Junior Messias, from Crotone, celebrates a goal against Napoli DPA via Europa Press / Europa Press
The pandemic is determined to show how long the fall can be to hit bottom. In that trance of sinking, between pleasant and desperate, sometimes he suddenly stands up and the agony ends. In football there is a moment when a team knows that it has reached that landing point, although the figures do not yet support a final judgment. To Crotone, just promoted this year, it happened a few weeks ago when he finally fell off the hook in Serie A. The season had started in the best way, starting a draw against Juventus, the team that all Calabria encourages and the mirror of the dreams of the most destitute region of the country. " Juve in trasferta, Calabria deserta ", used to be read in the south curve of the Olympic in Rome. A xenophobic insult. But also an unappealable sociological reality clearly confirmed one summer afternoon in 2006.
On September 19 of that year, the city of Crotone (60,158 inhabitants) witnessed an almost paranormal phenomenon. The San Giovanni di Dio hospital began to receive an unusual number of patients in the middle of the afternoon who wanted to be admitted due to dubious ailments. There were queues at the reception. Hundreds of family members were also suddenly interested in a relative who had been alone for days looking at the cobblestones of his room. The mystery was soon resolved when a referee's whistle came through the windows. Juventus had dropped to Serie B that year because of the Calciopoli corruption scandal. And that day was the first that the city team faced Vecchia Signora. The Ezio Scida, the stadium of Crotone, is located just below the hospitable mass, from where you can see the entire pitch. When the ball began to roll, hundreds of miraculously recovered people were already crowded into the windows.
The next time they met, last October, the Calabrian team achieved a wonderful draw that sparked optimism at the start of the season. The result made them believe that they could return all the blows to any team, just as they had done with the one that had won the last nine scudetti . That day, however, the stadium was empty and in the hospital windows there were only patients with covid-19
El Crotone (this weekend they lost against Naples 4-3 and have 15 points in 29 games) is, in actually, a philosophical team. They call their fans Pythagoreans. They are known this way because the city was a Greek colony and the place where the Greek humanist established his school of knowledge and later to conquer political power with his disciples. Some 2,300 years later, little remains of that splendor of Magna Graecia. Beyond the fascination for Capo Colonna or some hanging column, the place has become one of the fiefdoms of the 'Ndrangheta in southern Italy. In the province, in the grip of one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, almost everything has been under the control of the most powerful mafia in Europe. Even the football team, with some promiscuity towards organized crime (a Locri-Crotone match was rigged in exchange for a handful of Kalshnikov), was on the verge of being seized by the Catanzaro prosecutor's office.
El Crotone has been a team of boom and bust. But the story of his best player this year, Brazilian Junior Messías, will still keep him in the memory of fans. The striker crossed the Atlantic by boat and ended up in Turin in 2011 distributing household appliances throughout the city. He played in amateur tournaments with a team of Peruvians, he sentenced in series D and C, earning 1,500 euros a month as a footballer. Until he arrived at Crotone at the age of 28. Today at 30, he is an emerging star of the League in which clubs such as Lazio have been interested. The only memory, probably, that will remain next year of the Crotone in the Series A.
You can follow SPORTS on Facebook and Twitter , or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter .