In case you missed it, Rodrigo Taddei completed a move yesterday to Serie B’s newly promoted AC Perugia.
Taddei played at almost every position imaginable (except in goal) during his nine years at Roma, winning two Coppe Italia and one Supercoppa. The Scudetto will sadly always elude him as he hangs up his giallorosso shirt at the ripe age of 34.
But the subplot in this story is the rebirth of a side which was playing UEFA League football only a decade – and was excluded from professional football in 2010.
Perugia has seen the glory days, back in a golden era in 1979 when they became the only team to play an unbeaten season and yet not win the league (2nd with 11 wins and 19 draws).
By the early 90s they had sunk back to Serie C. However in 1994 they made it back to B and only two years later rejoined the top division where they enjoyed renewed success. Prolific Japanese striker Hidetoshi Nakata was enlisted in 1998, alongside Jay Bothroyd, the England international.
In 2002 their eclectic and controversial manager Luciano Gaucci sacked Ahn Jung-Hwan, the South Korean player who had scored the golden goal to knock Italy out of the World Cup. For the record, I am totally on Gaucci’s side.
When bankruptcy was declared in 2010, the club was forced to rename itself ASD Perugia (Associazione Sportiva Dilettantistica – Amateur Sporting Association) and were inserted into Serie D, a regional amateur league.
There they were just too good, gaining promotion in April 2011 to Serie C2 and earning the tag AC once more (Associazione Calcio, a professional club).
Serie C1 was the next rung on the ladder, and so they climbed higher; the 2012-13 saw them finish second in the league only to lose in the play-off semi-final, consigning them to stay in the same league for the first time in half a decade.
This summer a late Marco Moscati goal against Frosinone made the fairytale a reality. AC Perugia, for whom all hope had seemed lost – the amateurs from Umbria were officially promoted to the second highest division in Italian football.
Now they have succeeded in signing a remarkable footballer who has played to a consistent standard for the second-best team in Italian football; Rodrigo Taddei too found a rebirth under Rudi Garcia this season and I, for one, was surprised to see him go.
It brings back memories of another tumble from grace from last summer, when Fabrizio Miccoli leapt two divisions to join Lecce from Palermo to escape the ignonimy of scandal. But the mild and unassuming Taddei does not strike me as the type to become embroiled in the kind of affairs that Miccoli engaged in.
Perhaps Taddei is sceptical of his first team chances, but then why not join one of the Serie A clubs that was vying for his name on their teamsheets?
Perhaps Perugia has money to throw at the Brazilian, but again that seems improbable, having barely emerged from a state of not having enough money to fund a full team, never mind a Roma-scale salary.
Perhaps he then believes in the Perugia fairytale; where three promotions in four seasons could turn into four in five; where a team of amateurs can overachieve at any level they emerge at; where the club’s history shows a steeliness and sheer belief that is unique in world football.
Everyone loves an underdog – nobody likes an overreacher. We might worry that Serie B is one step too far for the yo-yo team of Italian football, but surely – surely – they’ve said the same thing for three seasons running now.
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