Football Features

12 players you completely forgot turned out for Brescia

By Squawka News

12 players you completely forgot turned out for Brescia copy

Published: 15:10, 23 June 2023

If you’ve never heard of them before, Brescia Calcio are an Italian side that have a rich and bountiful history dating back to 1911.

What might jog your memory is the list of notable players who used to don the blue and white strip back in the day.

Brescia have won Serie B four times 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 two seasons 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, including a certain Andrea Pirlo.

But Pirlo isn’t the only noteworthy 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 — and just a couple of recognisable names.

Sandro Tonali

Appearances: 89
International caps: 14

Although he burst onto the scene and rose to prominence at Brescia, it may already be forgotten that he was once Le Rondinelle‘s golden child. Football moves at a frantic pace, and he has since become the centrepiece of Milan’s midfield after moving across in 2020. Firmly established, he was vital as the club won Serie A in 2021/22, but it was at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti where he first catapulted his name into the limelight and entered the Italian psyche.

Gheorghe Hagi

Appearances: 61
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.

Pep Guardiola

Appearances: 24
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.

Roberto Baggio

Appearances: 95
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 scoring 46 goals and ultimately having his No. 10 shirt retired at the club. Oh, and he’s the recipient of a Ballon d’Or. Not bad at all.

Luca Toni

Appearances: 44
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.

Marek Hamsik

Appearances: 65
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.

Stephen Appiah

Appearances: 31
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.

Marco Delvecchio

Appearances: 5
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.

Andrea Pirlo

Appearances: 57
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 seventh-most capped player of all-time; a whole load of incredible free-kicks sum up his seriously illustrious playing career.

Mario Balotelli

Appearances: 19
International caps: 36

The mercurial marksman had a naturally chaotic single season at Brescia. After leaving Marseille in 2019, Balotelli dramatically returned to Brescia, where he grew up as a child in Italy, and joined Le Rondinelle. It was a turbulent season that saw Brescia sack and rehire Eugenio Corini, go through four separate managerial appointments, win just six games and suffer relegation to Serie B at the end of it all.

Roberto De Zerbi

Appearances: 17
International caps: 0

Born in Brescia, Roberto De Zerbi had a solid if unspectacular playing career, but he did manage to play for his boyhood club during his twilight years on the pitch. In 2008, he joined the club on loan from Napoli and made 17 appearances, scoring one goal. He has since gone on to become one of the finest tacticians in Europe.

Quinton Fortune

Appearances: 1
International caps: 46

Following his spell at Manchester United and an unsuccessful stint at Bolton Wanderers, Fortune randomly pitched up at Serie B club Brescia in 2008, a month after he had a trial with Sheffield United. The move didn’t last long, though, with Fortune making just one appearance and eventually leaving for Tubize just four months later.