Parma, 15 January 2021 – At 15:00 CET on Sunday 17 January, Sassuolo vs. Parma will be played at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia, adding another chapter to a fixture that first took place half a century ago, when, for various reasons, the Crociati were playing amateur football.

While the Crociati’s first away trip to face the Neroverdi in the autumn of 1968 ended in a narrow 1-0 defeat, the second, which took place in the spring of 1970, went a lot better. It was one of the Crociati’s best moments of the season as they looked to chase down table-toppers Crema.

And that they did: in a season where AC Parmense became Parma AC, promotion to Serie C was achieved two months later in Varedo.

On the way to becoming champions, the away match against Sassuolo took place on Sunday 1 March 1970. It ended up being a particularly memorable encounter: not only did the Crociati record their biggest win on the road that season (3-0), Parma native Ildebrando Bertozzi, otherwise known as Ideo, bagged his one and only goal for a Club whose shirt he wore with great pride.

It’s true that the hard work had already been done before the defender got on the scoresheet: goals from Mario Casini (60′), a midfielder with an eye for goal, and star striker Orazio Rancati (76′) had put Parma in control. But the goal scored by Ideo a minute from the end (89′) truly did send the 4,000 Parma fans at the Stadio Enzo Ricci, Sassuolo’s former home until 2008, wild.

Bertozzi, who, in nullifying the Neroverdi attack, was one of Parma’s best performers that day, went for it, pushed on by our supporters in the stands: in one of our final attacking moves, he found himself in the opposition box.

A ball was then played in, Rancati let it run through his legs and Ideo, without hesitating, fired it beyond Venturelli in the Neroverdi goal. The defender ran towards thousands of white flags with black crosses and celebrated with the Crociati faithful.

The next day, the Gazzetta di Parma, who gave him a perfect score for his display, published the following headline: “Inspired by Rancati and Bertozzi, Parma triumph away to Sassuolo”.

Ildebrando Bertozzi, who went on to be named the ‘hero of Sassuolo’ by the Parma fans, described what happened: “From that cross, Rancati was kind enough to let me shoot because he knew how much I wanted it. I didn’t think twice and hit the ball hard… on the Monday, my father, who worked for Barilla, returned home in an emotional state and I asked why. He told me that Mr Pietro Barilla had stopped him at work to compliment my performance.”

That afternoon, Parma moved to within one point of Crema.

Parma and Sassuolo would go on to meet again during the 2008/09 Serie B season, by which point the Neroverdi were very much in the midst of an upward trajectory.

Due to a lack of sporting rivalry between the two fanbases, and with the teams not having encountered each other all too often in the past, the match isn’t considered a derby.

In the header: Ideo Bertozzi after his goal at the Stadio Enzo Ricci. Bruno Piaser is to his right and Giuseppe Regali to his left.