Luigi Corioni – The man who brought Baggio and Guardiola to Brescia
It’s a sad time for Calcio, as the footballing world pays its respects to one of the most influential characters from the yesteryear, former Brescia president Luigi Corioni.
The historic Rondinelle patron’s tragic passing sparks beautiful memories of moments that brought joy to thousands, moments which are unlikely to be replicated during the current-era of football.
Corioni took over at Brescia in 1992, a year in which the club had been left in limbo by it’s previous owner, stuck in Serie B. The future looked bleak and even the most passionate of followers would have found it hard to imagine escaping the constant cycle of finishing mid-table, of which they had done for the previous four years.
Yet one man, who made a name for himself through selling bathroom furnishings, was able to change their luck for the good, all in the blink of an eye, as Corioni oversaw his side’s promotion to Serie A within his first season in charge. One of the many delights to come.
Years of hard work and investment finally came to fruition in the year 2000, as Brescia suddenly became a household name across the entirety of Italy and even Europe, so much so that they managed to attract some of the biggest names in football.
All this came about as a result of a daring moment of brilliance from the Italian businessman, when he brought in former Juventus star and FIFA world player of the year Roberto Baggio. The signing left everyone rubbing their eyes in disbelief, no-one had expected the Divine Ponytail to join the small Lombard side, let alone on a free deal, and yet it was a move that changed the club’s history.
The shock transfer almost brought instant glory to Brescia as they finished seventh in the league that year, reaching the UEFA Intertoto Cup final the following season only to be cruelly denied silverware by Paris Saint Germain.
Just when things looked like they couldn’t get any better, Corioni then produced another magic signing, this time in Barcelona’s Josep Guardiola. At the age of 30, the Spaniard was still in the prime of his career and had never played for another team other than the Catalonian side before.
The marquee signings undoubtedly made Brescia one of the hottest teams in football for a brief period and such success would never have been achieved had it not been for Corioni’s audacity to try the impossible.
It was the equivalent of bringing players such as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta to a mid-table club, something that could only be dreamed up in the imagination of a true football romantic.
And it’s not just those two stars who donned the Biancoazzurro shirt, as the likes of Gheorghe Hagi and the growing Luca Toni also passed through for impressive stints. Even Napoli have Corioni to thank, for bringing their captain Marek Hamsik to the peninsula.
Whilst his final years at the club may not have been quite as memorable, his undeniable eye for talent and passion for the game will live on through the history books and memories of many a fan.
A true lover of Calcio, Corioni stood for everything that was right in the beautiful game, and was proof that pure dedication can in fact triumph over money.