1985 Scudetto: the miracle of Hellas Verona
In the 1984/1985 season, Hellas Verona made history by winning the Serie A title for the first and only time in their history.
Hellas Verona is a team from the Italian city of Verona. Currently, he competes in Serie A and fights to get out of the last positions. It would be hard to imagine that a team as weak as Hellas Verona could compete among the top places in Italy. But although it seems hard to believe, almost 3 decades ago this team was one of the best in Italy. His time of glory only lasted a few years, but it was enough to win the only title in his history, the Scudetto in 1985. Furthermore, this achievement is much more meritorious, if we take into account that in those years, the Italian League was the league most competitive and difficult in the world.
In the 1980s, Calcio enjoyed its golden age. It was the championship that generated the most money in the entire football world and where the best players played. Juventus had footballers like Michele Platini and the Polish Zbigniew Boniek in their squad, Inter had the German Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Napoli had Maradona, Fiorentina had the Brazilian Socrates and the Argentine Daniel Passarella, Udinese also had the Brazilian Zico and Roma had Paulo Falcao.
In 1981, Hellas Verona came very close to being relegated to Serie C. Because of this, the club made many changes and hired Osvaldo Bagnoli as a coach and Emiliano Mascetti as sporting director. They began to sign young players who had no chance on other teams. And thanks to that, in just 1 year they were promoted to Serie A. Some of these discovered talents were Pietro Fanna, Luciano Marangon, Giuseppe Galderisi and Luigi Sacchetti. And to improve the team, they bought the Brazilian midfielder Dirceu. Thanks to these signings, the team managed to reach 2 consecutive Italian Cup finals (lost both) and had excellent participation in Serie A, managing to qualify for the UEFA Cup.
But the ambitious managers of Hellas Verona wanted more and so they started looking for foreign players to sign. They first tried to sign Lothar Matthäus but were unsuccessful. Plan B was midfielder Hans-Peter Briegel and Danish striker Preben Elkjær Larsen. These players brought enough hierarchy to the team to compete in Serie A for the first time in its history.
Gianni Brera, a legendary sports journalist in Italy, baptized Bagnoli as the Schopenhauer of Calcio. He was a coach who, with his philosophy, convinced his players that they were capable of achieving anything and turned them into true gladiators. Interestingly, the first game of the season was against Napoli, a team that had just signed Maradona. In the end, the Verona team won 3-1 and soured the debut of the Argentine striker.
Unlike other Italian teams, Hellas Verona did not have any star players in the squad. But that was not a problem for the team, as all the players collectively played impressively. After playing the first half of Serie A, Hellas Verona was the leader of the tournament, with 22 points (each victory was worth 2 points). In addition, the defensive solidity of goalkeeper Claudio Garella helped the Verona team to receive a few goals. At that time, all the Italian newspapers wrote about the team, but most agreed that Hellas Verona would eventually begin to lose and the illusion would end. But this did not happen.
Although Juventus, Inter and Torino tried to beat Bagnoli's team, none of them succeeded. Hellas Verona was the tournament leader from start to finish, scoring 42 goals and conceding 19 goals. The team's top scorers were Giuseppe Galderisi (11 goals), Hans-Peter Briegel (9 goals) and Preben Elkjær Larsen (9 goals).
The defining match was in Bergamo against Atalanta. On that day, both teams tied 1-1 and with the tie, Hellas Verona became the champion of Italy. More than 120,000 fans wearing the "gialloblu" colors were present to receive and celebrate with the hero players.