Claudio Taffarel signed for Parma after a direct approach in an airport while heading home from Italia 90

Claudio Taffarel Parma
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel was only 24 when he started all four of Brazil's games at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, conceding just two goals during the Selecao's time at the tournament.

A 1-0 defeat to South American rivals Argentina in the last 16 meant they exited Italia 90 early, with Taffarel heading back to his home country where he played for Internacional. 

The trajectory of his career soon changed as he waited to fly home, though, and later that summer he joined Italian side Parma as they prepared for their first season in Serie A in the club's history. As Taffarel describes, the transfer was certainly unexpected.

“The process of my transfer was unbelievable,” Taffarel later revealed to FFT. “The 1990 World Cup was over for Brazil and we were on our way back home, waiting for the flight from Milan Malpensa Airport. 

"A guy approached me and said, ‘Hey, would you like to play in Italy?’ I laughed and said, ‘Well, yes, but how?’ A week later, my phone rang and I was asked, ‘Do you still want to come?’ Parmalat representatives flew to Brazil for negotiations, and I joined Parma.

“When I arrived, though, my new team-mates kept asking for my autograph. I got a bit scared about that – I was thinking, ‘What kind of club have I come to?’ Only one member of the squad had played in Serie A before. We had a clear target in the first season: ‘salvezza’. To avoid relegation.”

They comfortably achieved that target, with Parma finishing sixth in the table and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Taffarel became the first non-Italian goalkeeper to have ever played in the league, too, starting all 34 games that season.

The Brazilian stayed an extra two campaigns at the side based in Emilia-Romagna, winning the Coppa Italia in 1992 and the Cup Winners' Cup in 1993. However, with regulations limiting sides to three non-Italian players, Taffarel largely found himself out of the team, with Faustino Asprilla, Tomas Brolin, and Georges Grün selected to start more often than not.

He left in 1993 for Reggiana, before spells at Atletico Mineiro and Galatasaray followed. In 2001, Taffarel returned to Parma, though, winning the 2002 Coppa Italia before retiring from football aged 37.

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