What is this?A.S.D. Castel di Sangro Calcio. A club in the heart of the Abruzzo, a mountainous area in Southern Italy. Who are they? I'll tell you. The Miracle of Castel di Sangro. That's what the club is famous for. A tiny town with a population of just 5,000 people. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a smaller village. But in this little community, something astonishing happened. A.S. Castel di Sangro were promoted to Serie B. It had been a long and hard struggle. But they reached the Serie C1 Play-offs, and in the final they faced Ascoli. And the game went to a penalty shoot-out. But just before the referee blew his final whistle, Castel's manager Oswaldo Jaconi made a change. He subbed the goalkeeper, Roberto De Juliis, for a veteran back up keeper, Pietro Spinosa. Fans were scratching their heads. But the bizzare change paid off. Jaconi knew that Spinosa was an expert penalty saver, and so Spinosa would face the Ascoli penalty kicks. And then the Miracle of Castel di Sangro took place. Spinosa dived high to his right. And Ascoli's penalty taker shot high to the keeper's right. And remember, that was where he dived. And that, was where he put his hands in the air and palmed the ball away. He had palmed it away from the goal. Away from the goal! Castel di Sangro Calcio, were on the way to Serie B. Within touching distance of the World's most glamorous league. Soon, they could be lining uo against Baggio and Batistuta.
Alas, hard times have fallen on the once great club. They somehow managed to survive the drop in their first season, beating rivals Pescara 2-1 to seal la salvezza. The eccentric president Gabriele Gravina had attracted some controversy for numerous stunts during the season, and now he was facing more negative attention. Castel were relegated after just 2 years in Serie B, and Gravina was to take the blame having sold 14 players and sacking the wizardous manager Jaconi. Now they reside in the Promozione Abbruzzo, the second tier of regional football. But the fans still remember the miracle. And the best part? So does my dad.