MILAN (AP) Parma has earned promotion to Serie A just three years after being declared bankrupt, becoming the first Italian club to earn three successive promotions.
Parma’s 2-0 win at Spezia on Friday saw it finish second in Serie B, after Frosinone conceded a late goal to draw 2-2 at home to Foggia. They finished level on points but Parma clinched second courtesy of a better head-to-head record.
Alessandro Lucarelli was Parma’s captain when it was declared bankrupt in 2015. Even though he had to start again from Serie D, he remained with the club.
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”It can’t be true, it’s not possible, I can’t believe it,” Lucarelli said on Italian television, his voice cracking with emotion. ”We have done something incredible in these past three years. Something out of this world. No one could have imagined a finale like this. I’m dying, I can’t anymore. It’s more than a dream.”
The veteran defender also credited the loyal supporters of Parma – which was once among Serie A’s best teams and twice won the UEFA Cup in the 1990s.
”This promotion is a great prize for our fans who together with us never gave up,” Lucarelli said. ”I am proud to be their captain. Now I can even retire.”
Lucarelli turns 41 in July and is likely to take up a position on Parma’s staff.
Empoli had already earned promotion as Serie B winner, dominating the league by finishing 13 points clear. The other automatic spot was up for grabs with Frosinone second going into the final round, with two points more than Parma and three more than Palermo.
Parma won with goals from Fabio Ceravolo and Amato Ciciretti, while veteran former Italy striker Alberto Gilardino missed a penalty for Spezia.
Foggia led at Frosinone, but Luca Paganini’s header and a Matteo Rubin own goal had the hosts heading for Serie A until Roberto Floriano’s last-minute equalizer.
Frosinone goes to the two-legged playoff semifinals, where it will play either Bari or Cittadella. They face each other in the first leg on May 26.
Palermo will play the winner of Venezia vs. Perugia.
Venezia and Perugia are coached by former Italy teammates Filippo Inzaghi and Alessandro Nesta, respectively. They won the World Cup in 2006, along with Fabio Grosso – Italy’s goal-scoring semifinal hero against Germany in that tournament – who coaches Bari.
Frosinone’s matches will be on May 29 and June 2, while Palermo’s will be on the following days.