Crotone left shocked following sudden departure of Davide Nicolaby Chloe Beresford / 07 December 2017, 09:31Tweet
It was one of the fairytale stories of last season. Crotone were in the Italian flight for the very first time in their history and had unsurprisingly spent the entire season in the bottom three. By the start of April, Davide Nicola’s side had scored just 14 points but he managed to galvanise the team, gathering incredible momentum from that time onwards.
They would go on to score an astonishing 17 points from a possible 24 through the final rounds of the campaign, form that was only bettered by Roma and Napoli in that period.Yet going into the last game of the season they still hadn’t managed to pull clear of the relegation zone, and it would go right to the wire.
The fight to remain in the division was between Crotone and Empoli, with the former having the much tougher fixture away to Lazio. But their Tuscan adversaries fell to a surprise defeat at already-relegated Palermo, and Nicola masterminded a stunning win. By the final whistle the Southern side had spent just the last fifteen minutes of that match in a position of safety, the only time they had been out of the bottom three all season.
As Nicola’s players threw him into the air, he was no doubt thinking that he would have to make good on the promise he made back when salvation seemed so unlikely. It involved a gruelling 800 mile cycle ride from Crotone to Turin should they stay up, an undertaking that aimed to raise awareness of road safety and held special significance for the boss. Back in 2014, his 14-year-old son Alessandro died following a tragic road accident, when run over and killed by the rear wheel of a bus near to the family home in Vigone, Piedmont.
Davide Nicola's 14 year old son passed away & Davide wrote this letter to him after saving Crotone from relegation.— ItalianFootballTV (@IFTVofficial) May 31, 2017
Tears & goosebumps pic.twitter.com/W0d5dj1fuv
“I promised I’d ride my bicycle from Crotone to Turin. It’ll feel like a breeze after this,” said Nicola to Sky Italia after their most unlikely survival feat.
“For one reason or another, sometimes it all clicks into place. They might have considered me mad when I continued to believe in our chances, but I always said we had quality. The players followed me, they believed, showed great enthusiasm and that is how we reached this point.”
However this season, Nicola’s fairytale has turned into a nightmare and the 44-year-old announced that he had quit his role in charge of the club on Wednesday morning. Although just two points from the relegation zone, the team’s fortunes are significantly better than last season, leaving observers puzzled as to why he would quit at this point in time.
“It’s all true, I’ve made my decision and I’m not going back on it,” the boss told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“When I say something, I don’t beat around the bush. I think you know me well enough by now, you know how I am: I’m straight with my work and the decisions I make. It’s my own decision and I’m not going to go into it.”
The club are yet to make an official announcement on the boss’ decision but - after he saved the side in such dramatic fashion last term - further details regarding what went on behind the scenes are bound to be yet to emerge. What is for certain though, is that Crotone must find a new boss sooner rather than later, or Nicola’s superb work could all be undone by the end of 2017/18.
Davide Nicola has surprisingly left his post at Serie A side Crotone.— The Sack Race (@thesackrace) December 6, 2017
The boss memorably cycled km from Crotone to Turin after saving the club from relegation...!#Crotone #SerieA pic.twitter.com/GdKAyFDV0A