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Empoli
Empoli F.C. logo (2021).png
Full name Empoli Football Club S.p.A.
Nickname(s) Gli Azzurri (The Blues)
Founded 1920; 103 years ago (1920)
Ground Stadio Carlo Castellani
Ground Capacity 16,284
Chairman Fabrizio Corsi
Head coach Paolo Zanetti
League Serie B
2018–19 Serie A, 18th of 20 (relegated)
Third colours


Empoli Football Club, commonly referred to as Empoli, is an Italian football club based in Empoli, Metropolitan City of Florence. Founded in 1920, the side is part of a select group of Italian football clubs that do not belong to a provincial capital city that have participated in the top-flight.

Empoli has spent most of its history in professional football. In Europe, the best results obtained was participation in the 2007–08 UEFA Cup.

History

Empoli through the ages 2
The performance of Empoli in the Italian football league structure since the first season of a unified Serie A (1929/30).

From the 1920s to the 1970s

In August 1920, Foot Ball Club Empoli and the football section Unione Sportiva Empoli were born. After the participation of a tournament in San Miniato, the two merged into a single local football club. The next season, the new club, after having obtained in September affiliation in the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) ratified by the Tuscan Regional Committee, was included in Group A of the Tuscan Promozione 1921–22, but did take part due to economic problems, choosing instead to join the league of Terza Categoria, where the team achieved second place in the group A.

In the 1922–23 season, Empoli finished in second place in Group A of the Terza Categoria, gaining admission to the final round after winning the play-off in Florence, held on 15 April 1923 against Pontedera, 1–0. The season concluded with a third place in the group final.

The following three seasons, from 1923 to 1926, Empoli continued to play in the Tuscan third division. Then, in the 1926–27 season, Empoli won the Group A division of Tuscany, and was admitted to the interregional finals; thanks to a fourth place in Group G, the Tuscans were promoted in the North Division of the Second Division 1927–28, the third Italian football tier of the era. In the following season the team was then inserted in Group C of the North Division, which concluded in fourth place, but for economic reasons refused the invitation to take part in the next championship of Prima Divisione, and therefore followed the downgrading of the Seconda Divisione from third to fourth tier. However, already the following season, in the 1928–29 Seconda Divisione, the club won promotion, winning the Tuscan championship, and returned to the North Division of Prima Divisione.

Empoli was in the Prima Divisione, then Serie C, until the 1935–36 season, when the team withdrawn halfway through the season because of the call to arms for many of its players. Empoli resumed competitive activity from Prima Divisione the next season, under the name of OND Empoli, with the colours gray and blue; the team won the Tuscan Group A again gaining admission in Serie C. Until the shutdown from the causes of war, Empoli played in Serie C, obtaining a best result of sixth place in 1938–39. Meanwhile, the club was renamed OND Interaziendale Italo Gambaccioni Section Soccer from 1938 to 1941, until the name was changed again to Associazione Calcio Empol. On 15 September 1935, Empoli debuted in the Coppa Italia with a 1–0 home success against Pontedera.

After World War II, Empoli took up the club name of Empoli Foot Ball Club after being called Sports Group Azelio Landi for a brief period between October and November 1944, and was admitted into Serie B thanks to a third-place finish in the 1945–46 season. In Serie B, Empoli played for four consecutive seasons, finishing in third place in the 1946–47 season. Relegation of the club – which by then had adopted the colour blue – occurred at the end of 1949–50 championship. The permanence in Serie C lasted for six seasons: in the summer of 1955, the club sold most of its players and at the end of the 1955–56 season, the Tuscan side were relegated to Serie D. After three seasons in the fourth division, in 1959–60 the Azzurri risked relegation to the regional level after finishing in 15th place, on equal points with Carrarese and Rieti. The club managed to escape relegation before drawing with Carrarese and then surpassing Lazio, in Pesaro, with a goal from Vezzosi. In 1960–61, Empoli returned to the third tier of Italian football, but for only one season, again suffering relegation.

The club returned to Serie C on 9 June 1963 after beating Tempio 2–0 in the play-off in Genoa. The club's permanence in the third tier of Italian football, then called Serie C1, lasted for 20 years until the 1982–83 season.

The 1980s and 1990s

In 1986, the small-town club was promoted to Serie A. Playing their first few home games in Florence, Empoli's Serie A debut resulted in a 1–0 win over Internazionale. Helped by a nine-point deduction from Udinese, they avoided relegation with 23 points and 13 goals in 30 games. Empoli themselves received a five-point penalty the following season, and were relegated despite an improved showing. They were relegated again to Serie C1 in 1989.

This club then spent several seasons in Serie C1 before returning to Serie B in 1996 and achieving a second successive promotion in 1997. With Luciano Spalletti at the helm, Empoli defied the odds to finish in 12th place and avoid relegation. Relegation the following year began a three-year stay in Serie B, in which time the club became renowned for nurturing its own outstanding young talent.

Promotions to Serie A in 2002 and 2005 have seen the club emerge as battlers against relegation. They ended the 2005–06 season in tenth place in the top-flight. As a result of the Serie A match-fixing scandal at the end of that season, they gained qualification for the UEFA Cup for the following season, however they did not play in it because the club management failed to apply for a UEFA license. In the 2006–07 season, the club once again qualified for the UEFA Cup.

The years 2000 and participation in the UEFA Cup

With the prospect of European football approaching, the management strengthened the squad, most notably signing a number of young players from large Serie A clubs, such as Rincón of Inter, Ignazio Abate and Lino Marzoratti of Milan and Sebastian Giovinco, Claudio Marchisio and Rej Volpato of Juventus on loan or co-ownership deals. Empoli marked their debut in the UEFA Cup with a two-legged match against Zürich, losing 4–2 on aggregate. A poor showing in the initial part of the season then led chairman Fabrizio Corsi to sack Luigi Cagni, who led the Tuscans to UEFA Cup qualification, and replace him with Alberto Malesani. However, the club's fortunes did not change and Malesani was sacked after a 2–0 defeat to Sampdoria which left them at the bottom of the table. Cagni was re-appointed on 31 March 2008 but the team suffered a last-minute relegation. Cagni resigned and was replaced by Silvio Baldini ahead of the 2008–09 season. Baldini's tenure, however, did not prove to be successful, as the Tuscans ended the season only in fifth place, and were later defeated in the promotion playoffs by Brescia.

Between Serie B and Serie A

Despite modest results, Baldini was sacked. By December 2011, the club had gone through four coaches since the 2009–10 season. The club maintained their Serie B status dramatically in 2011–12. After a poor season, Empoli finished 18th, one point from safety, which meant a relegation play-off against Vicenza over two legs. The first game finished goalless before Vicenza led 2–0 in the second leg with 30 minutes to go. However, two goals in two minutes saw the Azzuri level the tie before Massimo Maccarone secured a 3–2 victory in the fourth minute of injury time. 2012–13 saw the club finish fourth, a dramatic improvement on the previous season, but lost the promotion play-off final to Livorno over two legs. The club secured promotion back to Serie A the following season, finishing as runners-up to Palermo and stayed in the top flight for two seasons, finishing 15th in 2014–15 and 10th in 2015–16. Going into the final matchday of the 2016–17 Serie A season, Empoli were one point above the relegation zone ahead of Crotone, however were eventually relegated to Serie B after they failed to beat Palermo, while Crotone beat Lazio. After a triumph of the 2017–18 Serie B, Empoli promptly regained promotion to Serie A, after winning Serie B on 28 April 2018, four matches in advance. In the final matchday of the 2018–19 Serie A season, Empoli were one point above the relegation zone ahead of Genoa, however were eventually relegated to Serie B after they were defeated by Internazionale, while Genoa drew with Fiorentina, both sides finished on the same number of points but Genoa had a greater goal difference by one. However, Empoli finished first in the 2020–21 Serie B season, to be their third title in the competition in their history.

Players

Current squad

No. Position Player
1 Italy GK Samuele Perisan
3 New Zealand DF Liberato Cacace
4 Poland DF Sebastian Walukiewicz (on loan from Cagliari)
5 Italy MF Alberto Grassi (on loan from Parma)
6 Belgium DF Koni De Winter (on loan from Juventus)
8 Scotland MF Liam Henderson
9 Uruguay FW Martín Satriano (on loan from Inter Milan)
10 Albania MF Nedim Bajrami
11 Côte d'Ivoire MF Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (on loan from Lazio)
13 Italy GK Guglielmo Vicario
14 Croatia FW Marko Pjaca (on loan from Juventus)
17 Sweden FW Emmanuel Ekong
18 Romania MF Răzvan Marin (on loan from Cagliari)
20 Italy MF Duccio Degli Innocenti
21 Italy MF Jacopo Fazzini
No. Position Player
22 Kosovo GK Samir Ujkani
23 Italy FW Mattia Destro
24 Nigeria DF Tyronne Ebuehi
25 Italy MF Filippo Bandinelli (captain)
26 Italy DF Lorenzo Tonelli
28 Italy FW Nicolò Cambiaghi (on loan from Atalanta)
30 Slovenia DF Petar Stojanović
32 Switzerland MF Nicolas Haas
33 Italy DF Sebastiano Luperto (on loan from Napoli)
34 Albania DF Ardian Ismajli
35 Italy MF Tommaso Baldanzi
36 Italy DF Gabriele Guarino
40 Slovenia GK Lovro Štubljar
65 Italy DF Fabiano Parisi
Italy FW Francesco Caputo (on loan from Sampdoria)

Other players under contract

No. Position Player

Out on loan

No. Position Player
Italy GK Niccolò Chiorra (at Mantova until 30 June 2023)
Italy GK Gabriel Meli (at Apollon Larissa until 30 June 2023)
Italy DF Simone Canestrelli (at Pisa until 30 June 2023)
Italy DF Francesco Donati (at Ascoli until 30 June 2023)
Italy DF Leonardo Pezzola (at Piacenza until 30 June 2023)
Albania MF Kristjan Asllani (at Inter Milan until 30 June 2023)
No. Position Player
Italy MF Luca Belardinelli (at Sudtirol until 30 June 2023)
Italy MF Giovanni Crociata (at Sudtirol until 30 June 2023)
Italy MF Tommaso Fantacci (at Pontedera until 30 June 2023)
Slovenia MF Leo Štulac (at Palermo until 30 June 2023)
Italy FW Andrea La Mantia (at SPAL until 30 June 2023)
Italy FW Davide Merola (at Cosenza until 30 June 2023)

Primavera

No. Position Player
31 Italy GK Gian Marco Fantoni
37 Italy GK Jacopo Seghetti
No. Position Player
38 Italy DF Gabriele Indragoli

Coaching staff

Position Name
Head Coach Italy Paolo Zanetti
Assistant Coach Italy Alberto Bertolini
Technical Coach Italy Nicola Beati
Italy Stefano Bianconi
Goalkeeper Coach Italy Vincenzo Sicignano
Fitness Coach Italy Rocco Perrotta
Italy Fabio Trentin
Rehab Coach Italy Paolo Giordani
Match Analyst Italy Damiano Bertani
Italy Giampiero Pavone
Head of medical staff Italy Luca Gatteschi
Club Doctor Italy Jacopo Giuliattini
Nutritionist Italy Marta Pieraccioli
Physiotherapist Italy Mirco Baldini
Italy Francesco Marino
Italy Claudio Patti
Podiatrist Italy Daniele Palla
Kit Manager Italy Luca Batini
Italy Sauro Spera
Italy Riccardo Nacci
Sporting Director Italy Pietro Accardi
Secretary Italy Debora Catastini

Notable former players

Players with international caps, appearances in Olympic Games or 100 league appearances with Empoli
  • See also: Category:Empoli F.C. players

Former managers

See Category:Empoli F.C. managers.
  • Italy Antonio Vojak (1937–39)
  • Italy Enrico Colombari (1939–40)
  • Italy Sergio Cervato (1968–70)
  • Italy Sergio Castelletti (1971–72)
  • Italy Renzo Ulivieri (1972–76)
  • Italy Bruno Giorgi (1976–77)
  • Italy Vincenzo Guerini (1983–85)
  • Italy Luigi Simoni (1988–89)
  • Italy Vincenzo Montefusco (1989–91)
  • Italy Francesco Guidolin (1991–92)
  • Italy Adriano Lombardi (1993–94)
  • Italy Luciano Spalletti (1995–98)
  • Italy Luigi Delneri (1998)
  • Italy Mauro Sandreani (1998–99)
  • Italy Corrado Orrico (1998–99)
  • Italy Elio Gustinetti (1999–00)
  • Italy Silvio Baldini (1999–03)
  • Italy Mario Somma (2004–06)
  • Italy Luigi Cagni (2006–07)
  • Italy Alberto Malesani (2007–08)
  • Italy Luigi Cagni (2008)
  • Italy Silvio Baldini (2008–09)
  • Italy Salvatore Campilongo (2009–10)
  • Italy Alfredo Aglietti (2010–11)
  • Italy Giuseppe Pillon (2011)
  • Italy Guido Carboni (2011–12)
  • Italy Alfredo Aglietti (2012)
  • Italy Maurizio Sarri (2012–15)
  • Italy Marco Giampaolo (2015–16)
  • Italy Giovanni Martusciello (2016–2017)
  • Italy Vincenzo Vivarini (2017)
  • Italy Aurelio Andreazzoli (2017–2018)
  • Italy Giuseppe Iachini (2018–2019)
  • Italy Aurelio Andreazzoli (2019)
  • Italy Cristian Bucchi (2019)
  • Italy Roberto Muzzi (2019–2020)
  • Italy Alessio Dionisi (2020–2021)
  • Italy Aurelio Andreazzoli (2021-2022)
  • Italy Paolo Zanetti (2022-present)

In Europe

UEFA Cup

Season Round Club Home Away Aggregate
2007–08 First round Switzerland Zürich 2–1 0–3 2–4

Honours

Winners: 2004–05, 2017–18, 2020–21
  • Serie C1
Winners: 1928–1929, 1982–1983,
  • Coppa Italia Serie C
Winners: 1995–96

Divisional movements

Series Years Last Promotions Relegations
A 14 2021–22 - Decrease 6 (1988, 1999, 2004, 2008, 2017, 2019)
B 22 2020–21 Increase 7 (1986, 1997, 2002, 2005, 2014, 2018, 2021) Decrease 2 (1950, 1989)
C 47 1995–96 Increase 3 (1946, 1983, 1996) Decrease 3 (1936, 1957, 1962)
83 out of 90 years of professional football in Italy since 1929
D 7 1962–63 Increase 3 (1937, 1961, 1963) Never
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