A bench in Corso Re Umberto, one of noble boulevards in downtown Torino.
A group of friends, with the passion for football, a special game that had recently been “imported” from England, met on a bench. They had an intriguing idea, to create a Sports Club. The boys attended the “Massimo D’Azeglio” high school which specialized in Classical Studies, they were well educated but the eldest was only 17 years old. This paved the way for the name, in old Latin language the name “Juventus” means youth. They weren’t yet aware of it, but on 1st November 1897, they had given birth to a legend.
Italy’s greatest football team had been born, if almost by chance. The club’s first President was Enrico Canfari, the first pitch was Piazza d’Armi (Parade Ground) and the side began life by wearing pink. Sporting the same jersey, the club made its debut in the National Championship in 1900. Three years later, the Bianconero colours were in place, originating from Nottingham. Five years later, the first Italian title arrived, having beaten off stiff competition from Genoa and Milanese. President Alfredo Dick from Switzerland, left the club shortly afterwards following rifts in the dressing rooms and various complaints. He then went on to establish Torino and recruit the best foreign players. Juventus suffered some hard times in the subsequent years, due to not being able to compete with the new footballing powers of the moment, Pro Vercelli and Casale.
The Bianconeri made a triumphant return following the First World War: goalkeeper Giacone and defenders Novo and Bruna were the first Juventus players to wear the National Team’s jersey. The President was the poet and man of words Corradino Corradini, who also penned the Juventus anthem used until the 60’s. 1923 was a special year: Giampiero Combi made his first team debut, proving to be one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time and contributed to change the club’s standing. On July 24th, a meeting of the shareholders saw Mr Edoardo Agnelli, the son of the founder of FIAT, elected as the new president. The club also had its own playing surface, in Corso Marsiglia. Terraces were just bricks and the number of supporters increased daily. Juventus had all the foundations to progress through the ranks of Italian football and to strengthen a side already boasting the likes of Combi, Rosetta, Munerati, Bigatto and Grabbi, along with the first official manager, Hungarian Jeno Karoly, and the first foreign world-beater, also from Hungary, left-winger Hirzer.
In 1925/26 Juventus won their second Scudetto, following a gripping final with Bologna, beaten only in a play-off and a grand final against Alba Roma. But this was only just the beginning: from 1930 to 1935, Juve were way out in front and five consecutive Scudetti came to Torino. The main components of the “Golden Five-year period” were the manager Carlo Carcano and champions such as Orsi, Caligaris, Monti, Cesarini, Varglien I and II, Bertolini, Ferrari and Borel II. Juve also gave a prominent contribution to the National Team, who won the World Cup in Rome in 1934. The 1930s saw the Bianconeri have their first experience in continental competition, taking part in the European Cup, the illustrious predecessor of the current Champions League. Luck was not on Juve’s side, but they did make four semi-final appearances.
Juventus resumed their success after the Second World War. In 1947, Giovanni Agnelli, son of Edoardo, who tragically died in a plane crash in 1935, became president. The club’s most heralded champions were now Carlo Parola, the Danes John Hansen and Praest and, most of all, Giampiero Boniperti. Cheered on by thousands of fans, they achieved Scudetto wins in 1950 and 1952.
In 1953, Giovanni Agnelli left his role as president, which was passed onto his brother Umberto two years later. A new triumphant cycle was beginning: initiated by the arrivals of Omar Sivori and John Charles, the Bianconeri conquered the Scudetto in 1958, allowing themselves to wear a star on their shirts having reached ten national titles. In the 60s, there were three more successes, with the last coming in 1967 under Vittore Catella’s presidency, but Juve’s history began to become even more glorious at the start of the new decade. Giampiero Boniperti had hung up his boots, but he continued to lead the team, on 13th July 1971, he became the new President and there was no stopping the Bianconeri.
Juventus wins everything
The Boniperti era started with a bang by winning two championships in succession (1971-72, 1972-73). It was the prologue of a triumphant period in Juve’s history which saw them lift nine Scudetti, celebrate their first European success with the UEFA Cup in 1977, the Cup Winners’ Cup of 1984 and the Champions League.
But the long awaited success in Europe’s highest accolade was tainted with sadness: on 29th May 1985 in Brussels the Heysel tragedy took place. Something unexplainable happened before the start of the match and 39 innocent victims lost their lives. Football, from that moment, would never be the same again. The two teams decided to go ahead with the game, to try and regain law and order, and Juventus won the cup. It’s a joyless success, but the victory enabled the Bianconeri to fly to Tokyo in winter to play the Intercontinental Cup final. Argentinos Junior were beaten on penalties and Juve were the World Champions.
Directing proceedings from the bench was Giovanni Trapattoni. The manager from Cusano Milanino arrived at Juventus in 1976, after Vycpalek and Carlo Parola had created an invincible engine under Boniperti’s presidency. First, by investing in young Italian players, from Zoff to Scirea, from Tardelli to Cabrini, from Causio to Paulo Rossi, from Gentile to Furino, from Anastasi to Betegga. Then, when he was able to sign foreign players from 1980, he could count on their world-beating contributions. The first example of this was Liam Brady, an Irish midfielder with velvet feet and a smart brain, dictating the pace of the game and scoring valuable goals. His final strike, scored in Catanzaro from the penalty spot gave Juve their twentieth Scudetto, and their second star.16th May 1982 and the Juventus supporters were jubilant.
Less than two months later, on 11th July, all Italian fans would share their joy, as thanks to Juventus, in Madrid, the National Team won the World Cup for the third time. Looking through the team it’s impossible not to recognize the resemblance to Trapattoni’s side. Zoff, Gentile, Cabrini, Scirea, Tardelli, Rossi: were the pillars of the Italian National Team who lifted the cup in front of Sandro Pertini, the president of the Italian Republic. Rossi was the tournament’s top scorer, with six goals in seven games, and fully deserving of the Golden Ball, the second Italian player in history after Rivera.
The Jules Rimet trophy became on of the family in Torino. After the World Cup season, the number of eligible foreigners in Italian teams went up to two, so the Pole Zibì Boniek and more significantly, Michel Platini arrived at Juventus.The Frenchman proved to be a true world-beater. He showed elegant movements, with his head held high, placing passes onto his team mates’ feet from 50 yards and contributing regularly to the scoresheet. Le Roi won top goalscorer and the Golden Ball for three consecutive years, delighting supporters from all around the world. At the triumph in Tokyo, he scored the last penalty, the winning spot kick, after one of the best goals ever seen in football history was disallowed in normal time. In that season, Juve achieved their last Scudetto of the Boniperti era. Platini went onto play a further season before becoming a coach, manager and then the President of UEFA in 2007.
Platini’s farewell to football coincided with a reshaping of the team, seeing Juventus enjoy a less successful period, despite achieving the UEFA Cup/Coppa Italia double in 1990. Dino Zoff was at the helm, who at first was supported by the precious contribution of one of his great friends and former team mates, Gaetano Scirea. But fate brought an end to that solid link: on a trip to Poland to scout Juve’s next opponents in the UEFA Cup, Gaetano died in a tragic car accident. The 3rd September 1989 is a date that no supporter will ever forget.
The strongest team in the world
In 1990, Giampiero Boniperti handed over the Presidential reigns to Mr. Vittorio Caissotti di Chiusano. Three years later, Juventus cliniched their third UEFA Cup, but had experienced a barren spell in terms of Championships. In 1994, the club began a process of renovation. Chiusano remained as president, but operating positions were given to Roberto Bettega, Antonio Giraudo and Luciano Moggi.
Marcelo Lippi was managing the side and there were new players featuring: Ferrara in defence, Paulo Sousa and Deschamps in midfield and up front, alongside Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Baggio was an interesting young player. He had joined Juventus in the previous year from Padova, showing a notable technique and a strong personality. His name was Alessandro Del Piero, the man who would go on to rewrite all Juventus records. The Scudetto followed, as did the Coppa Italia. The season was marked by an endless tussle with Parma; Juve’s rivals were only allowed to get their hands on the UEFA Cup. The year was a triumph, but one that was also marked by tragedy, following the death of Andrea Fortunato on 25th April 1995 having suffered from an incurable disease. The Scudetto victory allowed Juve to claim their place in the Champions League the following year. They knocked out Real Madrid in the quarter-finals and then beat Nantes in the semis. The final was to be played in Roma against reigning champions Ajax. On 22nd May 1996, it ended 1-1. The Bianconeri scored all their penalties, while Peruzzi saved two. Jugovic approached the penalty spot smiling for the last spot kick. His smile turned to a cry of joy after a few seconds. Juve were crowned Champions of Europe.
The squad saw drastic changes for the following season. Vialli and Ravanelli left, while Boksic, Vieri and Amoruso arrived. Montero and Zidane also joined to bolster the defence and midfield respectively. The Bianconeri were back on the top of the world, after Del Piero’s goal clinched victory against River Plate in the Intercontinental Cup held in Tokyo. The Scudetto was sealed again, although a second consecutive Champions League final was to end on a low, as former Bianconeri players Moeller and Paulo Sousa took the trophy to Germany.Champions League disappointment was repeated in the following year, when in the final held in Amsterdam, the Bianconeri were defeated by Real Madrid. However, the Scudetto was won once again thanks to the fine form showed by Inzaghi and Del Piero. The following season, Del Piero suffered an injury on 8th November 1998 in Udine. Juventus, without their guiding light, struggled to maintain their rhythm and Lippi gave way to Ancelotti on the bench.
After two unsuccessful seasons, Lippi came back home in 2001. The manager from Viareggio took charge of a team who, without Inzaghi and Zidane, could count on the vital signings of Buffon, Thuram and Nedved. The championship went right down to the wire. Inter were at home and played in Rome against Lazio. Juve, in Udine, were out the blocks immediately and went ahead within the first 15 minutes. Inter, on the contrary, floundered, got back on level terms, fought and then sunk. Scudetto number 26 will be remembered by the immense joy of Del Piero and Trezeguet, along with Ronaldo’s tears. The tricolored shield remained on Juve’s shirt for the following season, but it was a sad year. Avvocato Giovanni Agnelli died on 24th January 2003 and the club was in mourning. In May, Juventus suffered another setback, losing the Champions League final on penalties at Wembley against Milan.
15th July 2003 proved to be a historical date for the club. Juventus entered into agreement with the City of Torino for the acquisition of the land rights of the Delle Alpi Stadium, where the new stadium will be built. In the meantime, in August the team played the Italian Super Cup in the USA and gained revenge by beating Milan. However, the party did not last too long as the death of President Vittorio Caissotti di Chiusano was announced. Franzo Grande Stevens, Vice-President of FIAT stepped into the role. Following the Super Cup victory, the remainder of the season was unfulfilling for Juve, and the club was again in deep mourning the following spring, as Umberto Agnelli passed away on 27th May 2004.
The following season saw Fabio Capello assume control of first team affairs. Among the new arrivals were the Brazilian Emerson, Fabio Cannavaro and Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović. Performances in Europe weren’t as anticipated but Juve were unstoppable in Italy and achieved two consecutive Championships, smashing records and leaving opponents trailing.
But towards the end of season 2005/2006, the club was involved in a judicial enquiry, which came about through some recorded telephone conversations. The matter, known as “Calciopoli” brought big changes within the club, with the election of a new President, Giovanni Cobolli Gigli and a new CEO, Jean-Claude Blanc. Juventus were condemned by the sporting body to play a season in Serie B, and penalized nine points as the two previous Scudetti were taken away. Didier Deschamps was the new manager who began his mission with a core of champions: Del Piero, Buffon and Camoranesi, coming from the World Cup victory achieved in Berlin, as well as Trezeguet and Nedved.
15th December 2006 was a sad date in Juve’s history, two boys from Beretti team, Alessio Ferramosca and Riccardo Neri, died from a tragic accident at the Juventus Centre in Vinovo. With a deep sadness engulfing the club, the side returned to the field the following week and beat Bologna, a determining result for returning to Serie A, and one that was dedicated to the memory of the two young boys. Alex Del Piero finished the season as Serie B’s top scorer, having broken the all-time Juve record for goals scored.
The following season, under Claudio Ranieri’s guidance, saw Juventus finish in third place and qualify for the Champions League preliminary phase. Captain Del Piero, the key man in a great season was top scorer with 21 goals, one more than his team mate Trezeguet. In the 2008/2009 campaign, Juve found it hard in the second part of the season and suffered some negative results which could have impaired their qualification for the Champions League. Ciro Ferrara replaced Ranieri for the last two Championship fixtures and Juventus finished in second place. Ferrara was confirmed for the following season, which saw Fabio Cannavaro make a return and Fabio Grosso, Felipe Melo and Diego join the ranks. In October, Giovanni Cobolli Gigli relinquished the role of Club President, with Jean-Claude Blanc taking full control. However the team, who started very well, ran up against a series of injuries, which compromised their overall performance. The management changed again, as Zaccheroni replaced Ferrara. The season ended with a seventh place finish, and qualification for the preliminary round of the Europa League. The turning point arrived on 19th May 2010, Andrea Agnelli became president of the club and a new chapter had begun in Juventus history.