Parma, 27 February 2020 – The most iconic league game in Crociati history between Parma Calcio and SPAL (Società Polisportiva Ars et Labor) came at the Stadio Ennio Tardini, as our beloved Massimo Barbuti hit four against the Ferrara side back in 1984, a match we’ve already looked back over with fond memories.

But as we approach the next encounter between these two sides on the pitch, with kick-off coming on Sunday (behind closed doors) for matchday 26 of Serie A TIM, the next emotional memory takes us back another ten years into the history books.

We turn the page to Sunday 24 February of 1974, the 22nd matchday of the return fixtures in Serie B, and our narrow 1-0 win with the stamp of a man who deserved a goal perhaps more than anyone else on the day.

That man was of course Alberto Rizzati, born in Ferrara (right by the central Corso Porta Mare), and a SPAL fan, although he never went on to play for them throughout his career.

He didn’t even play for their youth sides, reporting that the historic Sporting Director Paolo Mazza had said the following to him as a child: “You want to play football with that physique? You’re too skinny.”

“I’ll never forget that conversation with Mazza, which took place when I was just sixteen or seventeen years old. I’ll carry it with me inside. I never spoke to him again. Football was my life,” Rizzati underlined. “I was a SPAL fan. I loved the club. I took my revenge on the pitch with the most lethal weapon any forward could find: goals. I scored more than one against them, both for Atalanta and for Parma.”

And that was exactly what happened for our number 11 on that fine day at the Tardini in February ‘74.

‘Pippo’, as Parma’s fans used to call him, recalled that day fondly, and shared the following anecdote years later: “My aunt and uncle asked me for the shirt I wore that game. They hung it up for a long time in their Bar Montebello in Ferrara. Plenty of people stopped saying hello to them after that.”

In his time at Parma, Alberto Rizzati lived on Viale San Michele, just a stone’s throw from our stadium.

He had two spells at the Club (1972-1974 and 1975-1977), making 130 appearances and becoming a great fan of Parma himself in that time.

With 15 goals, he came in as runner-up for the Serie B Golden Boot in that newly-promoted Parma side, just losing out to Varese’s striker Egidio Calloni (16 goals) as the Crociati finished in fifth at the end of the season.