdoria, marred by the passing of club great Gianluca Vialli at the age of 58 and culminating in relegation after an uninterrupted 11-year stint in the top flight. The club’s descent into chaos can be traced back to a pivotal moment in 2014 when, for the symbolic sum of one euro, Edoardo Garrone relinquished ownership to film producer Massimo Ferrero, along with an injection of 65 million euros to ensure the club’s financial continuity.

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Questions linger about why one of Italy’s wealthiest families would divest the club at a nominal cost, coupled with additional financial support, to a football novice lacking personal assets. Ferrero, seemingly a puppet of Garrone, relied solely on transfer market profits to sustain the club, a model that held until 2019 when a proposed takeover by international investors, spearheaded by Vialli, fell through.

Freefall Towards Bankruptcy

The pandemic dealt a crippling blow, resulting in a halt to the transfer market, eroding profits, and leaving the club on the brink of financial ruin. Ferrero’s arrest in December 2021 for fraudulent bankruptcy, unrelated to football activities, added another layer of chaos. Despite being released from prison, Ferrero maintained de facto ownership, leading to a tumultuous 18 months marked by threats, protests, and disturbing deliveries at Sampdoria’s headquarters.

A Last-Minute Call to Save the Club

In a dramatic turn of events in late May, just days away from professional football oblivion, Sampdoria found saviors in Radrizzani and Manfredi. Persuading Ferrero to relinquish control, they infused the necessary funds to settle outstanding debts and opened the door for new investors. The appointment of Pirlo as manager marked the beginning of a dream to restore Sampdoria to its former glory. However, the stark realities of rebuilding post-relegation, coupled with a two-point penalty for financial rule breaches, tested the resolve of the new ownership.


With over half the squad born this century, Pirlo’s blend of youth and experience, including stalwart Fabio Borini, is gradually finding its footing. Despite a challenging start, recent victories have lifted Sampdoria a point clear of the relegation zone. The journey toward a swift return to the top flight remains an uphill battle, but the unwavering support of fans and the promise of further investments keep the flame of hope alive for Sampdoria’s resurgence.


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