It always seems impossible until it’s done.
All of us have Heroes. Sports figures, celebrities, rock stars, historical leaders… people who inspire us, who challenge us. Few of us ever have the chance of meeting our heroes, in fact most of us spend our entire lives without shaking the hand of that favorite baseball pitcher, special guitarist, beloved player… that really cool & awesome guy whose poster has been hanging into our bedroom since we were 7.
And that’s alright. For there is a certain aura of “unattainability” around our heroes, the inevitable baggage that comes with fame & celebrity and being idolized by millions and millions of people. So then we resign ourselves. We accept the fact that like most, we will continue to admire these people from afar, showing our support in whichever infinitesimal way we can; a “Like” on their Facebook page, wearing an official T-shirt, attending their concerts/matches/events…
And yet we hope. We pray that perhaps, one day, we will be fortunate enough to meet them in person, and THEN… the emotion will be indescribable.
On Monday July 25th 2011 at 7:41pm, I joined the ranks of the lucky ones.
Below are videos I took during my run-in with Juventus on the first night in New York for their North-American Tour 2011. Apologies if the audio is poor, or the lighting is dim, or the camera shakes, or if strangers walk into frame. This all steady-cam unedited footage of a night I’ll never ever ever forget.
Del Piero Arrives at the Hotel Lobby!
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Juventus.
Juventus Post-Dinner Stroll in the Lobby
Pazienza, Marchisio, & Barzagli Endure
Claudio Marchisio Signs My Captain’s Armband!
The last video almost never happened. Completely forgetting to take a picture with him, I asked Claudio Marchisio to sign my own Captain’s armband that I wear for my football team. The armband was a last-minute grab as I dashed out of my apartment to get the hotel, and thank God it happened to be lying on my coffee table. Originally I wanted to have it signed by Del Piero, but on my way there I decided I wanted it signed by our Principino and Capitan Futuro. I handed Claudio both my armband and a sharpie and asked him to autograph my “fascia di capitano”. He asked for my name and I told him “Michael” (I ALMOST wanted TeamGREASE) but I also mentioned he could write the Italian version “Michele”. He insisted on the American version, and as he started to autograph it my brain switched from “holy shit this is fkn awesome!” to “hey Grease: FILM THIS!” So I grabbed the video and hit record. I had to teach him the American spelling of my name. It was awesome.
As epic as the Marchisio moment was, my favorite moment of the night occurred almost immediately after that. I walked back into the main area of the hotel, near the steps of the lobby where the players went upstairs for dinner. I see Alex Del Piero is leaning against a column all by himself with no other players, fans, or even tourists near him. Having already met him earlier that night (which was probably 3 hours before this point) I didn’t want to bother him too much, but I did want to talk to him. So sans camera, videocam, or sharpie in hand I asked ADP if I could bother him with a question, he nodded smiling. “Is the training tomorrow open to the public?” I asked, in perfect Italian. Alessandro replied that it was, so I asked him where exactly in Central Park training would take place. Central Park is big, and there was confusion on my part (and on the part of some of the Juve staff with whom I spoke with earlier) as to exactly where the hell the team would be training the next day. I hoped Alex could help me out, but said he wasn’t sure. He then he looked over my shoulder to ask someone else if he knew where training was.
That someone else was Antonio Conte who casually strolls over to join our chitchat, and I found myself talking to both of them about the training schedule for the next day. Unreal. Conte did not know exactly where it was and actually seemed to think that *I* might have a better idea where the “field” is, despite my attempts to explain the size of the area. We only spoke for a minute or two, mostly in Italian, but it was fkn badass. Conte has a very commanding presence, super-intense and laser-focused. I brought with me that evening a 1997-98 SONY Home Jersey that I wanted to have signed by both (and only!) Del Piero and Mister Conte, but despite being at the perfect moment it completely slipped my mind.
And you know the best part? After all the events from the day, I’m not disappointed at all.