This post is written for all the non-soccer (or newly-converted) fans out there, be it in the US/Canada, Asia, Africa, or anywhere in the world! Whenever a name or place is mentioned that we Juventus fans consider common knowledge, we take the time to give a short or full explanation for neophyte eyes.
Yes folks, not everyone in the world knows who Alessandro Del Piero is. Or that “the Old Lady” isn’t just an affectionate moniker you give to the missus. But they will after reading this article!
So, if you have a friend out there who’s still on the fence about following soccer and picking a particular team to cheer for, it is your DUTY as a Juventino to make him read this piece. We at JuventiKnows expect nothing less!
Every 4 years, the FIFA World Cup manages to pull plenty of new fans into the game we call “soccer.” We could definitely see that here in North America in 2010, where a decent run by the US National Team managed to really pique some interest. Since then, we’ve had a handful of friends who previously showed no interest in soccer ask us about different leagues and eventually, “what team should I support?”
An impossible question, really. It’s cliché as hell, but the old adage is true: “you don’t pick a team, it picks you”. Though it was entertaining to read Bill Simmons’s “which EPL team should I pick”, it seems too methodical, too planned, too mechanical… too heartless. For example when our own Aaron Giambattista was in Madrid, he had no intention of following any Spanish team, but the tremendous fan support of Atlético Madrid made him a bit of a sympathizer. It’s not planned or calculated, it just happens. What we suggest you do first, is choose which league you prefer. And then watch games.
Back in July 2010, Francesco of the Italy Offside had a great post outlining the 10 Reasons To Watch Serie A. Many of you might consider following Serie A because you have Italian ancestry. Other very good reasons include the rich history of the league, the fact that it is fairly balanced and tactically-oriented. If you enjoy a chess match, Serie A is your league. By opposition, the Spanish Liga is too poor defensively, while the English PL often becomes a case of kicking the ball up the field and hope your big man can get to it. Both can lead to a lot of goals, but as time progresses… you might want something more.
So ultimately, you might start watching some Serie A games. Let the teams speak to you. For example if you have Sicilian ancestry, you might watch a Palermo game and feel a genuine connection to the shirt. Or for whatever crazy reason, you might starting cheering for the team Juve is playing against. No one can make the decision for you. But because this post is titled “Top 10 Reasons why you should follow Juve”, here’s some grounds why you should at least watch some Juventus games, and give us a chance to be your Squadra del Cuore.
#1 – Italy’s Favorite Team
Do you love Italy? Do you love every different city? Not sure where your Italian family is from? Then Juventus is a good choice. Most teams in Italy have a very strong connection to their city or region of origin; in fact, almost all of them are named after the city. Juventus is the exception. It is massively popular everywhere, with nearly 1/3 of the Italian population pledging their allegiance to the club. That is actually widely regarded as being a low estimate, as it doesn’t count the massive amounts of fans (particularly in Southern Italy) who call Juventus their 2nd favorite team, after the local squad. You can find Juventini (Juventus fans) in cities like Rome, Florence, and Milan, all which are home to archrivals of Juventus. Italians call Juventus la fidanzata d’Italia (“Italy’s girlfriend”) precisely for the high number of tifosi it has all across the peninsula.
In 2009, Aaron went on a two-week road trip in Italy. While in Northern Italy in Venice, the owner of a restaurant saw Aaron’s Juventus jacket, grinned, dragged him into his kitchen to show him a massive Juventus flag and clock on the wall. Later during the trip, in Positano (near Naples, in the region of Campania) two young kids playing soccer in the streets started cheering Del Piero’s name (the captain of Juventus) upon seeing the jacket. No matter where you go in Italy, there are Juventus fans. No other team can claim that. There’s plenty of Juventus fans worldwide too: the club has reported that 170 million people all across the globe call Juventus their team (they are most concentrated in South East Asia, who counts about 100 million).
#2 – A Very Proud Tradition within the Italian National Team
If you’re a fan of the Azzurri, you probably know several Juventus players. The Old Lady (one of the nicknames given to the Juventus team) has a proud tradition of playing an Italian core, which is becoming rare in Italy. Juventus is the only team in Italy to have had a player in every Italian World Cup squad to date.
In the last World Cup in 2010, as always, Juventus had a large contingent within the national team, though it went poorly for both. In the 2006 World Cup final against France, five Juventus players played for Italy. The previous time Italy won (1982) seven Juventus players took part in the final against West Germany, including 4/5 of the defense, and two of the goalscorers (Paolo Rossi and Marco Tardelli).
It’s such a phenomenon, there is even a separate “Juventus FC and the Italian national football team” Wikipedia article.
#3 – Some of the Best Players ever to play Soccer/Football
The prestigious and highly respected “Ballon d’Or” prize goes out on an annual basis to the best player, as voted by a panel of journalists. Juventus are tied as the club with the most honored players (8), with legends like Omar Sivori, Paolo Rossi, Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio, Zinedine Zidane, and Pavel Nedved winning it in Juventus colors. Platini is one of three 3-time winners, and he is the only player to win it 3 consecutive times in a row. We also count plenty of runners-up, such as Gianluigi Buffon, Totò Schillaci, Zbigniew Boniek, Dino Zoff, and John Charles.
That’s only the Ballon d’Or by the way. We have plenty of legends who are recognized as the best in their position, be it poacher-extraordinaire David Trezeguet, fantasista Alessandro Del Piero, defensive giants like Cabrini, Gentile, and Scirea, and brilliant midfielders like Tardelli, Conte, Davids. Not to mention a whole host of others that will be honored in the Hollywood star-style walk of fame at the new stadium.
#4 – Our still active captain is the Greatest Juventus Player of All Time
You could not pick a better idol than the captain of Juventus, Alessandro Del Piero. Now is a good time to start following him, because he won’t be playing for much longer! At 36 years of age (soon 37 in November!), Del Piero is not the young player he used to be, but is still plenty lethal. And he’s the greatest Juventus player of all time, probably not to be surpassed anytime soon…or possibly, ever.
Del Piero (or Pinturicchio has he’s affectionately known) has the record for the most games played for Juventus, as well as the most goals scored. He’s made over 600 appearances, and scored over 300 goals for the club. He’s finished topscorer of Serie B, Serie A, and the UEFA Champions League (Europe’s premier club competition) twice.
Consider this: the average striker typically breaks into the first team around age 22-23, and retires around 10 years later at 32-33. There’s about 45 games a season (give or take), and a striker would be proud of scoring 15 goals a season. To do so consistently for 10 years would be tremendous. If a player did that, he’d finish with 150 goals and 450 appearances (barring injuries small or large, etc.). Yet he’d still be a far cry from Del Piero’s record!!
Alessandro’s also got a phenomenal person off the pitch, well-known for being humble, courteous, and a general class act. He’s not the type of player to be seeking the limelight, he’s very much reserved person. Those who have had the honor and chance to meet him personally always said Del Piero was extremely gracious and welcoming.
#5 – The most Titled and Storied Club of Italy
La Vecchia Signora. Like any older woman in Italy Juventus are mature, dignified and revered. Sure, Genoa might be older, but among the country’s biggest clubs Juventus were founded first and, with 29 Scudetti (Scudetto means “shield” or “badge” in Italian and represents the national championship title) they are comfortably the biggest winners in all of Italy, as well as being the only club to win every European and World title available to clubs. The club’s name itself, meaning ‘Youth’ in Latin, owes its origins to a group of Massimo D’Azeglio Lyceum students, sitting on a bench in the distant days of November 1897 when they decided to found the club. The Bianconeri have indeed come a long way in their 114-year history.
It took just 8 years since the club’s creation for the fledgling side to win their first national title, by which time the original pink and black shirts had been replaced (thanks to Notts County) with the now synonymous Black & White stripes. Edoardo Agnelli and FIAT arrived in 1923 and the club would never look back, winning 7 titles before the outbreak of World War Two, including an unprecedented and unsurpassed 5 consecutive triumphs from 1931-35, forever remembered as the ‘Quinquennio d’oro‘.
Following Torino’s post-war domination of Italian football, the Agnelli family would spark a second golden era, adding John Charles and Omar Sivori to captain Giampiero Boniperti and form an incredible side. The ‘Trio Magico‘ would break numerous records as well as taking the club’s total number of league wins into double figures, seeing the first gold star (each signifying 10 titles) added to the famous shirt.
Success in Europe was harder to come by, but would eventually arrive in 1977 as Giovanni Trapattoni led the Bianconeri to the UEFA Cup and spark the clubs truly golden era. During his 10 years in charge, il Trap would win an incredible 6 Scudetti, 2 Italian Cups, the first European Cup win in 1985, that UEFA Cup, the Cup Winners Cup, a European SuperCup and the Intercontinental Cup.
Then, after fading in the wake of his departure and when it looked like AC Milan would become the dominant force in 90s Calcio, the Triade arrived in 1994. Antonio Giraudo, Roberto Bettega and of course Luciano Moggi may have inherited an incredible squad, but they added to it and replaced key figures impeccably, providing Marcello Lippi with the tools to almost equal Trapattoni’s success. Another European Cup was added to further domestic dominance as Juventus continued to assert their position atop of all other Italian clubs, a return to which is as inevitable as it is overdue.
|National titles||European titles|
|Nat’l Championship / Serie A:||29||UEFA Champions League/Cup:||2|
|1905, 1925–26, 1930–31, 1931–32, 1932–33, 1933–34, 1934–35, 1949–50, 1951–52, 1957–58, 1959–60, 1960–61, 1966–67, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1994–95, 1996–97, 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2004-05, 2005-06||1984–85, 1995–96|
|Runners-up (5): 1972–73, 1982–83, 1996–97, 1997–98, 2002–03|
|UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup:||1|
|Runners-up (20): 1903, 1904, 1906, 1937–38, 1945–46, 1946–47, 1952–53, 1953–54, 1962–63, 1973–74, 1975–76, 1979–80, 1982–83, 1986–87, 1991–92, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1999–00, 2000–01, 2008–09||UEFA Cup:||3|
|1976–77, 1989–90, 1992–93|
|Runner-up (1): 1994–95|
|Coppa Italia:||9||UEFA Intertoto Cup:||1|
|1937–38, 1941–42, 1958–59, 1959–60, 1964–65, 1978–79, 1982–83, 1989–90, 1994–95||1999|
|UEFA Super Cup:||2|
|Runners-up (4): 1972–73, 1991–92, 2001–02, 2003–04||1984, 1996|
|1995, 1997, 2002, 2003||World titles|
|Runners-up (3): 1990, 1998, 2005||Intercontinental Cup:||2|
|Serie B:||1||1985, 1996|
|2006–07||Runners-up (1): 1973|
#6 – The Future looks Bright
Juventus are still on the way to recovery following the 2006 Calciopoli scandal, yet our near future is looking very bright.
During the past two years, the Juventus management was completely revolutionized. Our new club President is now Andrea Agnelli, whose family has been a crucial part of Juventus for nearly a century now. He is the nephew of Gianni Agnelli, officially president of the club from 1947 to 1954 but life-long involved in the club’s affairs, and officially perhaps THE most iconic management figure of the club until his death in 2003). We’ve also snagged one of the smartest Director Generals/Directors of Sport (the person in charge of player trades & transfers) in Italy, Giuseppe Marotta, and his right-hand man Fabio Paratici.
The club is doing very well financially, and we have virtually no debt that plagues many of the other European giants. We’ve built our own state-of-the-art stadium that unlike the rest of Italian fields, will be completely owned by the club (all matchday revenue $$$ will go to Juventus and the club can revamp it at will). The stadium will also have modern facilities (restaurants, bars, stores), and the distance between the first row of the stands to the actual pitch will be shortest in all of Italy.
Lastly, our youth team, the Primavera, continues to churn out excellent talent, they have won the prestigious Viareggio tournament consecutively in 2009 & 2010, as well as a total of 5 times in the last 9 years. While integrating them into the Senior team has been difficult in the past, they usually do get a chance eventually . Primavera graduates that have played at Juve in recent years include Antonio Nocerino, Raffaele Palladino, Domenico Criscito, Sebastian Giovinco, Cristiano Pasquato, Claudio Marchisio, and Paolo De Ceglie. This year, we have the last two on the list in our first team.
We may be in a lull right now, but with money, a new stadium, competent management, and great youth teams, the future is bright indeed.
#7 – Our Jerseys are Awesome
Black & White for over a century. Pure class, and with a great history behind them. Juventus originally wore pink, and requested a more durable color. A Juventus player (John Savage) contacted a friend from Nottingham for advice, and he shipped the club the classic bianconero kit from Notts County. Juve have worn it ever since.
In a classy hat tip to history, Juventus invited Notts County (also the oldest football team in the world), to open our brand new stadium in September 2011. Notts County responded by saying they were “prepared to move heaven and earth” to make the friendly. Both the opening ceremony and the match were one of the most unforgettable experiences in recent Juventus history.
This season’s jerseys see the return of the original Juventus color (pink) for the Away shirt. On that note, make sure to read Lars’s fashion review.
#8 – Club & Players are very Technology-Friendly
As something of a rarity in Italian football, Juventus FC has a very good and detailed English language homepage which is frequently updated with news and loads of multimedia content (in full English text & subtitles for videos).
The site also offers versions in Italian (obviously) as well as Chinese, Indonesian, and Japanese.
Plus, if you are into the whole social network thing, many of Juventus players have very active Facebook & Twitter accounts, as well YouTube:
#9 – The Greatest Goalkeeper in the World
His name is Gianluigi Buffon, and many reckon him to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, if not THE greatest. Gigi’s struggled a bit with injuries in the last few years, but when healthy, there is no one better.
‘Legend’ is a word that has become far too commonplace in modern sports media, a moniker given to almost any player who scores a memorable goal, wears the armband or merely stays at one club longer than most of his peers. Yet when it comes to describing Italian football’s undisputed number one it is perfectly apt, a fitting title to bestow upon a man who’s deeds are already part of the clubs long and storied history.
Buffon was signed from Parma in the summer of 2001 for almost €40m, still a record fee for a goalkeeper and the highest sum paid by Juventus for any player. Immediately he had an impact, helping a team that had gone four years without a title to the Scudetto, a feat he would repeat the following season. In his first two years he played a total of 92 games, culminating with the 2003 Champions League Final where, despite saving two penalties, he ended on the losing side.
Two more Scudetti were added, as were two Italian Super Cups and five consecutive Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year awards (six including the one in the season prior to his move to Turin). Then came two acts which would forever define his career and indeed testament to the man he is today; the 2006 FIFA World Cup and Juventus being relegated to Serie B.
San Gigi (as Buffon is affectionately known; the Juve fans have already canonized him ) was beaten only twice during the entire World Cup – once by an own-goal and a penalty in the Final – during the seven games played by the Italian National Team, kept a record five clean sheets and was voted goalkeeper of the tournament by some margin. As the triumphant Azzurri returned home it was becoming clear what the ramifications of the scandal were, yet Buffon chose to remain in Turin, a remarkable decision given he had only just cemented his status as the best in the world in his position.
Yet remain he did as La Vecchia Signora tore through the second division and returned not only to the top flight but also to UEFA Champions League football at the first opportunity. Since then Gigi and the club’s ride has been far from smooth, but the stopper’s faith has rarely wavered. Often Captain in absence of Alessandro Del Piero, Buffon is as always, a commanding and imposing figure between the posts, his deep bellows clearly audible to those in the stands.
#10 – The Juventus Spirit
Juventus doesn’t play the prettiest game in the world. The last two seasons have been somewhat rocky in this regard but historically, we’re the type of team that prioritizes a ‘clean sheet’ (conceding no goals) over scoring five. Our players don’t always have the most flair either. You’re never going to see a Juventus team filled with Brazilians that do thirty step-overs before passing the ball with a backheel.
What we lack in style however, we make up in SPIRIT. The team is known for its “never-say-die” attitude, its grinta (determination) and mental toughness. Juventus doesn’t give up when the going gets tough, it digs in and fights back. It might not be sexy football, but after watching a few games we guarantee that you’ll learn to appreciate it.
There’s been plenty of evidence of the revival of this spirit this season: despite being down to 10 men against Bologna, the team outran their opponents and endlessly laid siege to their goal. We also completely bossed AC Milan, dominating every aspect of the game by getting first to the ball and being first to recover it. The players never stopped running and never stopped fighting.
With the arrival of iconic ex-player, legend, and captain Antonio Conte as manager, this year more than ever will put Juventus under the GRINTA banner.
#11 – BONUS REASON – The best English-language Blogging Team of any Italian club
Consistent blogging is tough work, people definitely underestimate the type of commitment that is required. Posts can take up to 2-3 hours and necessitate editorial control. JuventiKnows has brought together a crack squad of Juventini to write for the site. We try to bring you timely and relevant news, previews, reviews, player profiles, philosophical musings… what have you. All with a sometimes sarcastic, bitter, or downright bizarre twist.
Between Aaron‘s past at the Juventus Offside providing serious and offbeat news, Adam‘s professional-grade writing & contributing for publications such as Sports Illustrated, Calcio Italia, and Beyond the Pitch, Lars‘s musings & philosophical approach to calcio, Marco‘s top-notch editing and match-reporting experience at Soccerlens & mCalcio (he also did formatting, images & tables for this piece) and Mike‘s expert web design & graphic artist work (he designed, among others, our JuventiKnows logo!), you’ve got a diverse, experienced, expert team writing about the Old Lady.
What more could you ask for?
In conclusion, for those fans who got a taste of soccer/football/calcio and enjoyed it, I hope you take our advice. Check out the Serie A or as they call it, il campionato più bello del mondo (“the world’s most beautiful championship”), and watch Juve. Whether you join us as a Juventino (should we say… JuventiKnow?) or end up following the “other” teams, it will definitely worth your while.