Rolando Aarons might not bring out the biggest headlines in the English press, but the England U.20 international did spend a bit of time at Hellas Verona, playing for the club back in 2018. Aarons, a young player at Newcastle United needed a bit of experience and manager at the time Rafael Benitez had his connections and his former assistant Fabio Pecchia was at the time in charge of the Italians.
Not seen many other English players wearing the yellow and blue colours of Verona, but the team that currently are competing with the best in Serie A, had an interesting past and to have been in the City in the past, you start your fairy love affair, looking for the results and how they are doing, not that it has gone while, but still looking on from a bit of distance.
A beautiful city, the famous balcony of Romeo and Juliet, and of course their famous Verona Arena, were you can feel a special and great atmosphere during concerts and operas. Must be great to be in these surroundings at the same time playing football.
Rolando Aarons didn’t stay long in Verona, and today back in England with Newcastle United, and loaned out and a bit of a nomad with recent spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Wycombe Wanderers and at present in Scotland with Motherwell.
But that has not stopped Verona at all, and current manager, Croatian Ivan Juric, is doing a grand job with the yellow and blue. Most players are Italians and some are familiar, such as Fabio Borini, the forward that has a long and strange past in English football with spells at Swansea, Chelsea, Liverpool and Sunderland. He has also been at Roma and AC Milan, so a well travelled man that has joined just recently and scored twice in five league games.
Former Leeds United goalkeeper Marco Silvestre has seen a great career rise after joining from his spell at Elland Road and curretly at the age of 28 among those goalkeepers noticed in Serie A. Former Benfica B defender, 24 year old Polish international Pawel Dawidowicz is one to notice, really hard and well bulid defender that knows his job and growing as the games are played week in and week out.
Brazilian Alan Empereur should also be mentioned. The 25 year old has a long life behind in football already with a number of club swaps in his career. Moving to Italy and Fiorentina from Atletico Mineiro back in 2014. Since then it’s been a bit of a ride, loan spells at Ischia, Livorno and Bari, and permanent moves to Teramo, Salimetana and Foggia before his move to Verona in 2018.
The 35 year old captain Giampaolo Pazzini is the heart in the team. With grand experience from a number of top clubs in Italy he joined Verona back in 2015, and since been very important. The former italian international with 25 caps is of course a player of great importance.
This season might not be as fantastic as the 1984-85 season when Verona sensationally won the Serie A. The club had German Hans-Peter Briegel and Danish forward Preben Elkjær in the team and both players really shined and became “icons”. Both of them had just joined with a certain Joe Jordan moving out, so did another star of that era, Wladyslaw Zmuda.
Their manager at the time Osvaldo Bagnoti, did the impossible, and his achievements was phenomenal, but again build on a number of good results in the past, being six the season before and also reaching the final of the Coppa Italia.
To find former British players at Verona is a hard act, but surprisingly besides Rolando Aarons and Joe Jordan, there are a few. Craig Davies a former academy act from Manchester City joined the Italians from Oxford United. Played one game and returned from his Italian adventure after a season, despite being signed for £85.000 and signing a five year deal. The now 34 year old forward is still playing at Mansfield Town after a long journey at many clubs in the lower tiers of the football league.
Scottish U.21 international Liam Henderson is still a Verona player, but the former Celtic player is at the moment loaned out to Empoli. It was a bit of fuzz when he made his debut in Serie A after Verona’s return, joining from Bari in 2018. Henderson also have a past at Hibernian and Norwegian club Rosenborg. Henderson was the first Scottish player to appear in Serie A since 1986, when he started this seasons opener against Bologna.
Luca Toni might be the most famous player at the club in recent years, ending his career at this club scoring 48 goals in 95 league games from 2013 to 2016. Luca Toni played 47 times for Italy scoring 16 goals, from 2004 to 2009.
For a number of years the minor suburb club Chievo grabbed most of the attention in the city, staying up in Serie A on a regular basis, while Verona struggled to gain their presence at the top, but now this has changed a bit again with Chievo returning to Serie B, after last season relegation and Verona again fighting for the pride at the upper shelf of the Serie A table.