Tuesday August 1 2017
Parma history being made

Parma are back in the second tier of Italian football after bankruptcy and now writing new pages of history, explains George Rinaldi.

“This team deserves even more – Serie A,” said Parma Coach Roberto D’Aversa following promotion to Serie B. “Usually it is said that the Coach leads the team to promotion, but in this case it is the opposite and the players brought me.”

Promotion was no fluke. Three Coaches, chopped and changed, whilst President Nevio Scala stepped down following disputes. It wasn’t easy. When is promotion ever easy?

The opening round was a dud, 0-0 to Modena, as was Week 3 away to Santarcangelo. Venezia’s midweek visit reiterated Lega Pro would not be a walk in the park. Leading 1-0 thanks to Felice Evacuo’s early penalty, the eventual champions netted twice – in the 89th and 91st minute. From an unbeaten Serie D season – 94 incredible points notched – Parma were 10th and far from their best.

But this is not a story about overcoming obstacles. This football club has achieved greatness in yesteryear – three-time Coppa Italia and double UEFA Cup winners. The 1990s was their time – but it was ‘that’ Parma’s time.

Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon, Hernan Crespo, Lilian Thuram. Names that make the little kid inside of every Italian football fan in the nineties do a mini-somersault. The 1990s Parma was a joy, though that is exactly where those memories should stay. The story being written is a new beginning. The 2015 Parma that started from nothing. Those named were the pinnacle of a 20-year building process from the seventies, not the starting point of their accomplishments.

Enter Parma of today – this is their time. D’Aversa was one of those pioneers. Suave, rugged, something a bit ‘Javier Bardem’ about him, took the reins before Christmas. An early present for Parmensi to unwrap like giggling schoolgirls. The Gialloblu hadn’t enjoyed the perfect start to third tier football – 25 out of a possible 45 points saw them eighth in the league - before the 41-year-old was pacing the touchline.

The beginning of an incredible upsurge was upon Parma. On just four occasions they would leave the pitch with tails between their legs and no points. Second place and a spot in the play-offs was secured, especially thanks to the goals of a 35-year-old. A man who may be known best for his goals with Napoli and Siena, but last season wrote himself into the history of not only a 103-year-old club, but the rebirthed two-year-old club too. A man who goes by the name of Emanuele Calaiò.

“I cried with joy when we were promoted to Serie B,” confessed Calaiò. “It was a very long championship and there was a fear of not [achieving] it. The tension transformed to joy and we managed to get to Serie B.”

Calaiò played the most minutes in his entire career – 3,550 – starting 39 matches out of his 42 appearances. Ageless. His goal-scoring record was that of his 21-year-old self, just three-short of his 2003-04 tally when featuring for Pescara in Serie B. One man does not make a team, however.

Kudos to Alessandro Lucarelli, captain of a club he has been at since 2008. A scorer in all eight playable seasons, he told Radio Anch’io in 2015 he would play for Parma in Serie D if necessary. It was, and he did.

At 40 years of age, Lucarelli confessed he would’ve retired had the club remained in Lega Pro. Video of his locker room speech before the Playoff Final victory over Alessandria went viral, like a real life version of Any Given Sunday. He has forever earned his place in the Parma pantheon, every bit as much as Cannavaro, Thuram or Crespo. This was a side rebuilt from Serie D in his image.

Parma are now a second-tier club, but their story is only just beginning. It is not about replicating or reproducing success from 20 years ago, but to make their own.

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Have your say...
Rosario: it wasn't a clear-cut case of the club overspending, they were bankrolled by Parmalat which went bankrupt and investigators found that they had cooked the books to hide their financial losses. Parmalat is now owned by a French company so rest assured they won't be backing the new Parma.
on the 2nd August, 2017 at 5:47pm
They didn't deserve Serie B this year - the refereeing in the Lega Pro playoff final was scandalous, among other mistakes Pordenone was denied two clear penalties, particularly at the very end of extra time when their striker was taken out by the Parma goalkeeper in a one-on-one. I have nothing against Parma, and while it's good for Italian soccer to have them back in Serie B, they were gifted promotion by a totally incompetent referee. Extended highlights are on YouTube if you don't believe me.
on the 2nd August, 2017 at 5:42pm
I'll always have a soft spot for em. They were so good n easy on the eye back in day. I remember Melli,Grun,Brolin, Asprilla n when they won the cup winners cup at Wembley. They should've won Serie A with the players they could boast but make no mistake this was n awesome side. They won everything but n they were different. The fans were passionate without being fanatical.
Yes this is a new chapter but if they can adapt n find the right backing then they can b healthy n compete in Serie A again!
on the 2nd August, 2017 at 8:07am
Happy to see Parma climbing the table once more. I would appreciate them in Serie A because as the writer noted, Parma were a mainstay in the 90s and 2000s.

They had some brilliant teams and formed the big 7 in Italy (since replaced by Napoli who were anonymous during that time).

If for no reason other than nostalgia, I look forward to seeing them in Serie A for 2018/2019 (hopefully).
on the 1st August, 2017 at 5:54pm
@forza Juve! Have some respect. This is a post regarding Parma. Try and keep to the topic.
on the 1st August, 2017 at 3:47pm
Spot on Rosario.
on the 1st August, 2017 at 2:32pm
I didn't realize that in the 90's Parma accomplished more than Inter !!
on the 1st August, 2017 at 1:44pm
It is hard to recreate the factors which lead to parma success in the 90s. Parmalat was absolutely key in financing the club allowing them to buy some of the best players in football. In addition Italian academies aren't producing the quantity of quality players that it used to in the 90s. Traditionally they were a small club the local town population is just under 200000 the majority of their success came with parmalat. Still would be nice to see them back in serie a
on the 1st August, 2017 at 12:15pm
The 'Non Siamo Mica Gli Americani - Parma Calcio 1913' Parma facebook page has been great in keeping us informed with highlights of matches whilst making their way back to to Serie B. But whilst there is relief and excitement, it is important to remember that Parma has been founded and refounded 6 times since 1913. Parma is effectively a small-medium size club. Whenever it has punched above its weight, it has done so thru uncontrolled spending that has ultimately cost the catastrophically.
on the 1st August, 2017 at 10:43am

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