Tanzi, the owner of local dairy giant Parmalat had money to burn (or so we thought), his first move was to bring in Carlo Ancelotti replacing he outgoing Nevio Scala on the Parma bench. Ancelotti was practically handed a blank cheque book and French full back Lilian Thuram arrived to join a defence that already included Fabio Cannavaro and a 17 year old Gianluigi Buffon, as well as Thuram, Ancelotti snapped up South America's hottest young talent in Hernan Crespo but the most notable signing that summer came a little closer to home in the form of Sampdoria forward Enrico Chiesa.
The young forward was the talk of Serie A, having formed a formidable partnership with Roberto Mancini during the 1995/96 season where Chiesa scored 22 goals in 27 Serie A matches. He was even described by Fabio Capello as "The complete forward" and "A cross between Gianni Riva and Paolo Rossi" praise like this really emphasises how good Chiesa was. His blistering pace and thunderbolt of a shot had the Parma faithful dreaming of Scudetto glory when he teamed up with Hernan Crespo for the start of the 1996/97 season.
Ancelotti's reign couldn't have gotten of to a worse start when his side went crashing out of the UEFA Cup, an embarrassing defeat to Portuguese outfit Vitoria de Guimaraes saw Parma exit the competition in the first round. However thing would improve dramatically by the time Serie A got underway.
It took Enrico Chiesa just 22 minutes to open his Parma account, as the new look Parma demolished Luigi Simoni's Napoli 3-0 at the Tardini, Chiesa added to Dino Baggio's 14th minute strike before Gianfranco Zola added a third in the closing minutes. Chiesa would go on to find the net a further 13 times, including important goals in 1-0 win's over Inter and Juventus keeping Parma's Scudetto dream alive. Depite Chiesa's goals, Parma's came up short, finishing just two point behind the Turin giants. Despite the heartbreak, Chiesa had a little silver lining as he finish the clubs top scorer that season.
Parma were expected to kick on and mount another series challenge for the 1997/98 Scudetto however The Ducali finished a disappointing sixth. While Hernan Crespo was scoring for fun, it was a slow start to the season for Chiesa, who had to patiently wait until week six to open his account in the Derby dell'Emilia scoring in a 2-0 victory over Bologna. Once he started there was no looking back as Chiesa once again topped Parma's scoring charts, hitting the net 21 times in all competitions, including five on the road to the Coppa Italia semi final and a memorable hat trick in Poland to fire Parma into the UEFA Champions League group stage, seeing off Widzew Lodz.
1998/99 would see Alberto Malesani come in replacing Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, it would turn out to be arguably the most memorable season in Parma's history, a large part of that was down to the contribution of Enrico Chiesa. Chiesa and Crespo had now formed a formidable partnership, not only striking fear into their Serie A opponents but the rest of Europe was fearful too whenever these two came to town. Much like the season before it took Chiesa until round five before he would find the net, this time in a comfortable 2-0 home win over Salernitana, Chiesa would only score nine Serie A goal in Malesani's debut season however in Europe he just couldn't stop. His vital goal in Krakow earned Parma a crucial 1-1 draw to take back to the Tardini, where Parma narrowly came through 3-2 on aggregate setting up a third round tie with Glasgow Rangers. After a tough 1-1 draw in Glasgow, Chiesa put the tie out of sight at the Tardini as he scored the third to make it 3-1 (4-2 on aggregate). After demolishing Bordeaux 7-2 in the Quarter Final, Chiesa came into his own as Parma saw off Spanish giants Atletico Madrid, Chiesa scored twice in Madrid securing a 3-1 win for Malesani's men before finding the net once again at the Tardini putting Parma through 5-2 over the two legs.
With his tally at seven in Europe for the season, his eighth is one he'll remember forever as Parma travelled to Moscow to face Marseille, Hernan Crespo and Paolo Vanoli put Parma on easy street early on before Chiesa put the cherry on the cake with a sublime third, Juan Sebastian Veron put in a delightful cross, such was the understanding between Crespo and Chiesa, Crespo let the ball run though his legs knowing his strike partner would be there behind him ready to smash the ball high into the roof of the net, a goal that would see Chiesa claim the tournaments top scorer award as well as securing Parma's 1998/99 UEFA Cup victory adding to the Coppa Italia already won that season.
That would be the last we would see Chiesa in a Parma shirt as Fiorentina splashed out 14 million Euro's in the summer of 1999 to take him to Tuscany. I think I speak for the majority of Parma fans when I say grazie Enrico, thanks for the memories.
By Giovanni Dougall
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