Football Features

Chievo’s most famous players: “He’s now rubbing shoulders with Messi at PSG”

By CJ Smith

Published: 20:16, 5 September 2021

After 92 years, 17 of which were spent in Serie A, Chievo Verona are no more.

It’s hard to think of many things more heartbreaking than a football club going bust but that’s exactly what supporters of I Gialloblu are grappling with right now.

Efforts are being made to form a phoenix club in Chievo’s absence (more on that later) but for now, let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable players to wear the yellow shirt whose heights once scaled the Champions League and Uefa Cup in 2006/07.

1. Andrea Barzagli

Years at Chievo: 2003-04

As part of a superb defensive trident at both club and international level alongside Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli was one of the best centre-backs of the 2010s. But long before his time at Juventus, or indeed spells at Wolfsburg and Palermo, it was Chievo who gave Barzagli his break in Serie A, having previously played in the Italian lower leagues. Chievo finished ninth in Serie A in his sole season there, with only the top two of AC Milan and Roma conceding fewer than their 37 goals.

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2. Leandro Paredes

Years at Chievo: 2014

Roma were meant to sign Leandro Paredes from Boca Juniors in 2014 but embarrassingly used up their non-EU registration quota before his transfer. Instead, he joined Chievo on loan but played just once before finally getting his move to Roma the following season. After spells with Empoli and Zenit, he now rubs shoulders with Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar at PSG.

3. Simone Perrotta

Years at Chievo: 2001-04

An Italian World Cup-winning midfielder born in Ashton-under-Lyne, England, just outside of Manchester. As if that story isn’t interesting enough, did you know Simone Perrotta spent three seasons at Chievo between 2001 and 2004, helping the club finish fifth, seventh and ninth? That fifth-place finish in his first season was even enough to fire Chievo into the Uefa Cup, though they crashed out to Red Star Belgrade in the first round.

4. Simone Pepe

Years at Chievo: 2015-16

There was a spell during his Udinese and early Juventus days where Simone Pepe was one of the most electric wingers in Europe. By the time he arrived at Chievo in 2015, he was well on his way toward retirement, but he still managed three goals in 22 Serie A appearances to help the club finish comfortably in ninth. He was released at the end of the season and spent one year at Pescara before retiring in 2017.

5. Myles Anderson

Years at Chievo: 2015

Myles Anderson’s career path on its own is interesting enough. From Aberdeen to (at the time of writing) Hampton and Richmond Borough with spells at Blackburn, Exeter, Monza and Chievo (among many others) in between. Anderson played a total of 29 games in Italian football, though none of them came in his 2015 stint at Chievo.

Myles’ father, Jerome, was the first agent to introduce foreign stars to the Premier League, including Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars and Uwe Rosler. He also represented nine of Arsenal’s 1989 title-winning side. He also had a hand in John Obi Mikel’s controversial transfer to Chelsea in 2005.

6. Amauri

Years at Chievo: 2003-06

Amauri’s big move to Juventus in 2008 never truly worked out, despite a promising first season. But prior to that, he was quite a lethal force in Serie A with Palermo and, yes, Chievo, with whom he netted 14 goals in 40 appearances across all competitions in the 2005/06 season, helping the club finish fourth to qualify for the Champions League.

7. Michael Bradley

Years at Chievo: 2011-12

He may be a shadow of his former self now but Michael Bradley has been one of the United States’ most important players over the last couple of decades, picking up a massive 151 caps — only Landon Donovan (157) and Cobi Jones (164) have managed more.

And while young Americans moving to Europe is becoming quite a regular occurrence, it was not always that way. You could say Bradley’s spells with Heerenveen, Gladbach, Aston Villa, Chievo (2011/12) and Roma blazed the trail others are now following in.

8. John Mensah

Years at Chievo: 2002-06

After a couple of years in the Swiss and Italian lower leagues, John Mensah moved to Chievo in 2002 to take a shot at Serie A. Ultimately, he was nothing more than a bit-part player and was loaned out the year the Yellow and Blues finished fourth, while he was sold the following season. Still, Mensah went on to have a decent spell at Rennes, while he also had a spell in England on loan at Sunderland.

9. Victor Obinna

Years at Chievo: 2005-08, 2014

Victor Obinna has turned out for quite the mix of clubs, including Inter Milan, West Ham United and Lokomotiv Moscow. But it all started at Chievo, with the 48-time Nigeria international making 86 appearances for the club between 2005 and 2008, helping them win Serie B in 2007/08 for an immediate return to the top-flight. Obinna had a second spell at Chievo in 2014, scoring twice in 10 appearances, though it wasn’t enough to keep him there again long-term.

10. Sergio Pellissier

Years at Chievo: 2000-19

Of all the ex-Chievo players, nobody will be feeling the death of the club more than Sergio Pellissier. The one-time Italy international played 517 times for the club during a 19-year spell, scoring 139 goals and witnessing everything from Champions League football to relegation, as well as winning Serie B alongside Obinna.

In fact, Chievo means so much to Pellissier that he is one of the key figures orchestrating their revival, with FC Chievo 1929 recently getting affiliation from the FIGC.

“I’m not giving up, it’s not over,” Pellissier said (translated by Football Italia) of his efforts to revive the club. “I try, for Chievo, I can’t give up in the face of the first difficulties.

“I have my own club: FC Chievo 1929, the affiliation was the first step. It’s there, it stays there, to be filled, to be set up.

“Let’s be clear. We had very little time to try to get in right away. I tried to work in an emergency: contacts, solidity, sponsors, entrepreneurs, travel companions.

“I didn’t succeed today. But tomorrow is another day. Where do we start from? It doesn’t matter where, but it’s essential to start again. Third or second division.

“Maybe even finding the possibility of getting closer to other existing realities. Starting from Serie D would have been the best. A step below the professionals, then try to take a leap forward immediately.”

Honourable mentions: Julio Cesar (didn’t make an appearance), Oliver Bierhoff, Lucas Piazon, Mario Yepes, Jonathan de Guzman, Maxi Lopez, Jonathan Biabiany, Cristiano Biraghi, Gelson Fernandes.

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