Twenty years ago the city of Parma was famous for more than its prosciutto ham. It was home to the most promising football team in the world, in a league that was certainly the greatest at the time.
However, this once great team has had a rapid decline. Parma’s attempts to finance a revival have even resulted in the auctioning of the club’s greatest trophies. Like much of the city of Parma, its football team will become a memory of ancient times. Parma have enjoyed their fair share of glory, but their footballing legacy is somewhat unfulfilled.
The Crusaders, as they are known, are in need of a new leader to propel their charge from the fourth tier of Italian football. Parma finished the 2014 season in 6th position, in a league bursting with rivalry from top to bottom. It is plain to see that Parma do not belong in Serie D, and their golden generation of the 90s are living proof of this.
Parma were twice winners of the UEFA cup, in 1995 and 1999, and finished runners up to Juventus in Serie A in 1997. The Yellow and Blues also enjoyed success in the Italian Cup during that period, and subsequently won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1993.
At the helm of this success were players like Gianfranco Zola, Fabio Cannavaro and Parma’s all time top goal scorer Hernan Crespo.
Italian opposition was the most feared in Europe in the 90s, and Parma was one of the best Italy had to offer. Backed by a reckless spender, Parma made an unexpected rise to the top, by signing the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron and Lillian Thuram and many more.
After two bad ownerships and one relegation since their glory days, Parma now find themselves demoted to Serie D due to liquidation. If only Parma’s golden generation could revive the club financially off the pitch, in a similar way to the Class of 92 and their ownership of Salford City.
Regular viewers of Football Italia will be familiar with Parma and their yellow and blue strip, which, for Parma’s Argentinean contingent, evokes memories of Buenos Aires outfit Boca Juniors. This quaint town has Latin American flair, and it once had a small pocket of South America’s greatest players.
A modern day comparison could be Atletico Madrid; a team that despite the constant recycling of their players, still manage to sustain success in domestic and European football.
English football has had one or two fallen giants in recent years, Leeds United were enjoying a similar amount of success to Parma during the 90s, and could boast of an even richer history before that. Portsmouth is perhaps the most sorry decline, however, given their rapid descent through the divisions of English football.
Nonetheless, Parma were next inline to the Italian footballing throne. Maybe they have been a victim of the gradual decline of Serie A over the years? However, unlike Leeds United and Portsmouth respectively, Parma were an emerging team, making history season after season.
For now Parma will remain a flash in the pan, a temporary world-beater during the better years of Italian football, and a team that produced some of the best players the world has ever seen.