The Ginnastica Sampierdarenese was founded in 1891, opening its football section in 1899. Named to honour Andrea Doria, a club named Society Andrea Doria was founded in 1895, which increasingly focused itself on football training and competition.
Andrea Doria: early league participation
Andrea Doria did not participate in the first which was organised by the since instead they had enrolled themselves into a football tournament which was organised by the Italian Federation of Ginnastica. The club eventually joined the competition for the , but did not win a game in the tournament until 1907, when they beat local rivals Genoa 3–1.
It was not until that the club began to show promise. During that season's tournament, they finished above Juventus, Internazionale and Genoa in the Piedmont-Lombardy-Liguria section.
Early photograph of Andrea Doria
Post-World War I
After World War I Sampierdarenese finally began to compete in the Italian Championship, after they bought a pre-war club of Genoa province: Pro Liguria of Bolzaneto. Thus, Samp and Doria met in the championship for the first time; Doria won in first-leg game (4–1 and 1–1), and they also arrived at second place after Genoa in the Ligurian Championship, qualifying for the National Round.
With the 1921–22 season, the Italian top league was split into two competitions; both of the clubs in Sampdoria's history were in separate competitions that year too. Sampierdarenese played in the -run competition, whereas Andrea Doria played in the CCI variation.
Sampierdarenese won the Ligura section and then went on to the semi-finals, finishing top out of three clubs; this lead them to the final against Novese. Both legs of the final ended in 0–0 draws, thus a repetition match was played in Cremona on 21 May 1922. Still intensely difficult to separate, the match went into extra time with Novese eventually winning the tie (and the Championship) 2–1.
After the league system in Italy was brought back into one item, Sampierdarenese remained stronger than Andrea Doria by qualifying for the league. By 1924–25, the clubs were competing against each other in the Northern League; Doria who finished one place above their rivals and won one match 2–1, while Sampierdarenese were victorious 2–0 in the other. At the end of the 1926–27 season, the clubs merged by fascist authorities under the name La Dominante.
La Dominante Genova split: 1930s
Wearing green and black striped shirts, La Dominante Genova were admitted to the first ever season of Serie B, where they finished third, just missing out on promotion. The next season, under the name Liguria, they had a disastrous year, finishing bottom of the table and suffering relegation.
Because of this, both Sampierdarenese and Andrea Doria reverted to their previous names as separate clubs. Sampierdarenese were back in Serie B for the 1932–33 season and finished in the upper part. The following year, they were crowned champions and were promoted into Serie A for the first time. Andrea Doria, on the other hand, battled out the 1930s down in Serie C.
15 July 1937 saw Sampierdarenese merging with Corniglianese and Rivarolese, with the club using the name Associazione Liguria Calcio. This saw them reach fifth place in Serie A in 1939. In the early 1940s, the club was relegated but bounced straight back up as Serie B champions in 1941.
Sampdoria in the late 1940s
After World War II, both clubs were competing in Serie A, but in a reverse of pre-war situations, Andrea Doria were now the top club out of the two. However, on 12 August 1946, a merger occurred to create Unione Calcio Sampdoria. The first chairman of this new club was Piero Sanguineti, but the ambitious entrepreneur Amedeo Rissotto soon replaced him, while the first team coach during this period was a man from Florence named Giuseppe Galluzzi. To illustrate the clubs would be equally represented in the new, merged club, a new kit was designed featuring the blue shirts of Andrea Doria and the white, red and black midsection of Sampierdarenese. In the same month of the merger, the new club demanded they should share the Stadio Luigi Ferraris ground with Genoa. An agreement was reached, and the stadium began hosting Genoa's and Sampdoria's home matches.
European and domestic successes
In 1979, the club, then playing Serie B, was acquired by oil businessman Paolo Mantovani (1930–1993), who invested in the team to bring Sampdoria to the top flights. In 1982, Sampdoria made their Serie A return and won their first Coppa Italia in 1985. In 1986, Vujadin Boškov was appointed as the new head coach. The club won their second Coppa Italia in 1988, being admitted to the 1988–89 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, where they reached the final, losing 2–0 to Barcelona. A second consecutive triumph in the Coppa Italia gave Sampdoria a spot in the 1989–90 Cup Winners' Cup, which they won after defeating Anderlecht after in the final. This was followed only one year later by their first (and, as of the 2017–18 season, only) Scudetto, being crowned as Serie A champions with a five-point advantage over second-placed Internazionale. The winning team featured several notable players, such as Gianluca Pagliuca, Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Mancini, Toninho Cerezo, Pietro Vierchowod and Attilio Lombardo, with Boškov as head coach. In the following season, Sampdoria reached the European Cup final and were defeated once again by Barcelona, at Wembley Stadium.
Since this period, Sampdoria have made a limited number of appearances in European cup competitions. During the 1994–95 campaign, they reached the semi-finals of the 1994–95 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup before being eliminated on penalties in a memorable tie against Arsenal. The club also participated in the 1997–98 UEFA Cup but were eliminated by Athletic Bilbao in the first round. The 2005–06 season also proved to be a significant one, with Sampdoria returning to European competition for the first time since their promotion back to Serie A, with the club narrowly missing out on UEFA Champions League qualification, instead entering the UEFA Cup. During this campaign, the team was minutes away from qualification to the round of 32 when Lens eliminated them following a 2–1 defeat. The club also took part in the 2007–08 UEFA Cup, entering via the UEFA Intertoto Cup. However, it was a short and disappointing campaign, with Sampdoria being eliminated on the away goals rule by Aalborg BK in the first round. Participation in recent seasons in the UEFA Europa League was marked by several defeats by Metalist Kharkiv and lack of consistent play.
Decline and resurgence
On 14 October 1993, Paolo Mantovani died suddenly and was replaced by his son Enrico. During Enrico Mantovani's first season (1993–94), Sampdoria won one more Coppa Italia and placed third in Serie A. During the following four seasons, many players from his father's tenure left the club but many important acquisitions were made which kept Sampdoria in the top tier Serie A. This included the likes of Enrico Chiesa; Argentine internationals Juan Sebastián Verón and Ariel Ortega; loan signing Vincenzo Montella; and international midfielders Clarence Seedorf and Christian Karembeu.
Despite this, in May 1999 Sampdoria were relegated from Serie A and did not return to the top flight until 2002. Around this time, Sampdoria was acquired by Riccardo Garrone, an Italian oil businessman. Two of Garrone's most important initial moves were to inject new cash into the club and to appoint Walter Novellino as head coach. Sampdoria returned to Serie A in 2003 led by talisman Francesco Flachi, and ended their first season in eighth place. In the 2004–05 Serie A, they lost a spot in the UEFA Champions League to Udinese in the final matchdays of the season, ending in fifth place. This was followed by a poor season. Notwithstanding, Novellino was confirmed for one more season and Sampdoria ended the 2006–07 Serie A campaign in ninth place. As the eighth-placed team in Serie A were not granted a UEFA licence, Sampdoria was able to enter the 2007 UEFA Intertoto Cup as a result. Novellino announced his farewell to Sampdoria soon after, with Walter Mazzarri unveiled shortly after as his replacement.
The 2007–08 campaign started very early for Sampdoria due to qualifying rounds. They defeated Cherno More Varna in the Intertoto Cup and Hajduk Split in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Cup, before themselves being eliminated in the first round proper by Aalborg BK on away goals. The club took actively part in the transfer market, persuading Vincenzo Montella to make a comeback at Samp and signing Antonio Cassano from Real Madrid on loan; Cassano, having had such a successful loan period, was signed permanently for the 2008–09 campaign. During the winter transfer window, Giampaolo Pazzini was signed and formed one of Serie A's most effective strike partnerships with Cassano. Sampdoria ended the season in sixth position in Serie A and qualified for the 2008–09 UEFA Cup. The following season, they qualified for the UEFA Champions League play-offs.
With the departure of CEO Giuseppe Marotta, head coach Luigi Delneri, both of whom were credited with Samp's recent successes, as well as the loss of top scorers Cassano and Pazzini, and the squad being stretched by Champions League football, Sampdoria embarked on a miserable run of results and were relegated to Serie B after loss 2–1 at home to Palermo in May 2011.
However, in the following season, Sampdoria won the playoffs after defeating Varese 1–0 in the final return of the play-off after the 3–2 of the first round and return to Serie A. They were the first club outside of the third place to win the play-off, as well as the first sixth-placed club to do so. In the club's first few seasons back in Serie A, the side achieved consecutive mid-table finishes but continued its reputation of producing quality young players and subsequently selling them for significant transfer fees, including Shkodran Mustafi, Mauro Icardi, Andrea Poli and Simone Zaza.
After sixth-placed Genoa in the 2014–15 season failed to obtain a UEFA license for the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League season, seventh-placed Sampdoria took their spot.