Parma are back on the up in Italian football after the doom and gloom of bankruptcy and almost extinction.
After their second rebirth as a club in the space of a decade, one of Italy’s most recognised clubs have earned back to back promotions as they climb the league ladder again.
By virtue of the way they’ve bounced back in the face of obscurity, Parma now sit just one division away from a romantic return to Serie A.
But there’s nothing more romantic for football fans than reminding ourselves of just how special they used to be, particularly in the late 1990s.
So, without further ado, here’s just seven reasons why everybody had a soft spot for Parma in the 1998/99 season…
1 Gianluigi Buffon was between the sticks
Despite Manchester City and Ederson’s best efforts this summer, Buffon incredibly remains the most expensive goalkeeper on the planet still when after leaving Parma for Juventus in 2001.
And it was his spell with I Gialloblù before the Old Lady that really underlined his truly unrivalled potential.
Buffon helped Parma to the third best defensive record in Serie A that season – and he was just 21 at the time.
It seems cruel to think that nearly 20 years on he’s still not managed to pocket that elusive Champions League winner’s medal.
2 They became the Cup kings
While Parma’s league finish of fourth was relatively uninspiring on paper, much of their focus was channelled towards the cup competitions – when they used to really matter.
They won both the Coppa Italia by beating a Fiorentina side boasting the likes of Gabriel Batistuta on away goals before scoring 19 times in just six games on their way to UEFA Cup success.
In that European run they became the great entertainers, dispatching Bordeaux in the quarter-finals before a comfortable win over Marseille in the final.
Back in a time when cup competitions were cherished, this unique double was the pinnacle of Parma’s success.
3 Hernan Crespo was the best young goal-grabber on the planet
Crespo and his unforgettable curly locks will long be remembered fondly in both Italian and English football after a brief ‘hair-raising’ spell with Chelsea.
At the time with Parma he was as lethal as they came and would go on to make lucrative moves to both Lazio and Inter Milan during Italy’s finest years of club dominance.
In the 1998/99 season, Crespo bagged 28 times in all competitions – including six times in the UEFA Cup.
4 Their defence boasted two of the hardest men ever to play to the game
If you ask any young or budding defender, they’ll inevitably cite one of Fabio Cannavaro or Lilian Thuram as their role models.
Fortunately for Parma, they could call on the services of both as the no-nonsense duo established a formidable understanding with a young Buffon.
Both would go onto win almost everything on offer for club and country but their success at Parma built all the foundations.
5 Juan Sebastian Veron was good before Manchester United ruined him
Veron was one of the most stylish players of his generation before a move to England ultimately cost him his label of greatness.
Argentina’s answer to Zinedine Zidane, his ability with both feet and vision saw him go for over £60m in the space of two mammoth transfers at the turn of the millennium.
Was still playing until very recently, even returning to the pitch with first club Estudiantes last December at the ripe old age of 41.
6 Dino Baggio epitomised the Italian footballing stereotype
172 Serie A appearances for Parma is not something to be laughed at and Baggio’s ball-winning, consistent displays over seven seasons saw him become one of Italy’s best ever midfielders.
One of the first ever box-to-box prototypes, Baggio’s energy and stamina seemingly made him capable of being in two positions at once.
Baggio was so good at his peak the likes of Antonio Conte, Stefano Fiore, Roberto Mancini, Roberto di Matteo and namesake Roberto (to name but a few) were regularly left on the bench at his expense.
7 Premier League cult hero klaxon
No dreamy iconic team would be held in such high regard without some bizarre characters to add some spice to proceedings.
Former Chelsea showman Mario Stanic – who seemingly only dealt in Goal of the Season contenders – scored seven times for Parma in the 1998/99 season.
And ex-Newcastle nutjob Faustino Asprilla, who now steals dank memes for a living, left England for Parma that season.
Here’s a flavour of what he’s up to now…
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