If you’ve never heard of them before, Brescia Calcio are an Italian side that have been floating between Serie A and Serie B for a number of years.

What might jog your memory though is the incredible list of players that used to don the blue and white strip from back in the day. None of those are more iconic than Andrea Pirlo.

Brescia have won Serie B three times, finished runners’ up four times and just gained promotion to Serie A on four occasions. Their longest spell in Serie A was from 2000 to 2005, a run they haven’t been able to replicate since, with just one season in the Italian top flight in total from that point.

The Little Swallows have certainly seen some incredible players ply their trade at the Stadio Mario Rigamonti over the years, and they may finally have found the heir to Pirlo’s throne, in Sandro Tonali – the prodigiously talented teenage regista.

But Pirlo isn’t the only incredible footballer to have had a stop in their career at Brescia though. There’s some seriously good players here that you might not have realised played for the Italian club at one stage or another.

Gheorghe Hagi

Appearances: 61
International caps: 125

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Nicknamed the ‘Maradonna of the Carpathians’ and regarded as one of the best footballers of his generation, the seven-time Romanian Player of the Year winner spent 1994-2001 between Barcelona and then Galatasaray.

Retiring at the turn of the century, Hagi has focused on a managing career at Romania, Galatasaray and, most recently, Viitorul.

Pep Guardiola

Appearances: 24
International caps: 47

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No, really. The Manchester City boss was once a player at Brescia Calcio, not once but twice. Despite his multiple spells, he only made a string of appearances for the club, retiring from his playing career altogether just three years later.

His most notable club is Barcelona by far, making 263 appearances between 1990 and 2001, and then returning to manage the Catalans in 2008.

Roberto Baggio

Appearances: 95
International caps: 56

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Italian attacking midfielder Roberto Baggio’s Brescia spell was the final stop on his playing career, retiring at the end of the 2004 season.

During his spell at the Italian side, Brescia stayed in Serie A and were never relegated, with Baggio their current fourth highest all-time top scorer and top scorer in Serie A. Oh, and he’s the recipient of a Ballon d’Or. Not bad at all.

Luca Toni

Appearances: 44
International caps: 47

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Undoubtedly not a one-club player, having appeared at some 17 clubs before retiring in 2016, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Toni made an appearance here during his career.

Brescia was one of his longest spells, playing alongside Baggio during their triumphant Serie A run. He’s scored over 300 goals in his career, 15 of which came at Brescia.

Marek Hamsik

Appearances: 65
International caps: 111

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Arguably the club where he made it, Marek Hamsik’s three season spell at Brescia saw him bought by Napoli, where he’s stayed ever since. During his first season at Brescia as a 17-year-old debutant, Hamsik netted 10 times from just 40 appearances.

Another attacking midfielder, he’s been voted as Slovakia’s Footballer of the Year a staggering seven times.

Stephen Appiah

Appearances: 31
International caps: 67

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A loan move to Brescia for a single season, the Ghanian made 31 appearances for the Italian side, scoring seven goals and doing enough to impress Juventus. After two seasons in the top flight, Appiah moved between Fenerbahce, Bologna and Cesena before retiring from football in 2012.

Marco Delvecchio

Appearances: 5
International caps: 22

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If you remembered this one, serious brownie points. Delvecchio made just five appearances for Brescia in 2005, failing to score and moving away from the club the following season. Having spent 10 years at Roma and making 269 appearances for them, subsequent appearances for other clubs were dwarfed.

Andrea Pirlo

Appearances: 57
International caps: 116

Andrea Pirlo

The man himself, Pirlo has been at Brescia twice in his playing career; at the very start and then again on loan. His most successful club is of course AC Milan, with 284 appearances, but he managed four Serie A titles with Juventus before hanging up his boots in 2017 after a stint with New York City.

He won the Serie B title while at Brescia in 1996/97, but his list of other titles are far too long to reel off here. Italy’s fourth-most capped player of all-time and a whole load of incredible free-kicks sum up a seriously illustrious playing career.

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