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SPAL next manager after Leonardo Semplici

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Who is SPAL manager Leonardo Semplici?

Born in Florence in 1967, Leonardo Semplici is one of the longest-serving managers taking charge of a team in Serie A this season having been in charge of SPAL for half a decade since the year 2014.

Unusually for a manager, Semplici's experience as a professional footballer is limited; he played for 16 years but never to a particularly high standard. This factor has not had a negative impact on his career as a coach, however, which has so far been very impressive.

From 1987 to 1988, Semplici played for his local club, Lucchese. However, at just 20 years old he was not considered good enough to make the grade with the team and was released after less than a year with the club as a professional. In total, he made one solitary league appearance for the club.

He decided to take a step down and move to a club lower in the footballing pyramid in Italy in the hope that regular football would both cause his passion for the game to be reunited and in order to be seen by a scout who might have been sent to observe amateur games in the lower divisions. He joined Sorso in 1988 where he stayed for a season, appearing 33 times and scoring two goals from midfield. His rationale proved successful and he was indeed scouted by staff from Cecina, a semi-pro club, in 1989.

For Cecina, Semplici was not a 'first name on the team sheet' kind of player but got enough football experience to improve his game. He played 19 times and scored one goal in his season with the club.

Horrible injuries had begun to blight his career by this stage, however, causing him to miss many games. The persistence of these setbacks was so severe that in 1990 he retired from football. However, remarkably after a nine-year absence, Semplici returned to the sport to play for amateur side Sangimigano. He made a handful of appearances for the club but was unable to seal a first-team place due to the sporadic nature of his selection in the starting eleven.

At the start of the new millennium he moved on again He joined Poggibonsi where he would enjoy the last regular football of his career, making 32 league starts and scoring two league goals. In 2002, after two seasons with Poggibonsi, he joined Grosseto. This was the club where he would eventually say goodbye to the playing side of the game after just eight appearances.

While his playing career was frustrating, his managerial one has been anything but. Semplici has gradually risen through the divisions with various clubs and now finds himself in charge of Serie A club for the first time. It is his first taste of the top-flight in his capacity as a player or a manager.

His journey started at Sangimigano, the club where he had also been a player. He took the club from the amateur leagues all the way to Serie D, the fourth division in Italian football. Following this incredibly successful season, he joined Figline where he spent four years in total. With the club, he managed to reach the third division for the first time before leaving in 2009 to join one of the many clubs who had been chasing his signature, Arezzo.

His time with the club was brief however and after less than a year in charge, he joined Pisa. Again, this spell was short however and eventually, Semplici decided to change career direction and accept an offer to become a youth coach with Fiorentina. After three years in this position, he joined SPAL, where he remains to this day. He started with the club in Serie C and has since achieved two subsequent promotions - a magnificent achievement. He is adored by the fans at the club. Having secured safety in the division last terms, Semplici will take charge of SPAL once again in 2019/2020.