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Lecce is a football (soccer) club from Italy.

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About Lecce

Unione Sportiva Lecce or simply U.S. Lecce is an Football in Italy club based in Lecce, Apulia who play in the Italian Serie A. After being crowned Serie B champions in 2009–10, the team successfully managed to avoid relegation in 2010-11.

The club was formed in 1908 and has spent a large part of their recent history bouncing between Serie B and Serie A, where the team gained its first promotion in 1985.

The team plays in red and yellow stripes. Lecce's home games are played in the 36,285-seater Stadio Via del Mare. Lecce players and fans are referred to as Salento.


Lecce was founded as Sporting Club Lecce on 15 March 1908, initially the club comprise of association football, track-and-field and cycling sports. The first club president was Francesco Marangi. The first colours worn by Lecce during this time were black and white stripes, known in Italy as bianconeri.

In its formative years, Lecce played in mostly regional leagues and competitions. During the 1923/24 season the club broke up, before coming back on 16 September 1927 as Unione Sportiva Lecce. The club were still wearing black and white stripes (similar to Juventus) at this point, and the first president under the name Unione Sportiva Lecce was Luigi Lopez y Rojo.

League: Early years 1930s, 40s and 50s

Taranto Sport played Lecce in a game for promotion to Serie B from the local Southern Italian league, Lecce were victorious winning 3–2 after extra time. They were entered into Serie B for the 1929/30 season, the first game they played in the league was against Novara Calcio on 6 October 1929 , which they won 2–1. They would eventually finish 13th. But for the second time in the clubs history, it ceased activity at the end of the 1931–32 season.

Four years later, Lecce came back and went into Serie C, finishing 11th in their return season. Around this time the club was in turmoil, the following season they withdrew from Serie C after four days, and then during the 1938–39 season they finished in 3rd place but were moved down to 12th after it was revealed that the club had violated the league's federal regulations.

The club finished 1st during the 1943–44 season, but club football was suspended for the Second World War. None the less, when club football resumed they finished as champions of Serie C once more, gaining promotion back into Serie B. Two decent seasons followed (finishing 4th and 3rd in respective seasons), with star Silvestri scoring 20 goals in one season, before the club were relegated.

Lecce stayed down in Serie C for six seasons during this period, though this was not a particularly successful time for the club, striker Anselmo Bislenghi scored 83 goals for the club during this period, thus becoming a hero. The club slipped even lower to Serie D where they spent three years.

Seventeen seasons of Serie C: 1960s, 70s and 80s

From 1959 to 1975, Lecce had seventeen seasons in Serie C. They came extremely close to promotion several times during that period, finishing second three seasons in a row (1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74) before gaining promotion in the 1975–76 season.

The same year as their promotion Lecce tasted cup success, winning the Coppa Italia Serie C. In 1976 Lecce took part in the Anglo-Italian Semiprofessional Cup, notching up a 4–0 victory against Scarborough F.C, .

During 1980 a scandal occurred which rocked Italian football, including Lecce under president Franco Jurlano. However, Jurlano was able to demonstrate his innocence and thescandal only lead to disqualification of the player Claudius Merlo. Later, the club was struck by a tragedy in 1983, players Michele Lo Russo and Ciro Pezzella died in an automotive accident. To this day, Lo Russo remains the club record holder for most number of appearances with 415.

Promotion to Serie A: mid-1980s and 90s

Under the management of Eugenio Fascetti, Lecce would achieve promotion to Serie A for the first time in 1985. They finished bottom and were relegated after only one season, but defeated AS Roma 3–2 away in the penultimate game to deal a fatal blow to Roma's title hopes. Losing a promotion play-off 2–1 to A.C. Cesena the following season, they would return to Serie A in 1988.

Under Carlo Mazzone, Lecce finished a respectable 9th place in 1989. Stars of the side included striker Pedro Pasculli and midfielders Antonio Conte and Paolo Benedetti. They lasted three seasons before relegation, and returned two years later. Season 1993–94 saw Lecce finish last with a pitiful 11 points, the lowest ever of any Serie A team, and a second relegation came the following year.

Giampiero Ventura saw Lecce achieve successive promotions before leaving for Cagliari Calcio. Once more, it proved a struggle in Serie A despite the best efforts of striker Francesco Palmieri and a famous away win against AC Milan on 19 October 1997.

In the summer of 1998 Pantaleo Corvino was appointed new sports director, gaining a reputation for scouting new talents in the years to come. The team were good enough to return to Serie A in 1999 and begin another three-year stint in the top-flight, with yet another return to Serie A in 2003.

Three years in Serie A (2003–2006)

In 2004, under Delio Rossi, who had been managing the club since 2002, Lecce achieved an impressive result, reaching the 9th final position after an awful first half of the season. Famous performances include two sensactional victories in a row, first against Italian giants Juventus 4–3 in Turin and then against Internazionale FC 2–1 in Lecce. This helped the club to finish in 10th position. The following season in Serie A 2004-05 Zdenek Zeman oversaw a highly attack-minded team which scored plenty of goals, they ended up in 10th position, putting in the spotlight talents like Valeri Bojinov and Mirko Vucinic. Lecce had the second best attack with 66 goals (Juventus came first with 67 goals) and the worst defence with 73 goal. This is a record, as for the first time the team with the worst defence managed to survive in the history of Serie A.

The Serie A 2005-06 was a continual struggle for Lecce. The club has changed its manager two times (Silvio Baldini for Angelo Adamo Gregucci, and then to youth team coach Roberto Rizzo supported by goalkeeper coach Franco Paleari). The numerous managerial moves could not turn Lecce's fortune as they were relegated in 19th place. In June Giovanni Semeraro returned at the helm of the club after 9 months. The club re-appointed Zdenek Zeman as manager, just one year after he had left the club.

Lecce were unable to avoid relegation from Serie A despite some initial hope due to the Serie A scandal of 2006.

Two-year stint in Serie B and promotion

The club had a mixed start to the Serie B 2006-07 season in Serie B, winning three home games (including a win against early league leaders, Genoa C.F.C.), though they have suffered poor away form. After a large drop in form, recording 10 losses in 18 matches, Zdenek Zeman was sacked as manager and replaced by Giuseppe Papadopulo. On 10 March 2007 Lecce clinched a historical victory over Frosinone Calcio, beaten 5–0 at Stadio Via del Mare. Having gained 36 points in the second-leg part of the season, Lecce ended the season in the middle of the table (9th place).

The Serie B 2007-08 season saw Lecce fight for a place in the Italian Serie A for the next season. Despite earning 83 points (12 more than sixth-placed Pisa Calcio) and boasting the best defence in the tournament, the giallorossi were forced to face play-offs for promotion in the top flight. In the semi final they beat Pisa in both legs (1–0 away and 2–1 at home) to secure a place in the final against Unione Calcio AlbinoLeffe. Then they won the first leg 1–0 away, before securing a 1–1 draw in the second leg at the Via del Mare to gain promotion.

Relegation, new promotion and successful Serie A campaign

After insisting rumors, Papadopulo quit due to a difference of opinion with the general manager of the club and was replaced by Mario Beretta, who had a quite satisfactory start in the Serie A 2008-09 Serie A season. He remained in charge for twenty-seven games, but, due to four defeats in the last five matches, with the team one point below the survival zone, he was sacked and Luigi De Canio was appointed new manager. Seven points earned in ten matches were not enough to secure Lecce a spot in the next Serie A season. Relegation was official with a game to spare, after a 1–1 home draw against ACF Fiorentina.

Lecce had a mixed start in the Serie B 2009-10 Serie B campaign, but clinched first place in November 2009 and kept it for the rest of the season. In May the team were on the verge of promotion, but wasted opportunities in their last two matches, meant they had to wait till the last match to celebrate their eighth elevation to the top flight in the last 25 years. A goalless home draw with U.S. Sassuolo Calcio proved enough to clinch the Serie B title with 75 points and win the Coppa Ali della Vittoria.

Lecce ended a satisfactory Serie A 2010-11 Serie A season successfully avoiding relegation with a game to spare, after beating arch-rival and already relegated AS Bari 2-0 away on May 15, 2011. In the last few matches the team managed to win a tough battle against other underdogs and some glorious teams such as UC Sampdoria, that ended the season in despair.

Out on loan

Notable players

Managerial history

Lecce have had many managers and trainers throughout the history of a club, in some seasons more than one manager was in charge. Here is a chronological list of them from 1927 onwards.

- Serie C
- - Champions – 1945–46, 1975–76, 1995–96

- Coppa Italia Serie C
- - Champions – 1975–76

- Anglo-Italian Cup
- - Champions – 1976–77

Youth Team Honours

- Campionato Primavera
- - Champions – 2002–2003, 2003–2004

- Coppa Italia Primavera
- - Champions – 2001–2002, 2004–2005

- Supercoppa Primavera
- - Champions – 2003–2004, 2004–2005

Player records

All-time Top 10 Lecce Goalscorers

- Vincenzo Sicignano (1 call-up) – 2005
- Marco Cassetti (3 call-ups, 2 caps) – 2005
- Andrea Esposito (1 call-up) – 2009

Stadium Information

- Name – Stadio Via del Mare
- City – Lecce
- Capacity – 36,285
- Inauguration – 1966
- Pitch Size – 105 x 70 metres

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