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How Sassuolo went from Italy’s fourth tier to the Europa League in a decade

Sassuolo have spent most of their history playing in amateur leagues but after a dramatic rise they are now beating some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs

By Karan Tejwani for These Football Times, part of the Guardian Sport Network

On 15 September 2016, the small town of Sassuolo in the north west of Italy geared up for something special. With a population of 41,000, the town in the Province of Modena is not accustomed to major sporting events. But last month they welcomed Athletic Bilbao to the Stadio Città del Tricolore for Sassuolo’s first ever European outing – something the town could never have imagined a decade ago.

The story of the club’s transformation will make you believe in miracles. They were playing in the fourth tier of Italian football in 2006 with little or no ambition of making it this far, this quickly. But on that fine evening last month, reality hit and the 7,000 fans who gathered in the stadium created an atmosphere that will not be forgotten in a hurry. As the town mayor Claudio Pistoni put it: “The image that Sassuolo Calcio is giving to the town is huge. It is a matter of pride for all, even for those who do not love football.”

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