Remembering Parma’s Glory Years

In the last 16 of the Coppa Italia, one of the old stalwarts of Italian football nearly shocked the world all over again. Parma, with their iconic 44-year-old keeper Gianluigi Buffon in goal, travelled to the Sani Siro to face reigning champions Inter Milan for a spot in the quarterfinals. Despite oddschecker, which compares football odds and free offers, making the Nerazzuri huge favourites for the contest, the visitors gave the hosts almost more than they could handle. 

Stanko Jurić gave the Gialloblu a shock lead seven minutes before halftime, and it was a lead that they didn’t look like surrendering. That was until the 88th minute when Lautaro Martínez pounced to equalise and send the tie to extra time. Central defender Francesco Acerbi would then score a brilliantly headed winner in the second period of extra time to spare the host’s blushes and ensure that the defence of their crown continues. 

But that got us reminiscing about the Parma of old. And how could we not? Back in the 90s, they created a team that the streets will never forget. 


The Golden 90s 

The small city of Parma, Italy, has a proud footballing history, but it is the period from 1991 to 2004 that will live long in the memories of Parma fans, as a golden era of consistent success in both the domestic league and on the European stage. 

In the 1991/92 season, the Gialloblu won their first-ever trophy when they defeated Juventus to lift the Coppa Italia. The following season saw them lift the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, their first European trophy of the golden era, when they defeated Belgium’s Royal Antwerp in the final. En route to the showpiece, they would defeat some of Europe’s biggest clubs. They beat Sparta Prague in the quarterfinals, before downing Atletico Madrid in the semis. 

In 1994/95, Gianfranco Zola’s goals fired Parma into both the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup finals. On both occasions, they would meet Juventus, and while the Bianconeri would come out on top in the domestic affair, Parma ran out 2-1 winners in the European showdown. 

In 1998-99, Parma would go one better and win the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup for the second time in five years. In the Coppa Italia final, the Gialloblu beat Fiorentina on away goals. In the European showpiece, Hernan Crespo would bag in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium to help his side to a 3-0 victory over Marseille. 

The Parma side of the 90s was blessed with some truly iconic players, with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Faustino Asprilla, Juan Sebastian Veron and Hernan Crespo all featuring for the club during this period. One final trophy would follow in 2002, with the club once again defeating Juventus to lift the Coppa Italia, but it was all downhill from there. 


Liquidation and rebirth 

Sadly, the club’s fortunes began to decline after 2004, and the financial difficulties that had dogged Parma throughout the 90s finally caught up with them in 2015. The club was declared bankrupt and was relegated to the fourth tier of Italian football. 

Thankfully, it was eventually saved after a consortium of local businessmen and investors called “Parma Rescue” stepped in to purchase the club. The consortium was led by Giampietro Manenti, a former owner of the Italian club Chievo Verona. He was joined by Massimo Zorzetto, a local entrepreneur, and other investors from the region. 

The consortium was able to restructure the club’s debt and secure a licence for the 2015–16 season. This meant that Parma could participate in the third tier of Italian football, Serie D. For the 2015–16 season, Parma played their home games at the neutral venue of Reggio Emilia, some 25 miles from the club’s nest in Parma. 

They made a quick return to Serie B, the second tier of Italian football, in 2016. Thanks to their impressive performances, they followed this up with a promotion to Serie A in 2018. Their stint back in the top flight was a short one and relegation would follow, but if they perform to the level they did against Inter in the Coppa Italia, surely a return to Italian football’s most elite dinner table is only just around the corner.

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