Perhaps Italian football makes you think that it’s AC, Internazionale or Juventus we’re gonna be talking about.
Oh well oh well!
The times have changed.
Emerging amidst the glories of these giant football clubs, a dark horse has become the new heartthrob.
A little boy has risen on his own and is going around threatening one and all!
Sailing through the storm as calmly as you can imagine.
Taking the whole family along!
Yes, it is none other than Atalanta we are referring to!
In the past couple of days, the club has blown away the football community. With an outstanding season and European cup performance, Atalanta has had a close brush with glory in 2020.
Leading against PSG by a goal until the 89th minute, Atalanta had managed to keep us on the edge of our seats for the whole of the match. They had surprised one and all by having scored the first goal of the game & having contained PSG’s lethal attack all until the 89th minute!
The match however ended 2-1 with Atalanta being knocked out by 2 stunning late goals, or perhaps by just a tiny bit of misfortune!
Though heartbreaks are hard to deal with, here’s a look at all the good times and the journey that the club had made in this pursuit.
IGNITING THE FIRE
Established in 1907, Atalanta is based in Belgramo province of Italy. The club in its 89 years of football has participated only in 11 seasons in the top flight of the Italian league.
Belgramo’s celebrations were nothing short of a festival- firecrackers blaring the stadium, streets and bars crowded with people. This marked the beginning of the grim pandemic that took over Italy.
Located in the vicinity of Milan, the club has always been under the shadows of the two San-Siro giants. This year however has been special.
They have finished 3rd in the league, trailing the champions Juventus by a thin margin of 5 points.
The club has not only secured itself a spot in European football, but has also scored 98 goals in the league. This is the highest by any team in the Serie A, this season.
The cherry on the cake was their performance in the UCL.
Beating Valencia 8-4 on aggregate in the round of 16, Atalanta players & fans had their head in the clouds.
The journey however has had its highs and lows.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Atalanta is the typical small province Italian club. It’s the favourite among home fans and a topic of discussion at every local bar around.
The fans crowd the stadium with pride and celebrate every victory big and small.
On the night of 20th February, as Atalanta scored 4 goals against Valencia in the UCL, Belgramo’s celebrations were nothing short of a festival!
With firecrackers blaring the stadium, streets and bars crowded with people, came in the news no one expected. The news no one wanted.
The Italian province had recorded the initial dozen deaths due to COVID-19.
This marked the beginning of the grim pandemic that took over Italy.
People were told to take immediate action! The crowds were dismissed, all celebration halted & caution advised.
The carnival large gatherings of over 40,000 in and around the stadiums had been labeled a major source of the spread.
In no time, the triumph seemed insignificant.
The club and fans had played an integral role in spreading the wildfire – spreading it to an extent that it burnt down the entire nation!
Belgramo had been declared the COVID Capital of Italy.
The football club helped by creating an open COVID facility. They had also made a huge donation that was used to set up the Pope John XXIII hospital in Belgramo
As a hero would; as any loving family should – Atalanta supported the community.
They provided support to the infected and showed immense gratitude towards those who had lost family members. The players and club contributed in all possible aspects to help the province deal with the pandemic.
The football club even helped by creating an open COVID facility that played a great role in helping Belgramo recover from the scare.
They had also made a huge donation that was used to set up the Pope John XXIII hospital in Belgramo.
“It was an important donation, but so too is the love that they have shown. It shows the passion and affection not just for the team, but for Bergamo. In a very difficult moment for the city, we have felt that affection. They showed a lot of solidarity.”
– Maria Beatrice Stasi, the director-general of the Pope John XXIII hospital.
They even launched several campaigns and drives. The most popular of them being the heart logo with BelgrAMO (Amo meaning love in Italian).
As the city came out of the dark, a new hope arose.
“Sport cannot overcome that grief. But for the city as a whole, a city that has suffered a lot, it offers hope.”
-Stasi, Director, Pope John XXIII hospital
Atalanta did not fail to rise to the occasion. They won 6 continuous matches after the restart of football. Their victories provided hope to the fans as they even accomplished the impossible by drawing with champions Juventus & beating Lazio in the league.
The magic seemed to continue as they progressed to the European championship, only to put up a flawless show – against both, Valencia and Paris.
“They have made us proud! Now Belgramo is known not only for COVID, but also for Atalanta!”
– Proud Atalanta supporter
This has been a classic instance of the power of sport.
The strength of unity & belief in a better tomorrow!
As FC Barcelona provides strength to the Catalunya support, Atalanta has shown that wonders can be achieved – with love & belongingness.
By simply doing all we can to keep the best interests of our fans at heart!
As the locals put it
(Thank you young boys!)