What makes Atalanta special?

They are named after a mythical huntress, their striker inspired a novelty hit and they were too good for Everton in their opening group stage game; meet Atalanta!

Atalanta players celebrate overwhelming Everton on matchday one
Atalanta players celebrate overwhelming Everton on matchday one ©Getty Images

Founded: 1907
Nickname: Orobici (from 'Orobi', the tribe that once inhabited the Bergam region), La Dea (The Goddess)

UEFA club competition honours
• none

Domestic honours (most recent title in brackets)
Domestic cup: 1 (1963)

• The club was founded in 1907 and named in honour of a courageous huntress and athlete from Greek mythology (hence the nickname La Dea – The Goddess). Happy being single, Atalanta told would-be suitors she would only marry them if they could outrun her – and that she would kill any who failed to do so. Plenty tried and failed until Hippomenes succeeded – and got the girl.

• Atalanta have one of Italy's best academies, nurturing Italy greats Gaetano Scirea, Antonio Cabrini, Roberto Donadoni and Alessio Tacchinardi. Mino Favini, now retired at 81, oversaw its development, the man known as Il Mago di Meda (the Wizard of Meda) explaining: "We like the way Ajax deal with young players. They don't care about results on the pitch; they are only interested in showing their youngsters how to play."

• That production line is still rolling. Full-back Davide Zappacosta, who scored for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League on matchday one, is an Atalanta alumnus, with the likes of Alessandro Bastoni (signed by Inter but back on loan in Bergamo), Filippo Melegoni and Christian Capone (out on loan at Pescara) tipped for great things. "I can confirm that the group of players born in 1999 are well above average in terms of quality," explained Favini.

• Before winning EURO 1968 with Italy and the UEFA European Cup with La Grande Inter in 1964/65, winger Angelo Domenghini carved out a unique place in Atalanta's history. He scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 San Siro success against Torino in the 1963 Coppa Italia final – the club's only substantial trophy success to date.

Alejandro Gómez, AKA 'Papu'
Alejandro Gómez, AKA 'Papu'©Getty Images

• Their star forward has a hit dance in his honour. Nicknamed 'Papu' (because his mother called him 'Papuchi' as a child – a meaningless but typical baby name in his native Argentina), Alejandro Gómez's goals for Atalanta inspired DJ Matrix (AKA Matteo Schiavo) to write the Baila Como El Papu (Dance Like The Papu) in his honour. It became a massive YouTube hit, with over 12 million views. "It was almost a joke but the song became popular in Spain, Argentina, Peru," DJ Matrix said. "Kids love it."

• The club caught Italy's imagination with a run to the 1987/88 European Cup Winners' Cup semi-finals, despite playing in Serie B. Relegated in 1986/87 before losing to Napoli in the Coppa Italia final, the Bergamo club were coached by Emiliano Mondonico and led on the pitch by former Swedish international Glenn Strömberg, and made it past Merthyr Tydfil, OFI Crete and Sporting CP before losing out to eventual winners Mechelen, featuring goalkeeping great Michel Preud'homme.

• Europe brought out the best in the Orobici again in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup when – with Paulo Caniggia in attack - they eliminated a Dinamo Zagreb side fielding the likes of Davor Šuker and Zvonimir Boban, then overcame Köln before losing once more to the eventual winners – this time an Inter side featuring Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann – in the quarter-finals.

Highlights: Atalanta v Everton
Highlights: Atalanta v Everton

• They are currently homeless in European terms. Atalanta are playing their UEFA Europa League home games in Reggio Emilia, with work set to get under way next year to modernise the Atleti Azzurri d'Italia Stadium, which the club recently bought from the city of Bergamo. The Curva Pisani, where the most club's most passionate fans sit, is named in honour of Atalanta forward Federico Pisani, who died in a car crash in 1997 when he was only 22. The club's training base in Zingonia is also named after Pisani.

• The club's president is a former Atalanta player. Entrepreneur Antonio Percassi started his career playing alongside Gaetano Scirea in the Atalanta defence, but left the club in 1977, later embarking on a successful business career.

• Their goalkeeper likes to live dangerously. Etrit Berisha is working towards getting a flying licence, having enjoyed doing aerobatics as a passenger in his friend's four-seater aeroplane, "It's very exciting up there, watching the infinite – I feel free," said the Albanian international. He is not, however, free to take penalties, as he did with his previous club in Sweden, Kalmar. "I would like to, but in Italy people are not used to goalkeepers taking penalties," he said. "People are scared we would get caught on the counter if I miss, but I never miss."

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