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Castellazzi followed Brescia promoted to Serie A in the summer of 2000. He made his Serie A debut on 21 January 2001, against Vicenza. In the 2001–02 season, he was first-choice for the team team but during the next season lost his place to Matteo Sereni. After being loaned to Reggina and Catania in the 2002–03 season, he finally became a regular starter again in the 2004–05 season, in which he played all 38 Serie A matches. Castellazzi initially the first choice of 2003–04 season, but lost his place to Federico Agliardi after matchday 4 and regained his place on matchday 23.
Brescia vs Vicenza
Match Issued Shirt
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This style of shirt with “Brescia Calcio 1911” printed on the back was only used by the team during the Italy Cup home game against Vicenza which took place on August 26th 2000. For the rest of the season the shirts used by the team were without the printing on the back. This shirt was issued for Baggio because the player was not part of the game.
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Vittorio Mero (21 May 1974 – 23 January 2002) was an Italian footballer who played as a defender. He spent his whole career in Italy playing for lower and high division clubs such as A.S. Casale Calcio, Parma F.C., Crevalcore, Ravenna Calcio, Brescia Calcio and Ternana Calcio. He started his career with an amateur team, Belvedere in 1990–91, and made his debut at the professional level at the age of 17 for A.S. Casale Calcio. The following year Mero signed for Parma F.C., playing with the Primavera team before being sold to Crevalcore, with whom he won the Serie C2 league. In 1995, he was signed by Ravenna, team for which he played three seasons, obtaining a promotion to Serie B. He moved to Brescia in 1998, obtaining his first promotion to Serie A and making his European debut as team captain in the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup, in which Brescia reached the finals, eventually losing to Paris Saint-Germain. During his time there, he was nicknamed Sceriffo (Sheriff) by his coach Nedo Sonetti for his diligence and reliability. Mero died on 23 January 2002, in a car accident in the A4 highway near Rovato. Brescia honoured him by retiring the #13 jersey.
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After two years with Inter, Baggio decided not to renew his expiring contract due to his conflicts with Marcello Lippi, making him a free agent at age 33. He was linked with smaller Serie A clubs such as Napoli and Reggina, and also several Premier League and La Liga clubs, including Barcelona. Baggio ultimately transferred to Serie A newcomers Brescia, under head coach Carlo Mazzone, aiming to save them from relegation, and staying in Italy in order to have a greater opportunity of being called up for the 2002 World Cup. He was made captain and was given the number 10 shirt, playing as an attacking midfielder. Despite injury problems during the first half of the season, Baggio re-found his form and managed ten goals and ten assists in the 2000–01 season. Brescia finished in a joint seventh place, their best Serie A finish since the league’s re-establishment in 1946, and qualified for the UEFA Intertoto Cup, also reaching the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia, losing to eventual winners Fiorentina. Baggio helped Brescia to the final of the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup, where they were defeated by Paris Saint-Germain on away goals. Baggio scored one goal in the tournament, in the final from a penalty. His performances earned him a nomination for the 2001 Ballon d’Or, and he finished 25th overall in the rankings. Baggio was one of the best offensive playmakers in the league, winning the Guerin d’oro Award in 2001, awarded by the Italian sports magazine il Guerin Sportivo, to the player with the highest average rating throughout the season with at least 19 appearances. At the start of 2001–02 season, Baggio scored eight goals in the first nine matches, leading him to the top of the Serie A goalscoring table. In his eighth league appearance of the season, against Piacenza, Baggio scored a goal but later suffered an injury. A week later, against Venezia, he scored from a penalty, but he endured a more serious injury following a hard challenge which caused him to tear the ACL of his left knee, keeping him out of action for four months. He suffered a second serious injury that season, tearing the meniscus in his left knee, after returning to the team, and coming off the bench, in the Coppa Italia semi-final against Parma on 31 January 2002. He was operated on 4 February 2002 and he returned for three matches before the end of the season, making a recovery in 76 days. On 21 April 2002, in the first game after his comeback, Baggio came on as a substitute to score two goals against Fiorentina, helping Brescia win the match. He scored again against Bologna, saving Brescia from relegation on the final matchday, and bringing his seasonal tally to 11 goals in 12 Serie A matches. Despite Baggio’s performances and public demand, Italy national team head coach Giovanni Trapattoni did not deem him fully fit, prompting the coach to leave Baggio out of the final squad for the 2002 World Cup. Trapattoni also expressed concern about bringing Baggio to the World Cup due to the presence of Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero in his role, believing that this could create a rivalry between the players. After missing out on the tournament, Baggio reversed his initial decision to retire after the World Cup, expressing his intention to surpass the 200 Serie A goal mark.
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Baggio maintained a high level of performance under new coach Gianni De Biasi. Baggio managed 12 goals and 9 assists during the 2002–03 season, helping Brescia to an eighth-place finish and another UEFA Intertoto Cup spot. He scored his 300th career goal from a penalty on 15 December 2002, in Brescia’s 3–1 home victory over Perugia, also setting-up one of Igli Tare’s goals. Baggio was the first player in over 50 years to reach this milestone, and with 318 goals, he is the fourth-highest scoring Italian player in all competitions, behind only Silvio Piola, Alessandro Del Piero and Giuseppe Meazza. In the 2003–04 season, the final season of his career, Baggio recorded 12 goals and 11 assists. He scored his 200th goal in Serie A in a 2–2 draw against Parma on 14 March 2004, saving Brescia from relegation, as they finished the season in 11th place. Baggio was the first player in almost 30 years to surpass the 200-goal milestone, and is currently only one of seven players to have accomplished the feat. Baggio scored his final and 205th Serie A career goal on the second last matchday, in a 2–1 home win over Coppa Italia winners Lazio on 9 May 2004; he also set up Brescia’s first goal in that match. Baggio played his last career match on 16 May 2004 on the final matchday of the season at the San Siro against A.C. Milan, which ended in a 4–2 loss to the Serie A champions; during the game, he set-up Matuzalém’s second goal. In the 88th minute, De Biasi substituted Baggio, prompting the 80,000 present at the San Siro to give him a standing ovation; A.C. Milan’s captain, defender Paolo Maldini, who was Baggio’s former teammate both with the Italy national team and Milan, also embraced him before he left the pitch.
Match Worn Captain Arm Bands
“Roberto Baggio was the best Italian fantasista; he was better than Meazza and Boniperti, and he was amongst the greatest of all time, right behind Maradona, Pelé, and maybe Cruyff. Without the injury problems and the difficulties with his knees, he would have been the very best player in history” Carlo Mazzone
Things to Know:
With Brescia, Baggio scored 46 goals in 101 appearances in all competitions, scoring 45 goals in 95 Serie A appearances, and one goal in two European matches. Baggio also made four Coppa Italia appearances with Brescia. Baggio retired as Brescia’s all-time leading goalscorer in Serie A. He ended his career with 205 goals in Serie A, making him the seventh-highest scorer of all time, behind Silvio Piola, Francesco Totti (who overtook him in 2011), Gunnar Nordahl, Giuseppe Meazza, José Altafini and Antonio Di Natale (who overtook him in 2015). Baggio’s number 10 shirt was retired by Brescia in his honour, and he is considered the club’s greatest ever player. Before Baggio had joined Brescia, they had never been able to avoid relegation after being newly promoted to Serie A, in over 40 years. During the four years under Baggio, Brescia recorded their best ever Serie A run and were never relegated.