Classic Calcio Kits: Parma 2003-04

Worn by: Antonio Benarrivo, Daniele Bonera, Domenico Morfeo, Alberto Gilardino & Marco Marchionni
Season: 2003/04

Parma launched this eye catching kit in the summer of 2003 to celebrate the clubs 90th birthday in December 2003. Once again, the Ducali had their shirts manufactured by American sports giant, Champion. Parma’s iconic blue and yellow hoops also remained, with the hoops being broken by blue panels under each arm. Champion also added a special 90th anniversary emblem to appear on each kit. And of course, no Classic Parma kit during this era would be complete without the Parmalat logo emblazoned on the chest.

This, however, would be the last time we would see the distinctive yellow & blue hoops as Parma’s home kit. During the following season of 2004/05, Parma would revert back to their traditional outfit of a white shirt with a black cross. It would also be the last time we would see the iconic Parmalat logo plastered on the front of the team’s shirts, as Calisto Tanzi’s dairy empire descended into chaos.

On the field, Parma had an impressive campaign, finishing fifth, just one point off the final Champions League spot behind Inter. This was in large part thanks to the form of the prolific Italian youngster, Alberto Gilardino. The 20-year-old forward scored 23 leagues goals (26 in all competitions), form that would eventually catch the attention of Italian Football’s big guns. Off the field, however, the club was in turmoil.

Halfway through the campaign, the company formally known as Parma A.C were declared bankrupt. Calisto Tanzi and his Parmalat empire went under, with Tanzi eventually being charged with financial fraud and money laundering. Parma’s main backers were no more and this spelled the beginning of the end for a side that had become one of Italy’s Seven Sisters and a major force in Europe.

With the club reforming as Parma F.C, they were forced to let their star players go. Inter would snap up Brazilian superstar Adriano, while Parma’s rivals Bologna were only too happy to take Japanese International Hidetoshi Nakata off their hands. The player exodus also included Adrian Mutu, who headed to Chelsea, as well as defender, Matteo Ferrari, and midfielder, Matteo Brighi; both forced to say their goodbyes as Parma began to rebuild.

The most notable departure, however, was Parma’s club captain. It was in this shirt that legend, Antonio Benarrivo, made his final appearance at the Stadio Ennio Tardini after the full back called time on his illustrious career after 13 years with Parma. Having made over 250 appearances for the club, his retirement was a poignant and symbolic indication that the Gialloblu had reached the end of a golden era during which the club conquered the UEFA Cup twice and came within two points of winning a first and historic Scudetto.

Words by Giovanni Dougall: @giovannid86

Giovanni has been part of the @GentlemanUltra team since 2013 and is the creator of @ClassicCalcio and @Solo_Parma. He regularly travels out to Italy to follow his beloved Parma. 

For vintage and match-worn Parma shirts click here