Former Italian international midfielder Damiano Tommasi has been elected mayor of Verona after heading a centre-left coalition to see off the city’s right-wing incumbent.
Tommasi, who collected 25 caps for his country and won the Serie A title with Roma in 2001, beat Federico Sboarina in Sunday’s run-off to claim a surprise victory in the northern Italian city.
The former Italian footballers’ association president won as an independent candidate against Sboarina, who represented the far-right Brothers of Italy party.
Sboarina suffered from divisions among the right-wing parties and he failed to get support from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.
Tommasi was supported by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and other leftist groups and will now lead a city with a long tradition of right-wing politics.
His victory stood out on a night in which the centre-left also won in other important towns like Parma and Piacenza.
Tommasi, 48, was born near the city and began his playing career at Verona, making it as a professional there in 1993 before being sold to Roma three years later.
He played 351 times over a decade at the capital club, winning their most recent Scudetto as part of a star-studded team which included Francesco Totti and Gabriel Batistuta at the peak of their powers.
Three years later he suffered a serious knee injury in a friendly with English club Stoke City, and in the knowledge that he might never play again he agreed a minimum wage contract with Roma of just 1,470 euros ($1,555) a month.
He later played for Levante and Queens Park Rangers and ended his career for the first time after a spell with Tianjin Teda in China in 2009.
Tommasi headed up the footballers’ association from 2011 to 2020, a role which didn’t stop him coming out of retirement to play for La Fiorita in San Marino between 2015 and 2019.
He is also famous for having a goal controversially disallowed in Italy’s shock golden-goal defeat to South Korea in the last 16 of the 2002 World Cup.