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  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Manager Series: Delio Rossi

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Delio Rossi was Lazio manager from 2005-09, winning a Coppa Italia.

Official SS Lazio photo

He was born in Rimini, on January 26, 1960. His football career as a player started in 1978 with Forlimpopoli in Serie D. He stayed two years with 54 league appearances and 2 goals.

In 1980-81 he spent a season with Cattolica, near Rimini, in Serie C2. He played 29 games with 3 goals.

Source Wikipedia

He then spent six seasons with Foggia. His first two years with the "Diavoli del Sud" were in Serie B and the next four in Serie C1. He played 127 league games for the Rossoneri with 3 goals.

In 1987 he moved closer to home and joined Vis Pesaro in Serie C1. He stayed two seasons, playing 40 league games.

His last club was Fidelis Andria in Serie C1 in 1989-90. He played 15 league games for the "Leoni Azzurri".

Rossi then retired and at the young age of 30 started his career as a manager. He started at regional level with Torremaggiore (Foggia) and then coached Foggia Primavera (U19's) for two years (1991-93).

His first big job came in 1993 when he took over as head coach at Salernitana in C1. In his first year the Granata won promotion to Serie B and the following year a good 5th place.

In 1995 he was back at Foggia in Serie B. The "Satanelli" finished 11th.

In 1996-97 he spent a season with Pescara in Serie B. The "Delfini" came 6th.

In 1997 he returned to Salerno. It was a triumph and Salernitana won Serie B and promotion. With this feat Rossi started to be called "The Prophet", in Salerno anyway. The following year however he was unable to keep the "Ippocampi' in Serie A and they went down in 15th place. He was sacked twice but always called back following popular request by the fans. He also received honorary citizenship of Salerno.

In 1999-2000 he spent the season with Genoa in Serie B. The "Grifone" (The Griffin) came 6th.

In 2000-01 he was back at Pescara in Serie B. He was unsuccessful in a survival battle and the "Delfini" (The Dolphins) were relegated.

In January 2002, after a pause, he took on the job with Lecce in Serie A, replacing Alberto Cavasin. The "Lupi" (The Wolves) were relegated to Serie B. In his first full year he took the "Salentini" straight back up to Serie A in 3rd place. The following season he kept the Giallorossi in the big time with an honourable 10th place.

In 2004-05 he spent half a season in Bergamo with Atalanta in Serie A. He took over in December from Andrea Mandorlini. The "Dea” however was relegated to Serie B in 20th place. The Nerazzurri did reach the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia, also knocking out Juventus but were then eliminated by Inter 0-4 on aggregate.

Despite this last failure, in 2005-2006 he arrived in the capital and became manager of Lazio. It was the owner Lotito's second season and he chose Rossi to take over from Giuseppe Papadopulo who had won a derby and led Lazio to survival.

Rossi's first year was difficult but the Biancocelesti finished a satisfactory 6th (UEFA Cup) but then they were docked 30 points for Calciopoli (betting scandal) and demoted to 16th. It was the beginning of the Lotito era, so a period of rebuilding with very few resources, further complicated by judicial sentences.

Source Lazio Wiki

The 2006-07 season started problematically too with an 11- point deduction (later reduced to 3), for the previous year's Calciopoli. Lazio however had a fantastic season, a sort of sporting miracle. The Biancocelesti finished 3rd, qualifying for the Champions League preliminary round and Rossi won his first derby (3-0 and famously jumped into the Gianicolo hill “Fontanone” fountain).

In 2007-08 season was less positive. The "Capitolini" finished 12th. The highlight was a 3-2 derby win in the 92nd minute. In CL they won the preliminary against Dinamo Bucharest (1-1, 3-1) and then won 1 (Werder Bremen 2-1), drew 2 (Olympiakos 1-1, Real Madrid 2-2) and lost 3 (Werder Bremen 1-2, Real Madrid 1-3 and Olympiakos 1-2) and were eliminated. In the Coppa Italia they reached the semi-finals (Inter 0-2 on aggregate).

The 2008-09 season would be his last but it ended in glory. In the league the "Aquile" finished a mediocre 10th. They did win another derby 4-2 but overall things could have gone better. It was in the Coppa Italia however that they lived their finest hour. Lazio knocked out Benevento (5-1), Atalanta (2-0), Milan (2-1), Torino (3-1), Juventus (4-2 on aggregate) and triumphed in the final on penalties against Sampdoria (1-1 and then 6-5). It was Delio Rossi's first big trophy and well deserved for his hard work and humility. That sadly was his last season with Lazio but he ended on a huge high.

In 2009-10 he joined Palermo in Serie A. He stayed two years with a 5th place (Europa League) followed by an 8th place and a Coppa Italia final (lost 1-3 to Inter).

In 2011-12 Rossi became a "Viola" and moved to Fiorentina. It was not a great year for the Florentines and they finished 13th. It will also be remembered for the infamous punch up in the dugout between Delio Rossi and his player Adem Ljajić.

In 2012-13 he took over at Sampdoria half way through the season. After 17 games he replaced Ciro Ferrara and ended up 14th. His first game was a 0-1 home defeat to Lazio but "La Samp" then beat Juventus 2-1 away a week later. In total he won 6 (including Juventus twice and Roma), drew 7 and lost 7 (including Lazio twice).

In May 2015 he took on the job at Bologna, for the last four matches of Serie B, replacing Uruguayan Diego Lopez. He won 1, drew 2 and lost 1 and Bologna reached the Serie A playoffs in 4th place. In the Semi-final the Rossoblu eliminated Avellino (3-3 on aggregate but Bologna were better positioned in regular season) and in the final drew twice with Pescara and won promotion (on the same principle as in the semi).

Rossi then took a break and reappeared abroad in Bulgaria. In 2017-18 he joined Levski Sofia and the Blues finished 3rd. They reached the Bulgarian Cup Final but lost to Slavia Sofia on penalties.

In April 2019 he moved back to Sicily and managed Palermo in Serie B for the last four matches, replacing Roberto Stellone. He won 1 and drew 3 and the Rosanero finished 11th. Rossi then resigned due to divergences with volatile owner Massimo Zamparini.

On November 29, 2019 he became Ascoli manager in Serie B, taking over from Valerio Bertotto. He only lasted 5 matches with "Il Picchio" (1 draw and 4 defeats) and was replaced by Andrea Sottil (now Udinese manager).

Rossi then took a pause and on April 2, 2023 started up again with Foggia in Serie C. He won 3 out of 4 matches with the "Satanelli' (Little Devils) and reached the playoffs. The Rossoneri then eliminated Potenza, Audace Cerignola (overturning a first leg 1-4 defeat), Crotone (3-2 on aggregate), Pescara (on penalties), but lost the final against Lecco (5-2 on aggregate). He then resigned.

Delio Rossi has had a long managerial career with inevitable ups and downs. He has had some great successes; promotions to Serie B and A with Salernitana, promotion to Serie A with Lecce, Champions League qualification and Coppa Italia triumph with Lazio and promotion to Serie A with Bologna. The fact that he is often called back to clubs where he has worked before confirms the fact that is well liked wherever he goes, independent of the results on the field.

As a manager he is renowned for forming and working well with youngsters. His teams play with a solid four at the back, three in midfield and three up front, a 4-3-3 of Zeman style. The Bohemian is obviously one of his models although Rossi is more flexible and adaptable in his tactical approach.

As mentioned Rossi is a very likable character, down to earth and humble. He is not a showman or a protagonist, often shying away from the limelight. Some pundits claim this was also his weakness in the sense he did not auto-promote himself in the media, as some coaches do, and this cost him visibility and possibly a more prestigious career.

At Lazio he was immensely popular, possibly up there with the greats Sven-Goran Eriksson and Tommaso Maestrelli. Many compared him to the "Maestro", his human qualities, simplicity, a family man of moral values. Rossi often used proverbs to describe footballing situations. One I remember is "One must be at the station when the train passes". All these qualities made him greatly liked by the Lazio faithful. Lazio also played good football and were entertaining to watch

Another matter, and far from a minor one, is that Rossi won silverware, the 2009 Coppa Italia. The image of Rossi in tears, shattered but happy, his tie loose around his neck parading the cup will live with Lazio fans forever. GRAZIE DELIO!!



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