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An aesthetic history of Massimo Taibi

The iconic style of the goalkeeper who set new aesthetic standards for goalkeepers

An aesthetic history of Massimo Taibi The iconic style of the goalkeeper who set new aesthetic standards for goalkeepers

On September 25th 1999 at Old Trafford, Manchester United leads 2-1 on Southampton, thanks to Sheringam and York that overturned Marian Pahars first goal of the game. At 51’ Matt Le Tissier takes the ball 30 metres from the goal and kicks half-heartedly against Massimo Taibi. The italian goalkeeper earned Alex Ferguson’s call thanks a great second part of 1998/1999 season with Venezia Jersey and, two weeks before, was named man of the match against Liverpool, with two great saves on Smicer and Fowler. Le Tissier’s shoot, weak, central and predictable, shouldn’t be a problem: instead, in mysterious way, the ball enter the goal shocking teammates, fans and opponents. Taibi, wearing fluo yellow jersey, looks at the sole of his Uhlsport shoe before getting up, almost searching for an ecuse to his mistake: it’s the sad finale of a story started with others premises.

From that moment in fact the situation gradually gets worse. Taibi will play just another game with Red Devils - the tragic 5-0 loss against Chelsea in Stamford Bridge next week - before leaving the squad spot to Bosnich. In January, because some familiar problem - revealed just ten years later in this interview with - Taibi returns in Italy, at Reggina, becoming the second goalkeeper scoring a goal in a Serie A match, nine years after Michelangelo Rampulla and sixteen before Alberto Brignoli. It happens april 1st 2001, at Granillo Stadium, two minutes from the end of Reggina-Udinese: corner kick by Mamede, Taibi breaks into penalty area and equalizes with the header.

It’s the defining moment of Taibi’s third phase of career. He becomes not only a reliable goalkeeper with Atalanta, Torino ad Ascoli, but also an ambassador of goalkeeper’s aesthetic. First of all the jersey: often wider than necessary, better with collar highlighted, and always long-sleeved. Then the pants: if with Piacenza and Milan Taibi complied the tradition about shorts (altough tighter than normal), during his hal-season in Venice we have the step to sweatpants with knee-lenght socks. That “pijama effect” made famous by hungarian goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. At the end most important detail: the snapback. A Captain Tsubasa’s legacy or a necessity during sunny days? No matter: that accessory so much 90’s becomes Taibi’s trademark and the trademark of every small-town goalkeeper, without showing the sponsorship logo. 

This connection between tradition and innovation characterizes Taibi also today as Reggina’s sports director, italian Serie B’s most aesthetic hyped team that is building it’s rise to Serie A on cult players like Denis, Lafferty, Menez and Mastour. As goalkeeper Taibi signed Alessandro Plizzari, born on March 12 in 2000. That day, a sunday, at Granillo was played another Reggina-Udinese game: in goal, just returned from his Premier League’s experience, Massimo Taibi: “When I left United, I went Reggina where I was really happy. They really looked after me and treated me”, said recently days ago to   

Probably the Reggina (and Taibi) of today, were born in that days.