One of the nice things about a club like Parma Calcio 1913 is that they have a hymn that dates back to their past iterations that is remarkably catchy and worthy of a million replays. This is a recording of that exact hymn from 1970. It’s simply named “Forza Palma.”
A driving force in Italian club football for decades, once upon a time, not too long ago, Parma were forced into the depths of the Italian football league system. Let’s refresh you on this: we covered this team on TST earlier. It seems that in the end, our eye for resurgent brands is paying off. And for the record, my team in Italy is AS Roma and I am fully aware that Juventus‘s anthem is not just the best in the competition, but played so many times that is effectively the de facto anthem of Serie A. But I digress.
Make no mistake about it, Roberto d’Averso’s Parma are good. For a team fresh out of the third division lottery that is Lega Pro, they are really, really good. And their youth system, as seen above, is not too dang shabby either. (Taking notes, LA Galaxy, wink wink?) Speaking of which, let’s take a look at Parma Calcio’s season that was the 2016-17 Lega Pro campaign.
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Promotion, qualification or relegation|
|1||Venezia (C, P)||38||23||11||4||56||29||+27||80||Promotion to Serie B|
|2||Parma (O, P)||38||20||10||8||55||36||+19||70||Qualification to the promotion play-offs|
|16||Teramo (O)||38||9||13||16||39||43||−4||40||Qualification to the relegation play-outs|
|20||Ancona (R)||38||7||11||20||28||47||−19||31||Relegation to Serie D|
As the story goes, Parma were placed in Group B, the North & Central East group, with most sides hailing from Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and the Marche. Parma finished second in the group by 10 points to Venezia S.C., the main team from Venice. As a result, they were forced to go through the playoffs, which go deep into June.
By way of placement, Parma were given a first-round bye and advanced to the second round, where they faced Piacenza, a 2-1 winner over Calcio Como. The first leg ended in a scoreless draw, but Parma got the work done in the second leg, winning 2-0.
In the next round, they faced AS Lucchese Libertas 1905. In their ongoing crusade for promotion, these Crusader put Lucchese to the sword in back-to-back 2-1 home and home victories for as 4-2 aggregate win. In the semifinals, Parma took Pordenone Calcio down in a tense shootout. Finally, in the final, it shut down US Alessandria Calcio 1912 2-0 to secure a place in Serie B.
Out of 30 teams, you knew that Parma was going to be the one chose to move up. It was destiny. It had to be Parma. And the Chinese investors are seeing this and are bringing some massive financial muscle. A man by the name of Jiang Lizhang bought a 60 percent share of the club, and an old face from the past in Hernan Crespo was brought as vice-president of Parma Calcio 1913.
Most of the club remains domestic talent, anchored by captain and defender Alessandro Lucarelli. But other players from other lands are joining the ranks of the Crusaders in their quest for a triumphant return to Serie A, including Latvian goalkeeper Kristaps Zommers, Senegalese defender Mohamed Coly, Senegalese midfielder Yves Baraye and Argentine forward Facundo Lescano, who hails from a unassuming side called Igea Virtus, based in a town in Sicily called Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, which is not to be confused with a similarly named but more famous town in Spain that is the home of RCD Espanyol…and MSN and Friends.
“I sincerely believe that this new partner, surrounded by people who love Parma such as Hernan and supported by the current management, can open up unprecedented growth for our club….and present a great opportunity outside football,” said Parma director Marco Ferrari in a statement. “It is right to be strongly linked to the values of the past, but in a changing world, you should not be too scared of new things.”
And new things involve more money to sell aspiring talent of the vision of a new Parma, a story of redemption that is sure to ensure that there will be no mistakes that doomed its past existence. They are knocking on the door. And they’re ringing on the bell. Watch out for that rising phoenix, Serie B, it’ll be raising some hell. Hell yeah.