SEPTEMBER 19, 1993. Juventus vs. Reggiana. Having made his senior team debut for Juventus just a week prior, Alessandro Del Piero stepped on the green field of Stadio Delle Alpi with the firm intention to make an impression.
In the 82nd minute, with the score already 3-0 for the Bianconeri, ADP did just that. Picking up an aerial through ball from Di Livio, Pinturicchio armed a diagonal left-footed shot into the bottom-right corner, scoring his first ever goal for the Old Lady.
After the match, this TV journalist had the chance to speak with him…
Alessandro Del Piero… year of birth?
You had your debut with Juventus in the away match at Foggia, your international debut in Bologna, and your home debut at the Delle Alpi today [against Reggiana], scoring a goal. Your thoughts on this Juventus team?
“Juventus is here, let’s put it that way. It’s a team that so far has proven to be competitive. As we move forward with the games we’ll see what we can really do.”
Tell us briefly about your football life. Where were you born in footballing terms?
“I was born in Conegliano. I moved to Padova when I was 13, and spent the last 5 seasons — 4 of them in the youth sector, the last year with 10 senior team appearances — there. And now I’m here (laughs). Let’s see how it goes.”
Tell us about your relationship with your teammates, especially the great champions.
“Well it’s a pretty normal relationship. When I arrived, it was surely something special having certain people before my eyes. But if I was able to insert myself into the team well, I owe it also to them for being able to put me at ease.”
The coach holds you in high esteem. He’s proved it by putting you on in the second half of all these last few games. What role do you play?
“An attacking role. I played both as a second striker or as a trequartista. You have to adapt a little to what the coach asks you to do, also. However, always in attack.”
Very well. We wish you a great career and find yourself back here a goalscorer. Okay?
(smiles)”Thank you. Goodbye.”
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Flash forward to 1994. With already one good senior season (as well as 5 tallies) under his belt at Juve, a more experienced Alessandro Del Piero picked things up in 1994-95 right where he left off: scoring goals.
Interviewed in late September, a still very young Bianconero forward shares his first impressions as squad protagonist, with the all the shyness a 19 year-old can have.
A CHAMPION IS BORN
by Vittorio Oreggia
New faces are needed. The sweet and serene face of Alessandro Del Piero, age 19, is probably the one that was missing to unite past and present. And also, to secure the future. Pierino, to use the nickname stuck onto him by his teammates, has been able to win people over and convince critics. It is no small thing. Indeed, it is a lot. He was born a champion, and was born under the star of Juventus. Beyond and above the celebrations that have been marked this first part of the season. Del Piero is a guarantee, a champion with controlled appellation of origin. To understand it, one just needs to see him on the field and hear him speak outside of it. Being like him, naturally good, is not just for everyone.
Alessandro Del Piero, “Juve’s new phenom” as they say. You’ve been compared to Rossi, Platini… you are Baggio’s deputy, and already the idol of the fans. We’re here on the field where you train every day, the old Stadio Comunale. It must be nice to be a Juventino playing for Juventus. It’s a privilege few have had: Boniperti, Bettega, Ravanelli… and now signor Alessandro Del Piero.
“Yes, but let’s drop the “signor” please (laughs). Honestly, if I’d had a choice to pick between one of the great Serie A teams, I would have chosen Juve of course. I was lucky, and I’ll do anything to stay there for as long as possible.”
What does it means to play for Juventus? What is “JUVENTUS” for a professional player?
“It means the maximum a player can aspire to in his career, in my opinion. There are other… let’s say “footballing powers” like Juventus around, but Juve is the one that’s won more, the one that’s won everything. And so it holds a special kind of charm.”
Great champions of the past have said ‘Alessandro Del Piero has the destiny of a champion written all over his skin’. Do you think that this label they bestowed upon you is accurate?
“Well it is not for me to rate these types of labels or comparisons. I always enjoy compliments of course. But it must be said that many people, including those that you mentioned before, have been great champions while I am 19 years old, almost 20, and still have everything to do. I hope to succeed. We will see.”
Let’s talk a little about the goals that you scored with Juve. You’ve netted 5 last year, playing a little with Trapattoni. You haven’t lost the habit this year. Your first goal, your goalscoring baptism in Bianconero… tell us about it.
“It was against Reggiana last year, Sept. 19. My parents’ anniversary coincided with that date by the way, so it was also a special dedication to them. There was a through ball by Di Livio, I arrived at the edge of the box and sent it towards the opposite post with my left. It was an indescribable joy: when you score it is always something very special, because you are surrounded by tension, and the public around you, and all of that. So that moment, it is a moment of liberation.”
It has always been normal in this stadium to discuss “Juventus” and “Scudetto” in the same sentence. The pleasant habit of combining the name ‘Juventus’ to the tricolore is returning. Do you think this might really be the right year? The Scudetto has been missing from the Black & White part of Turin for 8 years now.
“Well hope and desire are all there, because from the first to the last person at the club we are aware of what we are doing, we are sure of the work we do, so we try to do anything to our advantage. It is logical that winning the Scudetto is THE dream… I mean, there is no cup that could replace it. Let’s hope it is indeed the right year.”
From the old Juve to the new… what has changed? Especially for the players, and you.
“I would say several things have changed. First, last year when I came from Padova, I was a bit lost at first because I was not used to this kind of stage here. Then this year as we began preparation, and also because I knew most of the group and the environment (although many people have changed), the situation is a bit different. I’ve also got a few more months in me since last year, so… (smiles).”
Your beginning this year was fire-hot! If you had to choose a goal from those that you’ve scored so far, which one would it be?
“I think the one in Sofia, and the one against Napoli. They both coincide with the same week, so it was a positive week for me personally. I like the Napoli one especially, because it meant our first away win in the campionato, in a stadium which is one of the most beautiful in Italy in my opinion. They’ve got a very warm audience, even if we had them cheering against us that day.”
When, like Baggio, you’ll have scored 100 goals… will you remember them all? Do you get home an night, Sunday evening, and write them all down?
“You know what, let’s do the following: let’s hope to arrive to that finish line as soon as possible, because it’s a difficult goal. Only players like Baggio, like Mancini, like Vialli get to that goal. I hope I will too, but it’s hard. In any case, every goal that you score holds a special kind of memory.”
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A young boy with a suitcase at 13 years of age: from San Vendemiano to Padova, and then from Padova here to Turin. Tell us about the day you took your car and came to Turin… what were the thoughts accompanying you through the 300 km journey towards popularity?
“Well my thoughts ranged from the strangest to the most diverse. I started to recall the day I left home to go to Padova: this time around, I was leaving home again, but instead of traveling to Padova I was heading to Turin. I thought about all the people surrounding me, the players, the club, the great champions on the field, the public, the television cameras, the press. So many feelings and emotions, I could barely contain myself. Also because I was going to play for the team I had always supported as a child. So in addition to “reporting for work”, I entered a special relationship with Juve.”
Angelo Di Livio said: ‘At Padova it was all about ‘home, pitch, football’. Is it so for you in Turin as well? Traveling from home to the pitch and back, always thinking about football?
“Yes, pretty much. Even when we don’t have practice, you think about it, you read about it in the newspapers, there are people on the street reminding you. Juve is always occupying the back of your mind.”
Angelo is a friend. As you said, you started together at Padova. Even here, at Juve, the relationship is working well, at least in goalscoring terms.
“Well yes, he gave me the assist for my first goal in Serie A, and I returned the favor for his first goal in A. Among other things, it’s what binds us in a special way.”
You have the merit and fortune to be the only defending Campione d’Italia at Juve this year, as last season you won the Scudetto with the Primavera.
“We have achieved two goals which, I think, are the most important at the youth level in Italy: the Scudetto and the Coppa Carnevale a few months prior. Both have meant living fantastic and special emotions. Although the league lasted a whole year, the Torneo di Viareggio went by very quickly in 15 days. 15 intense days, because you’re there with all the other teams in one single city: you can meet up, understand, and watch your opponents. In any case, it’s two achievements which made me extremely happy.”
Is it true that your hand was shaking when you signed your first autograph?
“Yes it’s true. Because up to that point — whenever possible of course — I had always asked for autographs. Then to see someone asking me, I remained a little astonished.”
It’s wonderful emotion to be acclaimed by 20, 30, 50,000 people at 19 years of age. ‘Not everyone can do it’ said Roberto Baggio. I think you’ll confirm this…
“Yes, whenever there’s an applause directed an me, it fills me with satisfaction, it’s a strong emotion. But I must focus on playing: I have to think about who to mark, who to pass the ball to, how to lose my defender, etc.. etc.. So many times when I hear cheers, I listen to them, and I keep my emotions inside. Then I try to bring them back out in some positive way. Perhaps with a goal.”