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A promotion seen from the sidelines

'Melior de Cinere Surgo', Catania's return to the professional ranks

A promotion seen from the sidelines 'Melior de Cinere Surgo', Catania's return to the professional ranks

The writing on the inside of the shirts made for this season by Erreà reads: 'Melior de Cinere Surgo' (I rise from the ashes) and like phoenixes yesterday the Rossoazzurri were reborn, officially returning to the professional ranks. Seventeen years after the last promotion, even at the time the move was to Serie A, and an endless bureaucratic process following the club's bankruptcy, which took place on 22 December 2021, Catania and its city are back to celebrate. Yesterday, in fact, with the 1-4 victory on the Canicattì pitch, the Rossoazzurri put an end to the championship with six days in advance, thanks to the 22-point advantage over the second in the standings. A championship won deservedly and in fluency with a team that grinded out points, both at home and away, becoming the team to beat. An epilogue not so predictable given that the Sicilian team was built in a hurry by the management, due to the late admission to the championship. Delay, however, did not affect the performance of the team, which quickly forgot its stormy past and was able to rebuild its superiority as the numbers prove.

In fact, Catania's attack is currently the most prolific with 63 goals, and at the same time it can also count on the best defence, a battleship that has upset the mechanisms of Serie D, recording 24 victories with six days to go. Impressive numbers that have obviously generated uncontainable enthusiasm, starting with the season tickets and ending with the average attendance at the stadium of 15,000 per game. And even yesterday the public responded, even though they were playing away from home, the stadium was completely coloured red and blue, with around 4,000 fans who made a real rush for tickets during the week, so as not to miss an undoubtedly historic appointment.

And the match started immediately downhill, with Catania displaying an eagerness and desire to win that was palpable even from the sidelines. Everything started well, it was Catania who unblocked the scoring with Sarao, literally making all the fans present explode. Catania, however, fell victim to its own enthusiasm and after less than ten minutes was caught up by the visiting team with a penalty kick after a lightning fast counter-attack. The match at that point became inflamed, nervousness took over, but Catania had a mission to accomplish, something they did not want to let slip by any means. And so after a first half of missed chances, the second marked the absolute domination of the visiting team that scored three goals, thanks also to the changes that came from the bench.

At the goal of 1-3 the party can finally begin, Pelligra, current president of Catania, celebrates despite the time difference from the pub where he follows all the matches when he is not in town, the players begin to dance and jump with the fans. The opponents, by now mentally terrified, are no longer able to restart, closed in their own half of the field they can do nothing but suffer the sorties of the two wings that undermine every corner and free space of the playing rectangle. At the goal of 1-4 is now official, the players on the bench begin to change their shirts wearing celebratory ones, the referee will not even give the minutes of recovery, by now the match is closed and Catania dribbles in the midfield looking for the goleada.

Photographers and reporters, such as Sky and Dazn, who had come from all over Italy to document the Sicilian club's return to the Lega Pro, began to gather quickly before the final whistle to document all the euphoria of the players. And at the final whistle the celebration can finally begin, the players hurl balls into the corners, Francesco Lodi, the historic captain of the Catania formation, bursts into tears, remembering that crossbar hit several years ago in the playoffs against Siena that ended Catania's chances of reaching Serie B. And while the nightmare can be said to be definitively over, the fans, tired of remaining in the stands, manage to enter the field, invading the pitch and stretching out on the synthetic turf of Caltanissetta where one of the first pages of the new club's history has been written.

But the party did not end there, the players after celebrating in the locker room returned to the pitch, after all the fans slowly returned to their seats, to dance and sing under the curve. A tribute to those who have followed Catania all season, never leaving the team alone. The time to go back in and change and Catania set off again to return to the city, where many fans took to the streets to celebrate the long-awaited goal. The Rossoazzurra team arrives on an open-top bus, where the players can finally enjoy the joy and chants of the fans for a party that will go on until late into the night, ending with a private dinner in a club in the city. After the penalty points, a bankruptcy, the failed negotiations, the heartbreak for that historic freshman lost, Catania regains the place it deserves under the motto "Melior de cinere surgo", a perfect phrase that encapsulates the dark years and officially marks a long-awaited rebirth.