On a Saturday at SPAL’s Stadio Paolo Mazza in Ferrara, a crowd of 14,000 fans gathered. As Francesco Totti stepped onto the field, the chant of “Il Capitano” echoed not only among Roma supporters but also from fans representing various clubs across Italy. On the opposing side, Alessandro del Piero, fondly known as “Alex,” led the team adorned in vintage jerseys.
This moment marked the latest milestone in the journey of Operazione Nostalgia. Originating as a Facebook page eight years ago, it aimed to celebrate the glory days of Italian football. Over time, it garnered a passionate following, culminating in a match between Serie A legends from the 1990s and 2000s.
The two teams were captained by Totti and Del Piero, revered figures from that era and World Cup winners. Damiano Tommasi, who won the Scudetto alongside Totti at Roma and currently serves as the mayor of Verona, expressed the significance of the event, stating, “For us, it is a special occasion. We revisit our past and reunite with old friends. It’s remarkable to see fans wearing different jerseys sitting together in the stands.”
The brainchild of Andrea Bini and Luca Valentino, Operazione Nostalgia began as a nostalgic conversation on social media about the beloved Serie A stars of their youth. With Italian football experiencing a lull, their initiative struck a chord with those yearning for the halcyon days of calcio. Within six months, they amassed over 50,000 followers.
Motivated by this response, Bini and Valentino organized a gathering near Milan’s Duomo. They invited four former footballers to attend, with the only requirement being that fans wear their favorite retro jerseys. The event turned out to be a resounding success, attracting five hundred people and causing the square to be flooded with attendees.
From there, Operazione Nostalgia gained momentum, transforming the founders’ passion into a full-time endeavor. The following year, in Ostia near Rome, 2,000 people and 40 ex-footballers participated, including former Brazil and Roma defender Aldair.
In 2018, Parma requested a match against an Operazione Nostalgia Stars team, pitting cult heroes like Dario Hubner and Javier Chevanton against star-studded opponents such as Hernan Crespo and Juan Sebastian Veron.
Part of the allure lies in what Valentino describes as “province idols,” players like Hubner who made their Serie A debuts later in their careers but left an indelible mark. These players evoke memories and emotions, bringing to the forefront the positive values often overshadowed in modern football.
Bini and Valentino believed their venture had reached its pinnacle at Parma’s iconic Tardini stadium. However, the following summer, Operazione Nostalgia’s finest players faced off against a La Liga Legends XI.
The Italians, including Del Piero, were delighted by the chants of rival fans embracing them. The event continued to thrive until the COVID-19 pandemic forced the community back online. After a four-year hiatus, Operazione Nostalgia finally made an emotional return in Ferrara.
On that Saturday morning, the city buzzed with the team colors of thousands of early-arriving supporters, all eager to join the fan village. Fans donning vintage jerseys from Juventus, Milan, Inter, Roma, Parma, Fiorentina, Sampdoria, and more engaged in three-a-side games. Some enjoyed table football and video consoles, while others perused retro shirt stalls and met their idols