Ex-Man United player who flopped under Ferguson looks unrecognisable

Former Man United transfer flop looks unrecognisable… 24 years on from producing one of the Premier League’s biggest howlers

  • A former Man United player has gone viral after recent pictures of him emerged
  • The 53-year-old – a sporting director working in Italy – now looks unrecognisable 
  • Trent and Bellingham can play together but can’t get in each other’s way – IAKO

A picture of a former Manchester United player has gone viral as he looks unrecognisable from his days spent at Old Trafford.

The player, who joined United in the summer after their Treble success in 1999 for £4.5million, most recently worked as a sporting director for Italian side Reggina. 

He joined to fill the void left by Peter Schmeichel but returned to Italy the following year having only played four games for the team. 

His name became synonymous with an infamous howler for Man United against Southampton.

The mystery United man is, of course, former goalkeeper Massimo Taibi. 

The ex-Manchester United goalkeeper looks unrecognisable – 23 years since he left the club

The Italian flopped during his brief time under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson

The mystery man is Massimo Taibi, who made just four appearances for the Red Devils

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Taibi’s floppy brown hair is now shaved short and grey while his 6ft 3in frame has broadened since his playing days.

The Italian started well enough at Old Trafford after his move from Venezia, picking up Man of the Match for his performance in a 3-2 win over Liverpool.

A 1-1 draw with Wimbledon followed but it was his infamous error in a 3-3 draw with Southampton which ultimately led to his swift exit from the club. 

A tame effort from Matt Le Tissier from outside the box went straight at the Italian who dropped to the ground to scoop the ball in both hands, only for it to roll underneath his body and trickle over the line. 

As reported in 2020, Taibi recalling the moment said: ‘It was just one of those things which happen to goalkeepers. I’ve seen plenty in England and Italy, believe me. Going through the legs, it looks ridiculous, but it happens often. It’s not the first, it wasn’t the last. 

‘I had a similar incident like that at Torino. It happens. It’s an accident, not an error. An error is to come out for the ball and miss it but an innocuous shot which goes through your legs is just a total accident.

‘Unfortunately, the week after, we went to Chelsea and lost 5-0 and as I couldn’t play in the Champions League having already been registered with Milan, Ferguson decided, rightly, to sit me out for a little, to give me time to learn the language.’

One English newspaper cruelly labelled him as ‘The Blind Venetian’ and he left during the January transfer window for Reggina for £2.5m. 

Taibi (top row second from right) was most synonymous for a mistake he made against Southampton


Despite the error, he had a 22-year career in football starting in 1987 at Licata, playing for the likes of AC Milan, Como, Atalanta and Torino before retiring in 2009 after two years at Ascoli. 

He recently worked as sporting director back with former side Reggina.

In the 2022-23 season, under the guidance of manager Filippo Inzaghi, they finished in a play-off position despite suffering a five-point deduction for failing to pay taxes and player salaries on time. 

But in July, they were excluded from Serie B for financial irregularities and unpaid debts, as per Football Italia. 

The club were enrolled in Serie D for the 2023-24 season, going under the new name of Reggio Calabria. 

 Taibi left his role as sporting director and was replaced by Maurizio Pellegrino.


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