Parma, 28 September 2018Parma are set to face Empoli at 18:00 CEST on Sunday. One of the players to represent both clubs in recent years is Vincenzo Grella and he’s the focus of this Old Flame piece as a historic Parma and Empoli player.

Of Italian heritage like his good friend and fellow former Parma player Mark Bresciano, the two played and grew up together in Australia, moving between Springvale, Canberra and Carlton before moving to Italy and Empoli. Grella made his Serie A debut at the age of 19 in the 1998/99 season at the Stadio Delle Alpi in a goalless draw with Juventus. He didn’t get much more playing time over the course of the season and he was loaned to Ternana in the following year where he made 27 appearances. Grella then returned to Empoli and earned a more important role in the team. Before his move to Parma in 2004, he made a total of 88 appearances for Empoli, scoring one goal. 

Grella made 23 appearances in his first year at Parma, 35 in the 2005/6 season and 26 in the 2006/7 season. He became a key figure in midfield and also captained the side. Despite not being a prolific goalscorer, he took the responsibility of taking penalties when needed such as during the 3-1 home win against Atalanta in the 2006/7 season. Overall, he made 84 appearances and scored two for the Crociati.

In 2007, he moved to Torino on a free transfer, playing 28 times and scoring once for the Granata. England was his next stop with Blackburn Rovers but he struggled with injuries, making only 38 appearances between 2008 and 2012. After his time in England, he returned to train with Empoli before heading home to Australia and Melbourne Heart.

For the Socceroos, Grella played in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2006 World Cup in Germany.