Albeit Parma Calcio is not one of the biggest clubs in Italy, they have known how to be an important team throughout history, winning meaningful things and having some great players wearing their jersey over 100 years of history. They aren’t the same team they were at the beginning of the millennium, but after awful campaigns involving bankruptcy and more, the Crusaders are working to be the dangerous team they once were.
Today we’re going to take a look at some of the players who led this team from being one from the bunch to become a real threat not only for Italian but foreign squads. It’s not a secret that they had the best time of their history during the late 90s and early 2000s, assembling a team with talented players who later went to become legends, but before that Parma had known how to put together good teams during their existence.
Now, we’re going to present you the best lineup of Parma featuring the best assets they had within their ranks. Here is the best starting XI of Parma Calcio in their history.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (1995-2001)
Gianluigi Buffon has been one of the best goalkeepers in the history of the game and the reason we got to see all his talents from an early age was thanks to Parma, who made him play when he was only 17 against the all-powerful AC Milan.
In his debut, Gigi managed to stop the attempts from two of the deadliest strikers in Italian first division history, George Weah and Roberto Baggio. Ever since that day, Buffon became the starting goalie of the team, taking it to win important things, including the famous UEFA Cup they won back in 1999. Right now Buffon is considered a complete legend and a come back to Parma was rumored this summer before the 41-year-old found his way back to Juventus instead.
Left-Back: Antonio Benarrivo (1991-2004)
Benarrivo was one of the most reliable wing-men in Italy back in his day, being a player that could easily play on both flanks of the field, taking his level and his team’s to the next stage. He spent 13 years with Parma, becoming the beloved player he is right now.
A very dynamic player, Benarrivo thrived both with Parma and his national side. Even though he never got to win a Serie A title with the Yellow and Blue, Benarrivo tasted the taste of victory with his club, earning two Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
Center-Back: Fabio Cannavaro (1995-2002)
If you don’t know Fabio Cannavaro, well, let’s take a look at one of the best defenders Italy has had in recent years. This center-back landed from Napoli back in 1995 as one of the most promising footballers in his position, instantly becoming a great agent on Parma’s roster, where he played for seven seasons.
Cannavaro, just like most of the players in this lineup, took the team to have the best period of their history, winning tournaments both in the Boot and overseas. Before he went to become one of the best defenders in the world with Juventus, Real Madrid, and the Italian national side, Cannavaro was doing pretty good things at the Ennio Tardini.
Center-Back: Lorenzo Minotti (1987-1996)
This guy is one of the most beloved players in Parma history thanks to his great performances for the side, leading the team to get the promotion to the Serie A back in 1990. Minotti is one of the favorites footballers that has ever worn a Parma’s jersey.
Even though he faced tough competition in the Italy national team, as he had the incredibly hard job to compete against the one and only Franco Baresi to make it to the team, Minotti did really good things for his club. He was a scorer defender and proved it many times, even in the 1993 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final triumph over Royal Antwerp at Wembley.
Right-Back: Lilliam Thuram (1996-2001)
Lilliam Thuram was one of the best players in his position most of his career, but the beginning of all that was during his days with Parma, when he made himself a known name having joined the Italian side from Monaco.
He spent five seasons at the Ennio Tardini, getting better and better every year, enchanting everybody with his runs through the right flank of the pitch, leaving rivals behind him with his speed and capacity of dribbling. The French defender had marvelous performances with Parma, which made Juventus spend considerable money to get his signature back in 2001.
Right Midfielder: Diego Fuser (1998-2001)
We got to the midfield, and we start with Diego Fuser, a talented midfielder who spent only three years with Parma, but made sure to leave his mark on the club. He previously had played for Milan, Lazio, and Fiorentina, but his level really took off when he went to play with the Crusaders.
In his very first season with the club, Fuser became a key member of the starting XI that took the club to win a Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup double, before lifting the Supercoppa Italiana at the start of the following campaign. Even though his spell was short, nobody can say he didn’t do good things for his side.
Central Midfielder: Dino Baggio (1994-2000)
The story of Dino Baggio going to Parma is interesting since he almost didn’t go to play for the Yellow and Blue in his intent to continue playing with Juventus, but in the end, he made the right decision.
A couple of months after his move to the Tardini, Baggio scored the two goals that Parma needed to defeat Juventus by 2-1 and win the UEFA Cup in 1995. A few years later Parma would do the same and Baggio was also part of that team. He was sold to Lazio in 2000, leaving the club as one of their best players in recent years.
Left Midfielder: Juan Sebastian Veron (1998-1999)
You had to be quite astonishing to make it to the greatest lineup of a team in only one season, and a big example of that is Juan Sebastian Veron. The 1998/99 season was one to remember for both the player and his squad, as they earned one of the biggest prizes any team can aspire to.
Veron was the brain and organizer behind Parma’s great season that saw them getting crowned as UEFA Cup champions for the second time in their history. He also took the team win the Coppa Italia that year, which made Lazio disburse £18.1 million to secure Veron’s signature one year after he joined Parma.
Attacking Midfielder: Gianfranco Zola (1993-1996)
Gianfranco Zola is one of the most important players in Parma history overall after seeing all the great things he did for the club during his time there. Zola was one of the most talented midfielders in Italy and abroad while he was part of the team, taking them to win their first UEFA Cup ever.
It remains unclear why then manager Carlo Ancelotti couldn’t find a good spot for him in the team back in 1996, which led the club to sell Zola to Chelsea, where he would go to become one of the biggest idols of the Blues. Zola left Parma with 51 goals scored.
Striker: Hernan Crespo (1996-2000 & 2010-2012)
Parma had a terrifying attacking duo during their greatest campaign in history, with this Argentinian striker being one of the leaders who took the Italian side to rule the continent with his goals.
Albeit Crespo struggled at the beginning to find his place in the team, the former River Plate player overcame his bad start and became one of the most dangerous strikers in European football. He had two spells with Parma (1996-00 and 2010-12), netting 94 goals for the Crusaders in 201 appearances, ending his career as the leading goalscorer in the club's history.
Striker: Enrico Chiesa (1996-1999)
We said Parma had a duo in our last spot, and this guy is the one who complemented Crespo during his days with the team. Enrico Chiesa wasn’t as famous as the Argentine striker, but he still managed to be a good backup, scoring important goals when his side needed them.
He and his attacking partner scored in the 1999 UEFA Cup final that saw Parma defeating French giants Olympique Marseille by 3-0, displaying a dominance uncommon to see in finals, with Chiesa finishing the tournament as the top scorer with his 8 goals.