The glory days are back at Sampdoria. Well, sort of. Most seasons since the middle of the last decade have seen Samp challenge for Europe, a continent they struck fear into 20 years ago.
Then, they reached three major finals – the Cup Winners' Cup in 1989 and 1990 and the European Cup in 1992 – and won the club's only scudetto in 1991. Roberto Mancini was the symbol of the great side funded by oil magnate Paolo Mantovani; 'Mancio' – and strike partner Gianluca Vialli – ignited the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, and for once the jubilant fans were Sampdoria's.
Ground-sharing with Genoa, Italy's most venerable football club, had been a humbling arrangement for a mongrel (mainly lower-flight) outfit formed by amalgamation as late as 1946. But once half of the city – and the stadium's Gradinata Sud – was decked out in Sampdoria's stripes of blue, white, red and black, there was no looking back.
Not even after Mantovani's death in 1994, when his son Enrico brought in a succession of high-profile managers who provided only relegation scraps, did Samp's Fedelissimi (fans) lose the passion generated by the great side that shook Europe. Windows all around this dilapidated port still bear the Blucerchiati (the blue and hoops), whether it's matchday or not.
The distinctive brick-styled 36,000-capacity Luigi Ferraris, which caught the eye during Italia 90 (for which it was completely rebuilt), sits north-east of the city centre. From Brignole station, walk through the railway tunnel and up Via Canevari before crossing the riverbed. City buses KM and CM circulate on match days.
Each club (Genoa and Sampdoria) has an office behind one goal for advance tickets, or use a Lottomatica lottery machine in town. The 90 Minuta bar at nearby Via Monticelli 22 is a suitable pre-match spot.
Club address Piazza Borgo Pila, 39 - 5Â° Piano, Torre B - 16123, Genoa
Telephone 0039 010-5316711
For regular updates on the crazy world of Italian football, see our blog Serie Aaaargh!
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