Giovanni Sartori, Chievo Verona’s sporting director, was a crucial player in the early 2000s miracle that nearly brought Didier Drogba to Romeo and Juliet’s house. After ascending through the lower divisions and reaching Serie A for the first time in their long history, the “flying donkeys” made history in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Remembers 2002.
Francesco Guerrieri of Calciomercato.com and Chievo sporting director Sartori noticed Didier Drogba, a promising but relatively unknown Ivorian striker at Guingamp. Drogba was little known then and only coming up in the football world.
Moreover, he was just a young player who had just started his journey in the footballing world. Although, Drogba showed lots of promise at a young age. At the time, the 24-year-old had only scored three goals in 11 Ligues 1 game, but Sartori was confident in his abilities. Before contacting Guingamp, the Chievo sporting director, he inquired about the Ivorian and his price tag.
The director visited France twice to watch Drogba and spoke with club president Luca Campedelli. The Ligue 1 club covets Drogba for at least €1 million. The amount was huge at the time. Sartori returned to Campedelli and tried to get him to invest, but Chievo missed out on the deal because the numbers were too high then.
After a year, the Ivorian striker joined Olympique Marseille for £3.3 million. He played well for the club for a single season before signing with Chelsea to begin his career. After their promotion, people thought they would immediately fall to Serie B, but they surprised many by remaining in the top division for five seasons. This was a huge achievement for the small club and they had a limited transfer budget as well as limited facilities available at the club.