If you’ve never heard of them before, Brescia Calcio are an Italian side that have been floating between Serie A and Serie B across the past 30 years.
What might jog your memory though is the incredible list of players that used to don the blue and white strip back in the day.
Brescia have won Serie B four times – most recently this season where they finished top of the pile for their first return to Serie A since 2011 – and have finished runners’ up on four separate occasions. Their longest spell in Serie A was from 2000 to 2005, a run they haven’t been able to replicate since, with just one season in the Italian top flight in total from that point.
The ‘Little Swallows’ have certainly seen some incredible players ply their trade at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti over the years, and they may finally have found the heir to Andrea Pirlo’s throne in Sandro Tonali – the prodigiously talented teenage regista.
But Pirlo isn’t the only incredible footballer to have had a stop in their career at Brescia though. There are some seriously good players here that you might not have realised played for the Italian club at one stage or another.
International caps: 125
Nicknamed the ‘Maradona of the Carpathians’ and regarded as one of the best footballers of his generation, the seven-time Romanian Player of the Year winner spent 1994-2001 between Barcelona and then Galatasaray. But before that he had two seasons at little Brescia.
Retiring at the turn of the century, Hagi has focused on a managing career at Romania, Galatasaray and, most recently, Viitorul.
International caps: 47
No, really. The Manchester City boss was a player at Brescia Calcio, not once but twice. Despite his multiple spells, he only made a string of appearances for the club, retiring from his playing career altogether just three years later.
His most notable club is Barcelona by far, making 263 appearances between 1990 and 2001, and then returning to manage the Catalans in 2008.
International caps: 56
Italian attacking midfielder Roberto Baggio’s Brescia spell was the final stop on his playing career before he retired at the end of the 2004 season.
During his spell at the Italian side, Brescia stayed in Serie A and were never relegated, with Baggio their current fourth highest all-time top scorer and top scorer in Serie A. Oh, and he’s the recipient of a Ballon d’Or. Not bad at all.
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International caps: 47
Undoubtedly not a one-club player, having appeared at some 17 clubs before retiring in 2016, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Toni made an appearance at Brescia during his career.
Brescia was one of his longest spells, playing alongside Baggio during their triumphant Serie A run. He’s scored over 300 goals in his career, 15 of which came at Brescia.
International caps: 111
Arguably the club where he ‘made it’, Marek Hamsik’s three-season spell at Brescia saw him bought by Napoli, where he stayed for 12 years before moving to China early in 2019. During his first season at Brescia as a 17-year-old debutant, Hamsik netted 10 times from just 40 appearances.
Another attacking midfielder, he’s been voted as Slovakia’s Footballer of the Year a staggering eight times.
International caps: 67
A loan move to Brescia for a single season, the Ghanaian made 31 appearances for the Italian side, scoring seven goals and doing enough to impress Juventus. After two seasons in the top flight, Appiah moved between Fenerbahce, Bologna and Cesena before retiring from football in 2012.
International caps: 22
If you remember this one, serious brownie points.
Delvecchio made just five appearances for Brescia in 2005, failing to score and moving away from the club the following season. Nothing was ever going to eclipse his 10 years and 269 appearances for Roma.
International caps: 116
Pirlo spent time at Brescia twice in his playing career; at the very start and then again on loan. His most well-known club was, of course, AC Milan where he made 284 appearances.
He also managed four Serie A titles with Juventus before hanging up his boots in 2017 after a stint with New York City.
He won the Serie B title while at Brescia in 1996/97, but it is scarcely remembered due to his success elsewhere. Italy’s fourth-most capped player of all-time; a whole load of incredible free-kicks sum up his seriously illustrious playing career.