June 18 (Reuters) – Two months ago, with his team looking set for relegation to the Italian second division, Crotone coach Davide Nicola promised that he would cycle the 1,300 km to his home town in Turin if they escaped the drop.
Crotone went on to pull off one of the greatest escapes in Serie A history, and on Sunday Nicola fulfilled his promise as he arrived in Turin after nine days of solid pedalling from the southern region of Calabria.
The 44-year-old was greeted by about 300 people as he completed his journey from Crotone in the southern Italian Calabria region to the northern city of Turin.
“Am I tired? I still do not feel any particular pain,” he told reporters. “From tomorrow I will have a better idea and maybe I will feel a bit tired.
“What matters most to me is that my goal has been achieved. I kept the promise and, with the help of many people, we have also attracted the attention of many people to the question of safety on the roads.
“Here in Turin I was greeted with great enthusiasm: I am very excited. “
Crotone, playing in the top flight for the first time last term, looked for much of the season almost certain to be heading back to Serie B.
But, having taken only 14 points from their first 29 games, they found form to win six of their last nine matches and finished on 34 points, two points above the relegation places.
Nicola made his promise after a 2-1 win at Chievo, their first-ever Serie A away win, in early April.
Despite their late surge, Crotone began the final day of the season in the drop zone, but they beat Lazio 3-1 to leapfrog Empoli after the Tuscan side lost at Palermo and were relegated instead.
“It’s been a beautiful journey, a fairytale,” said Nicola. (Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Ken Ferris)
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