Parma, 12 February 2021 – Out of all the Serie A fixtures we’ve played against Hellas Verona at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi, there’s one match that stands out in particular: a victory on 1 June 1997, when our team qualified for the Champions League for the very first time.

In addition to that truly historic moment, Parma have beaten Verona on just two other occasions in their own backyard. One of these victories came in the 1960s.

The other, which we are looking back to today as we prepare for our next match at 20:45 CET on Monday 15 February (matchday 22 in Serie A), took place 20 years ago, on Sunday 28 January 2001.

It was the penultimate game of Arrigo Sacchi’s very brief return (he’d only arrived 20 days earlier following Alberto Malesani’s departure) to our dugout and his glittering career as a coach.

After the Verona game, Arrigo took charge of the Crociati for their midweek first-leg clash against Udinese at the semi-final stage of the Coppa Italia. He then resigned due to a stress overload that he could no
longer bear, with Renzo Ulivieri coming in to replace him.

That day at the Bentegodi, he took charge of a team in the Italian top flight for the final time. Against Verona, Parma won thanks to a brace from Marco Di Vaio.

Our striker gave us the lead after 37 minutes, finding the net following a
corner taken by Diego Fuser. Verona goalkeeper Domenico Doardo, who had come on to replace the injured Fabrizio Ferron, wasn’t able to hold Stefano Torrisi’s header, and Di Vaio was left with the easy task of tapping the ball home.

The same player then made it 2-0 with 58 minutes on the clock. After Verona full-back Anthony Seric had failed to stop him with a sliding tackle, Di Vaio fired the ball past Doardo with aplomb.

The home side were then awarded a penalty with just under 20 minutes to go, but Adrian Mutu faile

d to beat Gianluigi Buffon from twelve yards out, sending the ball off target. The spot-kick had been awarded by referee Stefano Cassarà after a coming together between the Romanian and our midfielder Alain Boghossian in the box.

The hosts continued to push forward until the end but weren’t able to finish off the chances they created.

Parma would go on to finish fourth that season, thus qualifying for the Champions League for the second time in their history.

Header: Di Vaio celebrating after scoring. Photos: Sacchi; Fuser in action; Crociati striker Savo Milosevic; Di Vaio’s joy after making it 2-0; Boghossian controlling the midfield. Below: the Parma fans at the stadium.