‘Afterthoughts‘ is a series here on JuventiKnows where we give you our unfiltered, personal, and sometimes idiosyncratic views on the current state of affairs at the club. This space is reserved for more elaborate musings on a given theme and is entirely subjective (so don’t flog anyone but the writer, alright?!)
Season 2012-13 of the Australian Hyundai A-League officially kicks off tomorrow. The following day — on October 6, 2012 — Sydney FC will step onto the grass of Westpac Stadium, Wellington, and face off against Wellington Phoenix. At this point Alessandro Del Piero‘s first club match, wearing a shirt other than that of Juventus FC in 19 years, will officially have begun.
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On our latest IAOTTOLS podcast, I voiced my relief over the “ADP-to-other-club-than-Juve” saga finally being at an end, and – surprisingly (in part even to myself) – I ended up saying that, basically, I won’t be following Ale for his adventures ‘Down Under’. That is not entirely true. I will follow him of course, and will always wish him well on and off the pitch. It just won’t be the same for a while, as his and my cause will not be one and the same.
Ever the model professional, Ale will be giving his all for Sydney FC while I will still, by that weird and enigmatic logic that is the nature of fandom, give my all for Juventus. Even if Del Piero and I will always share the passion for the Bianconeri, his choice (however forced) to play for a different team represents some degree of separation between us, which – temporary as it will be – is a fact I have to deal with.
Separation anxiety is not an uncommon phenomenon. Surely, my angst is shared by many, so I will take this opportunity to try and
make sense of deal with it. I apologize in advance if this turns out to be an idiosyncratic ramble, but after all I (don’t) pay you guys good money to act as personal therapists of mine, right? I mean I would if I had them, at any rate…
While separation is tough (bordering on unbearable in this case), the approximately 142 degrees of longitude separating Turin from Sydney will help me ease the pain of seeing Ale playing on at another club. It is a buffer which, in both mental and geographical terms, will be helpful in coping with this new and most unwelcome reality.
Just to be clear: I have never adored a player like I do Ale (and frankly, I should be very lucky if I ever were to do so again in my lifetime). There is no human being that I have thought or written more about than ADP. Not even Plato or Kant, nor John Lennon or Eddie Vedder for that matter (on whom I have written and thought quite a lot)!
In short, for all intents and purposes, I love Alessandro Del Piero. It is so, and it will never ever be different: it is one of those facts of life. I will cheer for Ale, always, and it’s not that I blame him – or necessarily the club – for this most unnatural parting of ways. My gut just somehow refuses to accept him not playing for Juve, and consequently — on a strictly personal level, and through no fault of Ale’s, mind you — my enthusiasm for his new project is dampened somewhat.
Making sense of it, as one is after all obliged to, I do see the reasons. I have stated them repeatedly, and still try to convince myself that they are valid. I do believe that Ale wants to play more than he was allowed to last season and in all probability would this one had he stayed. I do see this as more of a mutual decision than it is made out to be, and I do wish My Hero to be the hero of many more than he already is, in Australia and beyond.
This, however, is not my project, a revelation that was eventually made perfectly clear to me after these last, painful months. I always knew that I was a “club man” rather than one following certain players (for all their merits), and I always looked at the name on the front rather than at the back etc., etc. But to be perfectly honest, I never knew that the feeling was this strong… until now.
If ever proof was needed though, I got that by consulting my gut recently: I realize now that even Alessandro Del Piero — the most perfect incarnation of a footballer known to (this) Man and who will forever be My Captain — will for the coming seasons be playing a more peripheral role in my mind. Not because I like him less, but simply because he will not be at Juventus. Although there is no doubting that Alex will always, to some extent, represent Juve and its values wherever he goes, the simple fact that he will have no official role at the club for the near future means that – for the first time in 19 years – there will be an actual separation between the Icon and myself on a mental level.
However, by graciously placing his remaining years as an active footballer just about as far from his and my club as is geographically and cognitively possible, he allows me to almost look at this as his retirement. For, without being too patronizing, I do believe it is fairly accurate to effectively call this Del Piero’s “retirement” from top football. While I do believe Ale could have played a couple of seasons at the highest level, I am selfishly glad he opted not to. For I realise now that this process would have been infinitely more difficult, had ADP chosen to play at a club in Europe or even in the MLS. Maybe he realised this himself too?
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I am sure our Pinturicchio will do a world of good in Australia. And while he brings joy to millions on the other side of the globe, the material & metaphorical distance separating us will allow me to come to terms with it all and feel that, as some have put it, Alessandro Del Piero did not really leave Juventus. He just took a rather long vacation in a wonderful, far-off country.
Seen as such, these 142 degrees of separation actually dampen my anxiety and, coupled with the unquestionably temporary nature of this state, make it almost bearable.
Thanks for listening!