When Torino FC left London after a 1-0 quarter-final defeat against eventual UEFA Cup Winners' Cup victors Arsenal FC in 1994, nobody could imagine that it would be over two decades before the club graced the European scene again. Just two years before that loss to the Gunners, the Granata had lost the UEFA Cup final to AFC Ajax, but harder times were to come.
When they run out against IF Brommapojkarna in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round on Thursday, they will hope to put 20 years of underachievement behind them. Things started to go wrong with demotion to Serie B in 1996 and the club bounced between Italy's top two tiers for the next decade, with three promotions followed by as many relegations. Not only struggling to establish themselves again on the pitch, there were problems aplenty off it. When they won promotion back to Serie A through the play-offs in summer 2005, the club immediately went bankrupt and was forced to restart from scratch in the second division.
Defender Cesare Bovo knows what it means to return to European competition for a club that has had so many lows in their recent history. "We have been working for a month just to overcome this hurdle, we want to go through at any cost," he said of the tie with the Swedish club. "We know it won't be easy but we know it is vital for us to qualify for the group stage," added the 31-year-old.
"We know that our opponents play with a high tempo and intensity, but we want to do well, we are self-confident and we won't underestimate them." It is not the first time that Torino have faced Swedish opposition in their first game of a European season – in fact the last time they were competing for this trophy, in 1992/93, they defeated IFK Norrköping 3-1 on aggregate.
"[Torino defender] Pontus Jansson is Swedish but he couldn't tell me many things about Brommapojkarna because he doesn't speak Italian very well and I'm not fluent in English," explained Bovo. "But I know Torino very well, and I can say that with the experienced players that we have, like [Antonio] Nocerino, [Fabio] Quagliarella and [Cristian] Molinaro, we can finally do well."
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