When New York attorney Joe Tacopina bought down-and-out Italian soccer club Venezia in October 2015 and vowed to get the bankrupt fourth-division side back on its feet, even he could not have imagined the success story they have written.
After winning Serie D last year, Venezia clinched Lega Pro (formerly Serie C) on Saturday, becoming the first team in 56 years to get promoted from Serie D to Serie B in two seasons. Tacopina — who represented former Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, and is the former Bologna president — became the first president in Italian soccer history to win three championships and promotions in a row.
For Tacopina, who turned 51 the day before the title, it was the perfect gift.
“We have a very ambitious, high-reaching plan. It’s a plan that’s based on a sustainable model, the history of the people I’ve brought in. … But even I didn’t think 20 months ago when I started this, we didn’t have a player, we didn’t have an office, we didn’t even have a [new] logo,’’ Tacopina told The Post.
“A lot of people talk [crap] at the beginning when they first take over. But when I came in and said ‘Two years we’ll be in Serie B,’ I didn’t know when I said that the last team that had done it had been 56 years ago. I was undaunted when I said it. That was the command discipline, and we did it. But, yes, it has exceeding my expectations. I knew we had a global brand, by the name of the city, one of most glorious cities in world. But I didn’t realize how much this [would take off].”
Venezia is riding a 15-game league unbeaten streak dating back to Dec. 23. They’re 23-9-3 with three games left for 78 points, 12 more than runner-up Parma, a former Serie A side. Former Mets star Mike Piazza’s Reggiana is in fifth.
“Mike Piazza was the first to send me a congratulatory note. … all class,’’ said Tacopina, who got final approval Tuesday from the municipality for his proposed mainland stadium.
Venezia hosts the home leg of the Coppa Italia Lega Pro final next Wednesday, after dropping the first leg 1-0 at Matera.