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Parma: The Success, Rise & Demise of the ’90s Surprise Package

Conor Kelly from The Final Third Football Podcast takes a look at the rise, and subsequent demise of the great Parma team in the 1990s.

Anyone else remember the great Parma team of the 1990′s? A side bristling with talent, that were bankrolled by Calisto Tanzi and won 8 major trophies between 1992 and 2002. The era of success started with Nevio Scala, peaked with the Coppa Italia and Uefa Cup double in 1999, and ended in insolvency. The team was built on false money, but what a team it was while it lasted.

It can be argued that the team peaked in the Uefa Cup final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, with a 3-0 win over Marseille. They were a team showered with class in almost every position. Gianluigi Buffon was in the early infancy of his career. Lilian Thuram, Roberto Sensini and Fabio Cannavaro were part of a back four that had 374 international caps between them and two World Cup medals between them. Dino Baggio and Juan Sebastián Verón made up a strong midfield, Verón at the peak of his powers.

The dynamic Enrico Chiesa was paired with Hernán Crespo, who was at his prolific best during his first spell with ‘I Gialloblu’. Chiesa, Crespo and Paolo Vanoli scored the goals for Alberto Malesani’s men. Chiesa’s goal was the highlight of the victory over the French side. Lilian Thuram, playing in an advanced right back position, put in Verón down the Marseille left. The Argentine midfielder delivered a cross towards his compatriot Crespo. Crespo dummied the whipped delivery for Chiesa, who sweetly struck home a right footed half-volley. One of the great final goals.

The dominant victory over a ‘L’OM’ side that included Laurent Blanc and Robert Pirès would be the beginning of the end. Crespo and Chiesa, who both scored in Russia that night, would both leave in the summer. Chiesa joined Fiorentina and Crespo moved to Rome to join Lazio for a then world record transfer of £35 million. Verón joined him at ‘Biancocelesti’, and both won the Scudetto and Coppa Italia double with Sven-Göran Eriksson’s side in 1999-2000. Crespo would eventually return to Parma in 2010 and he finished his career with the yellow and blues in 2012.

Buffon joined Juventus in 2001, for a world record fee for a goalkeeper of €51 million. He has become one of ‘the old lady’s’ great players, making over 400 appearances and 126 for Italy. Thuram also joined Juve in 2001 and spent five years in Turin, before finishing his career with Barcelona. Cannavaro was part of Parma’s last success in the 2002 Coppa Italia victory over Juve. He joined Inter Milan for €23 million and had spells with Juve, Real Madrid and Al-Alhi before retiring. He won the FIFA World Player of The Year in 2006 after captaining Italy to an unlikely World Cup triumph.

Parma’s success, of course, was built on false money. Owner Calisto Tanzi’s company Parmalat collapsed with a €14 billion hole in its accounts, still the biggest bankruptcy in the history of Europe. Tanzi was later found guilty of fraud and corruption for embezzling around €800 million. Parma were declared insolvent in 2004 and one of the great Italian clubs seemed likely to be instinct. They were reformed as Parma Football Club in the summer of 2004 and they took their place in Serie A the following season. Tommaso Ghirardi bought the club in 2007 and steered them away from administration.

The financial crisis eventually caught up with them. They were relegated to Serie B in 2008, ending 19 years in the top flight. Francesco Guidolin’s took the reigns and his tenure was marked with promotion back to Serie A in 2009 and near European qualification before leaving for Udinese in 2010. They were threatened by relegation again in the following seasons, but happily things have improved in the last two seasons. Milan legend Roberto Donadoni took charge and ‘I Gialloblu’ finished 8th last year and are 10th this year. Isak Belfodil is an exciting prospect. The Algerian striker has 7 goals in 16 games in Serie A this season. The main question will be can they hold onto their talented youngsters. Donadoni seems to have brought stability to Parma, but can he bring them back to Europe? Time will tell, but it is hard to forget the magical side of the 90′s.

Sport Is Everything. Conor Kelly (The Final Third).

Author: The PA Team

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