Alessandro Lucarelli: The Parma captain who stored the membership going
4 years in the past, Alessandro Lucarelli was shopping for medical provides, bottles of water and ensuring the laundry payments have been paid on time at Parma.
However he wasn’t the equipment man, membership physician or a passionate volunteer – he was the workforce captain.
The membership had debt of greater than 200m euros (£179m), 1 / 4 of which was unpaid wages. It was a narrative with the inevitable ending of extinction.
“Throughout that season I wasn’t only a participant. I needed to symbolize the membership off the pitch as nicely with the town establishments,” Lucarelli instructed the BBC’s World Football programme, referring to common deputations to the courts on behalf of the failing membership.
“The issue wasn’t the dearth of cash for the gamers, however the unpaid wages for the workers – in addition they had households.
“Once we knew that Parma wasn’t going to be saved, the gamers acquired some cash from the Italian league. However we requested that the cash can be used to pay the wages of the membership’s workers as an alternative.”
In addition to retaining the membership operational and taking care of the workplace workers, Lucarelli additionally needed to maintain his gamers motivated.
“We nonetheless needed to play each Sunday. So earlier than each sport, I stated: ‘OK, let’s get on the pitch and play for everyone.’ All we needed was to finish the season and be saved.”
Parma loved 10 years of success on the finish of the 20th Century through the top of Serie A’s reputation, profitable eight trophies between 1992 and 2002.
They have been runners-up in Serie A in 1997 and received the Uefa Cup in 1995 and 1999, in addition to the 1993 Cup Winners’ Cup and three Coppa Italias.
Their workforce boasted the skills of Italy internationals Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon, in addition to Colombia ahead Faustino Asprilla, Argentina striker Hernan Crespo, Bulgaria nice Hristo Stoichkov and France defender Lilian Thuram.
The pitches on the coaching floor have been parched and naked as a result of there was no groundsman. The cellphone strains had been lower due to unpaid payments and there was hardly a stick of furnishings left.
“When Parma needed to face chapter, it was the worst day not just for the membership, but in addition for me,” stated Lucarelli.
“I made a decision to belong to this membership 10 years in the past and it is an enormous a part of me and an enormous a part of my life.
“I used to be the captain and I made a decision to remain because the captain to assist the brand new membership restart from the fourth tier – and now right here we’re.”
So Lucarelli, who had simply spent a season marking the likes of Luca Toni, Mauro Icardi and Gonzalo Higuain, needed to alter to life within the fourth tier of Italian soccer.
“I found regional soccer, and I had enjoyable,” he stated.
“All our opponents tried their finest in opposition to us and I noticed different followers in different cities for whom it was like a giant event, a giant occasion.
Certainly one of Parma’s journeys was to Borgo San Lorenzo, an space of Florence. “Earlier than the match there was a tractor present on the pitch. It was very peculiar,” stated Lucarelli.
One other away sport was performed on a pitch with wonky strains and through a match in Chioggia, close to Venice, a clearance took the ball into the ocean and a person with a ship needed to exit and get it again.
In the long run, defender Lucarelli performed on till a couple of weeks earlier than his 41st birthday, solely retiring in Could 2018 as soon as he had guided Parma by way of their return to Serie A, which concerned a file three successive promotions.
And on Saturday Parma will host Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus at their well-known previous Tardini stadium – a gathering that was past contemplation for Lucarelli in 2015.
“Are you loopy? I may by no means think about that Parma would return to Serie A in three years,” he stated.
And whereas some on the membership are hoping for harm limitation in opposition to the workforce who’ve received the previous seven Serie A titles, Lucarelli has a captain’s message.
“In fact will probably be a tough match, however 4 years in the past in our earlier Serie A season, we beat Juventus 1-Zero at Tardini – so the whole lot is feasible.”
And nowhere is the doable extra evident than within the membership that Lucarelli has helped to rebuild.