Giulia Rocchi hails the Bergamasco spirit – and the watchful eye of a goddess – as Atalanta lit up the darkest of times during the Covid pandemic
“Bergamo is Atalanta and Atalanta is Bergamo.” This isn’t just one of the most popular chants sung at the stadium, it’s proof that Atalanta isn’t just a team, but the definition of our cultural identity. Atalanta’s players can’t just play. They have to work hard like their fans and leave the pitch with their jersey drenched with sweat. In every town around the world people say, “We’re going to the stadium”; Bergamaschi say, “We’re going to Atalanta.” This is because a team named after a Goddess needs a temple and needs to be worshipped.
“Dea” (goddess) is Atalanta’s nickname, and as we all know, the gods represent our last hope in times of darkness. Our Dea was there during the Covid-19 pandemic, bestowing a fairytale upon us that had the Champions League anthem as the soundtrack. So, can you imagine what it meant for us to return to the Champions League this season and to think about playing Liverpool?
Their story is similar to ours; their stadium, Anfield, is a footballing temple; their fans sing, “You’ll never walk alone.” After they beat us 5-0 in Bergamo we were scared to play them again. But Atalanta is not about giving up; it’s not about calling yourself a loser or going down without a fight. In this spirit, we left for Liverpool.
During the worst phase of the pandemic, Bergamaschi drew inspiration from the words “Mola mia” (Don’t give up). It was an expression that Josip Iličić made his own. After suffering from Covid-19 and depression, he returned to score his first goal at Anfield. Then it was Robin Gosens’s turn, a midfielder with the passion for goals, to seal the win.
There are two lessons you are taught as a child in Bergamo: the first is never give up, even when everything seems lost and you can only see the dark. The second, is that if you are passionate about something and you work hard, you can be whatever you want, regardless of what labels people try to pin on you. Unfortunately, we couldn’t be in Liverpool to sing and cheer for our team, but I’m sure that in every house in Bergamo someone was happy and for the first time in months, our night was lit up as bright as it’s ever been.