It has been 24 years since Massimo Taibi was ruthlessly axed from the Manchester United starting XI by Sir Alex Ferguson after making one catastrophic error.

Following an injury to Mark Bosnich in August 1999, United signed Taibi from Venezia for £4.5million. He made his debut against Liverpool, and despite making a mistake in the build-up to Sami Hyypia's equaliser, Taibi later made some excellent saves. The Red Devils won the game 3-2 with Taibi winning the Man of the Match award.

Taibi shared the goalkeeping responsibilities with Raimond Van der Gouw, who started the Champions League matches, even after Bosnich's recovery from injury. However, that all changed when Taibi dropped a clanger during a league game against Southampton in September 1999.

The Italian let Matt Le Tissier's weak shot go underneath his body and trickle in the back of the net. The match ended up finishing 3-3, with Teddy Sheringham scoring once and Dwight Yorke striking twice for United on the day.

Having played once more for United - a 5-0 defeat against Chelsea which was their first league defeat in almost a year - it seemed Ferguson's signing was a mistake and Taibi joined Reggina on loan for the remainder of the season in January 2000. After the temporary stint finished, Taibi signed for Reggina on a permanent deal for £2.5m that summer.

He spent a further season at Reggina before signing for Atalanta, where he would end up cementing his place as their No.1 for four successive years. Taibi endured time at Torino and Ascoli, and hung up his boots in 2009 after making over 600 appearances during his professional career.

Taibi struggled during his time with Manchester United
Taibi struggled during his time with Manchester United

Fast forward over a decade and Taibi was pictured last year with short and shaved grey hair, while his 6ft 3in build has broadened since his playing days. The 53-year-old recently worked as sporting director at former club Reggina, and in the 2022/23 season, they reached the play-offs in Serie B under Filippo Inzaghi.

However, Taibi departed his role after they were excluded from Italy's second tier for financial irregularities and unpaid debts, according to Football Italia. The club dropped down to Serie D under a new name of Reggio Calabria, who are currently sixth after picking up 20 points from their 12 league matches.

As for Taibi, he opened up on his time at United during an interview with the Manchester Evening News in 2016. "I left Italy in 1999 because I could not turn down a club as great as Manchester United," Taibi said. "I did not know Sir Alex Ferguson well other than I knew he wanted to sign me. I think I only met him once beforehand. It was a good experience and a fantastic stadium. I liked the United fans."

Detailing on that mistake, Taibi added: "I honestly do not remember how that mistake happened. Unfortunately, it was a hiccup. To this day, I do not know how it was even possible. The media were bad but it was part of our job - my team-mates were all wonderful with me. I used to think about it a lot but I don't as much anymore."

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