‘The Blind Venetian’, Massimo Taibi was a brief Man Utd keeper at the turn of the century. In summer of 1999, Schmeichel left for Sporting and reserve keepers Raimond van der Gouw, Mark Bosnich got injured; Sir Alex went into panic mode. The result of this was 4.5 million£ spent and an incoming experienced Italian, Massimo Taibi from Venezia.
Massimo Taibi was a well-known name in Italy before moving to Man United. He had represented AC Milan, Licata, Como as well as Piacenza before moving to Venezia from where his Old Trafford adventure began. He had already racked up 286 appearances in Italy before moving to England.
He seemed to be a very experienced keeper who could manage the reins at Old Trafford till the injured keepers returned. His United debut against Liverpool showed the world, his best as well as his worst. He flapped a free kick which Sam Hyypia scored easily. Yet he made some amazing saves later in the game and contributed heavily to the 3-2 victory. He also won the Man of the Match award for his antics!
He was in competition with Raimond van der Gouw and Mark Bosnich for 2 goalkeeping positions. He never really impressed in training and hence got very few opportunities. Yet he goofed up on more than one occasion and never really impressed.
Perhaps the most striking memory that United fans have of Taibi is probably his help in Matt Le Tissier’s famous goal against Man Utd. He managed to let the ball through his legs when the shot was very feeble and hit from 25 yards out. He was also the keeper when United lost 5-0 to Chelsea in 1999, their first league loss since the 1998-99 season. He made just 4 appearances for United and was shipped out on loan to Reggina in January 2000, where he was a regular.
Return to Italy
After the loan spell ended, Manchester United made it clear that – although Taibi was available for transfer – another loan deal was out of the question, rejecting a bid from Napoli. In July 2000, Taibi was sold to Reggina for 2.5million£. Whilst at Reggina he even scored a goal from a corner in the 89th minute against Udinese to earn his side a valuable point. He spent the next 2 years at Reggina before joining Atlanta in the summer of 2005. He made over 130 appearances for Atlanta before being loaned to Torino, a deal which later became permanent. He played 47 matches for Torino before being released from his contract.
Ascoli was his new destination after leaving Torino and played 49 matches for the Seria B side. In 2009 he announced his retirement from football.
He was never a player of United’s calibre and should consider himself lucky he got to wear the famous red shirt of Manchester!