Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, commonly known as just Atalanta, Atalanta Bergamo or the abbreviation Atalanta BC, is an Italian football club based in Bergamo, Lombardy. The club currently plays in Serie A, having gained the promotion from Serie B in 2010–11.
They are nicknamed the Nerazzurri and the Orobici. Atalanta play in blue-and-black vertically striped shirts, black shorts and black socks. The club stadium is the 26,638 seater Atleti Azzurri d'Italia.
In Italy, Atalanta is sometimes called Regina delle provinciali (queen of the provincial clubs) to mark the fact that the club is historically one of the most consistent among the non-metropolitan ones, having played 53 times in Serie A (11th overall for number of participations in the top division), 28 times in Serie B and only once in Serie C1.
The club won the Coppa Italia in 1963 and reached the Cup Winners' Cup Semifinal in 1988, when it was still competing in Serie B. This is still the best ever performance by a non-first division club in a major UEFA competition (together with Cardiff City). Atalanta also participated twice in the UEFA Cup, reaching the quarterfinals in 1990–91.
The club was founded in 1907. A football club had existed in Bergamo since 1904. Founded by wealthy Swiss immigrants, it was known as FC Bergamo. The rival Atalanta club grew out of a division between different sporting societies in the town. The name is taken from the female athlete of Greek mythology. The FIGC was unimpressed with the new club and did not officially recognize them until 1914. The current club is the result of a merger between Atalanta and a third team called Bergamasca. The first, black and white coloured and the second wearing a blue and white shirt, merged in 1924 as Atalanta Bergamasca di Ginnastica e Scherma 1907. The team moved to the site of the current ground, on the Viale Giulio Cesare, in 1928.23
Atalanta joined the Italian league in 1929. The club first reached Serie A in 1937, but was relegated immediately. The club returned in 1940 and remained in Serie A until 1959; after a single season in Serie B, the club was promoted and lasted a further decade in Serie A before relegation in 1973 led to an uncertain period of promotion and relegation between the two levels.
The club achieved its highest position in 1948, finishing in fifth place. In 1981, the club fell into Serie C1, a blow which revitalised the club. The team returned to Serie B the next season and made it back to Serie A in 1984. The club's form in Serie A remains uncertain, as it was relegated in 1987, 1994, 1998, 2003, 2005, and 2010. After a change of ownership, in 2011, Atalanta immediately came back to Serie A, where it has been ever since.
In terms of titles the club has won little, their sole silverware is the 1963 Coppa Italia. The club has had a few good runs in Europe, on several occasions being eliminated by the eventual winners.
Welsh club Merthyr Tydfil caused an upset in the 1987–88 European Cup Winners' Cup, beating Atalanta 2–1 in the first leg of their first round match at Penydarren Park. After winning the second leg 2–0 in Bergamo, Atalanta went on to reach the semi-finals, losing to eventual winners Mechelen of Belgium, but in the process becoming one of only two teams in the competition's history to reach the penultimate round while playing their football outside of the national top flight league. Oddly enough, the only other team to do so being Merthyr Tydfil's countrymen at Cardiff City.
Atalanta reached the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in the 1990–91 season, losing to local rivals Internazionale, who went on to beat another Italian side, Roma, in the final to win the tournament. The club never played European club competitions after 1991, although turned down the opportunity to play Intertoto in 2001 after reaching the 7th place in Serie A, regional rivals of Brescia played the tournament instead, losing only in the final against French side Paris Saint Germain.
In recent years the club was relegated in 2002–03, 2004–05, 2009–10, but gained the promotion to Serie A after only one season every time. In 2011–12 Atalanta was deducted 6 points in the league table due to the outcomes of the Italian Football Scandal, nevertheless the club managed to secure another year in Serie A by gaining 52 points in 38 games (which is the club record, to date). The following year, for the same reasons the club was deducted 2 points in the league but avoided relegation reaching the 15th spot in the final table.
Further proof of the club's youth credential comes in the form of Gianpaolo Bellini. The defender came through the team's youth system, making his first team debut in Serie B on 11 April 1999 and has been with the club ever since, rising to become a regular first team choice and is now the current first team captain.
Atalanta have had several presidents over the course of their history. Some of them have been the main shareholder of the club, while others have been honorary presidents. The past president is Ivan Ruggeri, who was relieved of his duties after he suffered a stroke in January 2008, being replaced by his son Alessandro that was named President of Atalanta in September 2008. Alessandro's father is unable to manage the team due to the consequences of the stroke. In June 2010, after another relegation in Serie B, Alessandro Ruggeri sold his share of Atalanta to Antonio Percassi, who became the new President of Atalanta.
Atalanta's supporters are considered very loyal. When Atalanta plays at the Atleti Azzurri d'Italia, the supporters in the Curva Nord (North Curve) encourage the team with their chants during the entire match.