For Serie A fans, Parma really pull at the heartstrings.
Their torrid financial disrepute in the mid 00s threatened to tarnish everything the club had built toward the end of the 20th century.
But they’re back where they belong this season – and not going about it quietly.
On Saturday the Gialloblù clinched a remarkable 3-3 draw at runaway league leaders Juventus to spoil Cristiano Ronaldo’s party.
And the party pooper? Gervinho, of course.
“Everyone thought I went to China to retire and get paid,” he told The Guardian back in November.
That was the general consensus.
Not many footballers, maybe Axel Witsel aside, come back from China a better player, but Gervinho has been a standout star for Parma this season as they punch above their weight.
The much-maligned Ivorian has eight goals in 14 appearances since his move from Hebei China Fortune.
Parma are his ninth career club and he’s arguably having the best time of his life.
Those days when Arsenal fans ridiculed him incessantly seem like a long time ago now, proving himself consistently in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
And while they’re still quite some distance away from the pomp of Gigi Buffon, Hidetoshi Nakata, Hernan Crespo and co, Parma are producing seismic performances.
Any other side might have capitulated against an all-conquering unbeaten Juve, especially at 3-1 down, but Parma rallied and snatched a dramatic late point.
They’re now 11 points clear of the relegation zone and looking in the other direction instead, with just six points separating them from AC Milan in fourth.
After everything they’ve been through, are the glory days coming back?
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