Benevento President Oreste Vigorito welcomes Bacary Sagna and admits their fight for safety is “like breaking into a fort armed with water pistols.”
Former Manchester City, Arsenal and France defender Sagna signed a contract today and declared the club’s “story” is what drew him to the Stadio Vigorito.
They had never even been in Serie B until 2016, but earned back-to-back promotions for their first ever top flight campaign.
“Let’s say the level to reach safety is quite low, around 33 points, and there are still 48 points up for grabs with 12 of those in head-to-head clashes,” Vigorito told Il Mattino newspaper.
“I think we can pick up 26 points, especially as on the Wednesday before the transfer window closed, I gathered the squad together and told them we had to be like one of those battalions under siege in an American movie. We have to break into a fort armed only with water pistols.
“I was clear: anyone who doesn’t feel up to the battle can step aside, they’ll have their wages paid anyway. Everybody stayed put.
“I had great fun on the market, but what’s important is that the mentality of Benevento has changed. Up until October, my players went into the opposition locker rooms to ask for their shirts, as if they were fans. Then some realised this was not a cruise trip round the country.”
Benevento are from the Campania region and will host Serie A leaders Napoli in a local derby on Sunday, with Sagna in the stands.
“It’ll be a celebration of colours and friendship. You might not bet on Benevento, but don’t forget the story of David and Goliath. Hopefully (Greek God and Ruler of the Winds) Aeolus can puff out his cheeks and blow the ball into Napoli’s net.”
It’s a strange game for Vigorito, who was born and raised in Naples as a fan of the Partenopei.
“I passed an exam and my parents rewarded me with a season ticket to the Curva. It was 1967-68 and the Napoli of Jose Altafini and Omar Sivori. I was even at the inauguration of the Stadio San Paolo.
“I mainly went to their games against Milan, as my brother Ciro was a big fan of the Rossoneri, but my heart now is all for Benevento.
“I won’t deny I wept tears for Benevento and doing so in public is a sign of strength. I cried at Alberto Brignoli’s goal: earning our first Serie A point with a goal from our ‘keeper against Milan… He was also wearing the Number 17 (unlucky in Italy) and on that day there was hail in Naples. It felt like all the witches around Benevento had been swept away.”
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