PARMA PROFILES WORLDWIDE: GINO FROM CANADA

Parma may not be the biggest city, but the club’s fighting spirit and ability to compete against the odds has earned it fans all over the world.

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Each supporter has their own story of how they fell for the Gialloblu, overcoming the distance separating them from the Tardini to support the team all the same.

Gino from Canada is one of these. A trip to Europe provided the perfect opportunity to watch Parma in person. Unfortunately, the dates meant that it would have to be at an away game. Thankfully, our brilliant 3-1 comeback at Genoa meant it was a journey to remember, especially when it was followed up with a trip to see inside the heart of the Stadio Tardini.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you became a Parma fan? 

I am from Toronto, Canada and our city has a massive Italian population. We grew up watching and playing Calcio. A lot of my friends and even brothers liked the typical ‘big’ teams and I didn’t want to be like everyone else. I was too young to understand how special Parma was at that time in the early 90’s but I fell in love with the jersey first! My love for the team was solidified in 1994 when Dino Baggio came to Parma. Dino and Gino rhymed so it was a match made in heaven.

Being a Parma fan has been a very enriching for me. It has taught me about loyalty, perseverance, and it has deepened my belief in destiny.

Who’s your favourite Parma player ever and what is your fondest memory?

IMG_20180923_1205298~2Dino Baggio was my childhood player of choice which later became Gilardino. I still have Gilardino’s poster on my wall in my room.

But my favourite memory was when Parma visited Toronto in 1995. They played an ‘all-star Canadian’ team in the intimate Lamport Stadium and Parma won 5-0! The highlight was a Baggio goal from his own half!

How was your first taste of live Serie A football during our dramatic away win at Genoa? 

The game in Genoa exceeded all my expectations. We haven’t historically played well against Genoa and combine this with the fact we were missing Dimarco, Gervinho, and Inglese, the odds were against us.

It was a very poetic first game for me to go to as the game represented a small sample of our story as Parma. You can never count us out and we never stopped believing. Our comeback win in a hostile environment was an incredibly special memory that I will never forget.

How did the other Parma supporters treat you after learning about your journey from Canada?

The other supporters were so kind to me and my girlfriend. They welcomed us with open arms, gave us scarves and even invited us for over for dinner (grazie Lucrezia).

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I really have to thank Giorgio from Parma Fans Worldwide who helped me get tickets and even joined me in the stands after half time of the Genoa game. He is a great ambassador for the club. My girlfriend and I immediately felt a part of a tight-knit family.

As for your visit to the Stadio Tardini, what was it like to see it in person for the first time and how did you like the city? 

The stadium was very surreal to me. It’s funny when you idolise something so much and have many years to envision what it will look and feel like, it almost becomes a myth – a place so special it doesn’t actually exist. Once I walked into the ground, it was like a movie. It was a theatre of dreams that holds a lifetime worth of stories. It was very nostalgic for me and I still don’t believe that I was actually there.

The city was also beautiful. It is an historic, vibrant and livable city. The energy in the streets and architecture offer great insight as to why Parma is such an influential and important city.

How would you describe the welcome offered from the fan clubs in showing you around the inside of the stadium and fan club?

The fan clubs treated me like one of their own. They made me feel like I belonged there and I was so truly grateful for their kindness and generosity.

They took the time to show me the stadium, the clubhouse, the museum and the store. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me a lifetime worth of memories.

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The most memorable moment of the entire trip? 

It was the feeling I had in my heart while standing in the Parma changing room.

To stand in the same room that champions have battled in, the room where they came together as a team, the same room where they found inspiration in the dark moments and celebrated their greatest achievements – this made me very emotional. There is a special energy in that room – something indescribable.

Can we look forward to seeing you back in the future for a home game at the Tardini?  

I will be back! I miss it already and can’t wait to come back.

In the meantime, the Tardini will always be in my heart…

Forza Parma per sempre.