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Serie A: History, Famous Teams, and Iconic Players

Serie A History

Most people whose interest in European football expands outside of what’s hot at the current moment will have great respect for Serie A. While the top division of Italian football isn’t currently showcasing any teams that realistically compete at the top of Europe, it was only as recently as 2010 that a spectacular Inter Milan side won a jaw-dropping treble.

That was just the most recent in a long line of spectacular teams from Serie A. Juventus and AC Milan are also highly revered names on the global stage. However, the league’s fascinating history with corruption means there’s a murky side to be explored alongside the silverware.

Dispersed Beginnings

The predecessor to Serie A began in 1898 when football teams would compete in regional groups. However, the sport was wildly popular, and so by 1922 Italian football Federation realized something bigger needed to be organized.

Transitioning To a National League

Initially, things were changed, so teams played in a north and south division. This didn’t last long, though, with pressures from the fascist government being a key force in the eventual amalgamation of all teams into one system in 1929. This was the first year in which the National League, as we currently recognize it, was played in Italy.

Finding A National Balance

Governmental pressures stopped foreigners from participating in the football league, threatening to derail the standard of the game in Italy. In response, many clubs opted to bring in players from South America of Italian ancestry who could legally participate.

A new era for Italy and the league

Finding Its International Feet

After the fall of the fascist government in World War II, the reception of foreigners became less hostile, and Serie A started transitioning into a more international league.

In 1964 the Italian Federal Football Association was replaced with the Lega Calcio, and the top division became formally known as Serie A.

This is around the period when Inter Milan became the third dominant force in Italian football, with Juventus and AC Milan winning their first titles almost half a century before Inter got their hands on the trophy.

New Teams In Town

The remolding of the league coincided with a wave of new teams competing for the title. Between the league getting its new name in 1964 and Sampdoria winning their first title in 1990, five teams won their first Serie A title.

Becoming A European Force

In the 1990s, the top Italian teams started to show the rest of the world that they did it as well as anyone else. Many of Italy’s most iconic players to ever grace Europe’s football fields began their careers in this decade. Luigi Buffon, Paolo Maldini, Francesco Totti, and Roberto Mancini were all in their prime in the 1990s.

End Of A Golden Era

This success continued until the 2010s. An Italian World Cup came shortly after AC Milan won the Champions League in what was the highlight of Italian football this century. Juventus recovered from a relegation given as punishment for corruption to dominate Serie A throughout the 2010s. Still, one Champions League final appearance is the closest Italy got to fitting back in with Europe’s elite.

Many teams have looked capable of winning the title since the 2020s began.

Must Know League Facts

  • Inter Milan is the only team that has never missed a season of Serie A football.
  • Juventus have won the competition more times than any other team with 36 wins.
  • Roma has mastered coming second far better than coming first, with 14 runners-up medals compared to 3 winners’ medals.
  • The earliest recorded league winner was Genoa in 1898.
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