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No messin' with Messina

Published: Friday 24 September 2004, 12.00CET
FC Messina Peloro's wins over AS Roma and AC Milan have taken Italy by surprise.
Published: Friday 24 September 2004, 12.00CET

No messin' with Messina

FC Messina Peloro's wins over AS Roma and AC Milan have taken Italy by surprise.
By Paolo Menicucci

They had to wait 39 years to get back to Serie A after being relegated in 1965, but FC Messina Peloro have returned to the Italian top flight in style with two great results this week.

Sensational wins
After a goalless draw at Parma FC in their first game of the season, the Sicilian side beat last season's runners-up, AS Roma, 4-3 at the weekend and followed that with a stunning 2-1 victory away to champions AC Milan on Wednesday night.

'Simply incredible'
"It's simply incredible," said Messina's 50-year-old coach, Bortolo Mutti, after his side's win at the San Siro. "We are second behind Juventus [FC]. I think some Messina fans will take a picture of the Serie A table so they can remember this moment forever.

'Impossible' games
"I knew this side had fantastic character," he added. "Last season we were bottom of the table in Serie B and finally we managed to get promoted. But I never expected to beat Roma and Milan. We were saying our season would start from the fourth round after these 'impossible' games and now we have seven points."

'Tourist trip'
Messina president Pietro Franza was even more surprised. "I was expecting to lose 3-0 against Milan," he said. "We came here as if it was a tourist trip to the San Siro and we won." And deservedly so, according to Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti. "Messina played good football," he said. "We made some mistakes, they punished us and deserved to win the game."

Sicilian excitement
Messina were famous as the club where Italy's 1990 FIFA World Cup hero Totò Schillaci made his name. However, since their promotion, the excitement around the team has been incredible - and only enhanced by the opening of their new 40,000-seater San Fillippo stadium, replacing the old Celeste.

Summer reinforcements

During the summer Messina recruited a few experienced players such as Greek goalkeeper Dimitris Eleftheropoulos, defenders Mirko Conte and Marco Zanchi, midfield player Massimo Donati, and a few promising players including the Brazilian defender Rafael and Serbia and Montenegro forward Ivica Iliev.

Dazzling debutants
But the biggest surprises so far have been 27-year-old midfield player Domenico Giampà and 29-year-old striker Riccardo Zampagna. The two Serie A debutants scored in both matches against Roma and Milan. The 168cm tall Giampà was flying high after defeating the champions. "It's incredible. We never expected to beat Milan," he said. "Now we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep playing like we are."

Derby delight
The victory was special for Conte and Donati too. The first is a former FC Internazionale Milano player, while the second is on loan from the Rossoneri. "It was like winning a derby for me," said Conte.

Parisi power
But the most highly rated Messina player is left-back Alessandro Parisi, who is nicknamed 'Il Roberto Carlos dello Stretto' - the Roberto Carlos of the Messina strait - after scoring 14 goals in Serie B last season. Many top Italian clubs were interested in signing him last summer, but the defender decided to stay put.

Club commitment
"I could have joined a big club but Messina is not a second choice for me," said Parisi, who scored a penalty against Roma. "It's always good to receive important offers but we want to achieve important results with Messina."

'Fighting spirit'
"Our main strength is that we never give up," added Conte. "Our fighting spirit and enthusiasm are everlasting." Having proved that against two of Serie A's giants this week, Messina could be ready to shake Italian football to its foundations this season.

Last updated: 20/08/10 2.14CET

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