by: Flavius Killigula
“These are real stories and real feelings! It’s my “encyclopedia” of football moments dedicated to only one dream, to only one spirit, to only one great Legion of invincible warriors, JUVENTUS TORINO! Some of you may agree with me, some of you may not! There is just one undeniable truth though: ALL WHO SHARE MY ADDICTION ARE A PART OF THE STORY! They lived this together with me, they cried like mad men when we lost and went high to taste de sublime rapture in VICTORY! And if you are too young to have lived these moments wait your turn, Juventus won’t disappoint you and you’ll have wonderful tales of your own. “
What would the Story of Camelot be without Arthur? What would “The Iliad” be without Achille? What about The Catholic Church without a Pope? Or a civilisation without art? I don’t expect an answer, it’s one of those rhetorical questions! What Juventus would be without Del Piero?
Still a great club, for sure, still a successful team with great champions like Boniperti, Sivori , Furino Platini , Boniek and so many others. But is Juventus greater because of “ALessandro the Great”?
Of course it is! He is unique in the same way a polished diamond is. He gives value to an entire ERA , he gives sense to an entire struggle , he brings people to the great show in the Arena in the same way old gladiators did. But this one is a gladiator that does use brute force,does not spill blood , he does not need to bring pain to others , nor does he seek glory for himself , but for something greater than him , JUVENTUS!
I remember the first gol of Del Piero! I’ve seen it 1000 times since then. No fear , no hesitation , it was like something unknown was unleashed.Upon this image of a talented boy playing with heart for the love of his life many people build that special relationship with Juventus. Everyone expected class , magic that sublime touch of a God that brings football to another level.And he duly delivered what was asked from him! His story is pretty simple, I quote “In 1993 he transferred to Juventus, and has been there ever since.” That sais all about the MAN!
No media coverage about transfers , scandals , sexy blondes , sex life , nights spent in bars , expensive cars , fights with managers and so on! NOTHING! To today’s standards I think writing about Alessandro Del Piero is “kinda boring”.He kept a low profile outside the field and rather showed his personality where it truly mattered , IN THE GREAT GAME! If you can’t remember a goal scored by Del Piero then you are not a football fan! Or you have bad memories with him and rather try to forget. In any way he made a huge impact wherever he went and people still name that special kick of his “a la Del Piero”.We even have a “Del Piero Zone” on the field , where he scored approaching from the left flank and curling a precise lob into the far top corner of the goal for so many times. Because you can’t be a great one if you don’t have your special trademark in the game. “Il Pinturicchio” has his for so many years now and I think he deserves a colossal statue not only in front of “Juventus ARena”.
He started in that special trio with Ravanelli and Vialli , replacing the so-called irreplaceable Roberto Baggio , on of the greatest of his times , “Ballon D’Or” in 1993! Many believed Juventus made a big mistake to sell such a special man to their arch rivals Milan! Guess what , they knew something most didn’t! They had the next jewel at the club and he needed space to improve. Baggio was gone and the legend begins! From that moment in history we require a huge amount of documents for the story of this MAN! I think two bibles , one Library of Alexandria and the whole Vatican documents won’t be enough for the task. He did so much for this club , changed so many things , beaten so many records ! Ask any goalkeeper in the world his opinion about Del Piero and you will hear the same words: “He is a “fuoriclasse”! The best description though I think it belongs to Iker Casillas of Real Madrid after a “doppietta” on Santiago Bernabeu: “this italian is diabolique”.I think that says it all!
The first two seasons in the European competitions shaped the image of Alessandro and convinced everyone that a GOD was wearing the sacred Juventus shirt! Borussia Dortmund , Steaua Bucuresti , Glasgow Rangers , Manchester Utd etc (apart from Italian teams) quickly learned about the new guy in town. And boy , they learned it the hard way! It was impressing though , no one seemed to have a negative response , it was like the entire world was astonished by such magic. It was that year Del Piero was to witness one of the biggest injustice of all time in football! Winner of the Champions League after a thrilling season , scorer of 6 goals , most wanted , most spectacular player , loved by all , NOT RECEIVING THE BIG PRIZE , “Ballon D’Or”. Instead it was given to Mathias Summer , strong german defender(and that’s all) , for a reason not even germans understand. But Pinturicchio moved on , there was important job to be done , no time for regrets!
The years passed , the team changed , managers changed , even the stadium was different ,new teammates arrived , THERE WAS ONLY ONE SOLID STONE , A PERFECT SHAPED ONE , THAT STOOD INVINCIBLE , UNMOVABLE! If you saw Del Piero than you knew Juventus is playing , if you saw Juventus , Del Piero was there! Like two soul mates , undivided , together on the same path to victory! Even today it is hard to comprehend the full importance of this man for Juventus! Because it is THE MAN who took the decisions and gained the strength to go on!. The player created magic on the field , BUT IT’S DEL PIERO THE MAN THAT MUST BE PRAISED ABOVE ANYTHING ELSE.The long and painful days on the bench with Capello’s boy’s on the first row , the recovery after the horrible Udinese injury and the difficult path of regaining his status. ALL THAT STRUGGLE for one purpose , FOR THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE!And in the end came the most horrible story of all , FARSOPOLI!
That year (2006) Del Piero won what is still considered to be the biggest title of all , CHAMPION OF THE WORLD , THE BEST OF THE BEST , Italy was the Queen of the world! His contribution was important (germans can’t deny that) and so was the work of other Juventus players in the National Team.The structure of that success was built upon Juventus men.
The way Italy and other clubs thanked for this magnificent achievement? They brought us to false justice, accused us of being the leader of Italian football , manufactured a disgusting trial and sent us to Serie B.What followed we all know! The true warriors kept fighting for the flag they defended in so many battles! They formed a legion of shields no human injustice could break. And who was the general, the will, the brave heart behind this rebellion against maggots with no honour? Still him! ALessandro the Great! Capello’s mercenaries left, some betrayal took place, but i guess that’s routine in every army! What’s important is that Juventus showed character and the man to raise the flag, to declare eternal love and gratitude to Juventus , fans and Agnelli family was still HIM.Under his wise guidance and that of former Juventus player Didier Deschamps (coach now), the fellows looked even more convincing, even more enraged. Every step of the climb he managed to inspire, every breath of air for the team came from his or Nedved’s lungs, every punch from the adversaries was less painful because of him. When you have Del Piero next to you in training, on the field, you cannot remain unmoved by his unique charisma, by his gentleman manners, by his positive approach of the game,You became greater yourself! Because many hate Juventus in Italy for obvious reasons, BUT ONLY A MADMAN CAN HATE DEL PIERO!He came back to Serie A, scoring more goals, gaining more respect and honour, once again shaking the world of Champions League he was so familiar with.
In 2008 he went to Santiago Bernabeu to teach yet another football lesson as Juventus defeated Real Madrid 2-0. As he left the pitch after being substituted, fans from both sides gave him a standing ovation. And believe me, that’s more valuable than “Ballon D’or”. Same thing happened on Old Trafford, and not everyone has such respect from the english fans. And if anyone had doubts about his quality at the age of 37, he is still playing for Juventus, still killing the dreams of Inter and Milan, still living their defenders with nothing to do but watch and learn, still scoring “a la Del Piero”.The legend LIVES!
In good times or hard times , in peace or war , he gained that God aura he never sought, as he always remained the same shy boy who first walked on the grass of Delle Alpi. Never wanting anything for himself , but for the CLUB he so vigorously defended.
The days are near and near and I am terrified to say this , but eventually I will have to say goodbye to Alessandro Del Piero the player. It is so hard because I have never knew Juventus without him ,never forged a dream of glory without THE MAN in it! More than 300 hundred goals , more than 500 games played, is this a magnificent period in history I lived or is just a dream? If it’s a dream I don’t want to wake up! The player may go away , but THE MAN IS STILL THERE! I’m sure he’ll continue his work outside the field , still receiving warm welcomes , still helping CLUB and fans the best he can.
And that smile…IS HIS FOREVER! But is also ours, as Del Piero will always be a part of our SOUL! His goal celebration usually consists of him running to the touchline in front of Juve fans sticking his tongue out and THAT’S THE WAY I WILL REMEMBER DEL PIERO! CAPITANO , GRAZIE PER TUTTO!