Alessandro Del Piero played his last match for Juventus in the Coppa Italia final against Napoli, as fans around the world bade him a tearful farewell. These are fans scattered across the globe, separated by geographical boundaries but united for their adoration of Juventus and Del Piero. We have fans like Adam and Lars, who have been supporting Juventus for over two decades along with fans like Chelston, who belongs to the new generation.
We asked these Juventus fans a simple question – “What Del Piero means to YOU ?“.
When did you first notice? Was it at Foggia or that very first goal against Reggiana? Did you see the Parma hat-trick or, like so many, did you notice Alessandro Del Piero for the first time when he scored that goal against Fiorentina almost two decades ago? Whether you saw him from the beginning or joined after the show had begun, it is undeniable that he left each and every one of us with many memories we will simply never forget.
We cheered as he scored goal after goal, applauded as he won trophies, cried as he collapsed on the grass in Udine and watched in awe as the records began to tumble. We admired him incredibly even before he returned from Germany, tucked a World Cup winner’s medal into his pocket and dragged Juventus from the purgatory of Serie B right back into the Champions League, top scorer in each division as the Captain made sure his Old Lady was back at the top table of European football.
The old adage that ‘one man doesn’t make a team’ is without doubt one of football’s biggest truths and yet, while for the most part the 2011-12 Scudetto was won without him, the man simply is Juventus. He told us on Sunday that we had allowed him to dream, but that is the very gift he has given us almost daily for nineteen years.
Others may have tread this path before him, greats such as Giampiero Boniperti, Gaetano Scirea and even Gianni Agnelli, but what Del Piero has done is give even the youngest of today’s fans the chance to look back at the history of the club and say ‘I was there’.
Alessandro Del Piero. A pillar of strength and dignity. A leader by example. His pride in himself very much a reflection of the pride he has in his club and brothers in sport. Showed nothing but gratitude and humility to the very last match of this fateful season, which may be his last with his beloved old lady.
To lose Ale will not mean the end of a strong Juventus, but we can’t deny that it will take away a big chunk of her soul. He was not just a player for Juventus, he was family. Big brother showing the young ones how to shoulder the responsibility of player great football with strong character for such a grand club.
Resident Writer, TheHardTackle
The first word that comes to mind when you say Juventus is Alessandro Del Piero. He’s been the symbol of the club and all that it stands for so many years now and to see him leave is nothing short of a tragedy. For me, Del Piero has been an idol. In an age where we have players, who would gladly leave a club that has to go through the turmoil of relegation, where players would willingly issue ‘come and get me’ pleas, Del Piero stuck by his Lady through the most difficult of times. You don’t buy that amount of sheer loyalty and love for a club; it is inborn and grows stronger as time moves on.
Del Piero has been an outstanding representative for the club and even though he leaves, he will forever remain a leader of Juventus. Wherever life takes him next, the fans and the club will always stand by his side and he will always have a home to come to. A gentleman on the field as well as off it, I’m proud to have Alessandro Del Piero as my captain and my role-model. Grazie Alex for all those moments of sheer ecstasy you have provided me and all Juventus fans with throughout your career.
It’s hard to put into words what, exactly, Alessandro Del Piero means to me. As long as I’ve been a Juventino, Del Piero has been there. It’s as simple as that. I’ve never experienced Juventus without Del Piero as the No. 10. There’s really no other way to think about it. I wasn’t around for all of the 700-plus appearances or the near 300 goals he has scored in a bianconeri jersey, but it doesn’t really matter to me. What Del Piero means to me goes beyond just the impact he’s made that is measured in goals and assists.
He’s more than just a player on my favorite team; he’s a person I look up to. His class goes beyond the field of play. I respect the player with every bone in my body, but I respect the man ever more. Gigi Buffon may be the man who drew me and eventually made me root for Juventus, but I am just as privileged to have somebody like Del Piero be such an integral part of my favorite club. Grazie, Capitano.
I’ll never forget he took Italian football by storm, scored that insanely out-of-this-world goal that won us the game against Fiorentina in 1994.
I’ll never forget when he reached the sky and won the 1995/96 Champions League and the 1996 Intercontinental Cup, when he scored the only goal of the game and was named “Man of the Match”.
However, I’ll also never forget as he crumpled onto the ground in Udine in 1998 and tore his ACL.
I’ll also never forget he played like sh*t for a couple of seasons following his injury.
I’ll never forget how shattered I was in an Italian bar in Melbourne when he also (almost) single-handedly cost Italy the Euro 2000 title in the final against France.
Then slowly, game by game, he played better.
I’ll never forget I jumped jubilantly from my couch in Jakarta when he paid his debt and scored that beautiful, beautiful goal in the 2006 World Cup semifinal against the host Germany, in the 120th minute from the EXACTLY SAME SPOT he missed (twice!) in Netherlands.
I’ll also never forget that he stuck with us to the purgatory in Serie B and helped us back to scudetto this year with that important free-kick goal against Lazio. Then a crowning goal on his last Serie A game with Juve against Atalanta.
To me, he represents what Champion truly means: someone who has everything, falls, then gets back up again. Stronger than ever.
To me, Baggio, Zinedine Zidane and Francesco Totti as the technically better players but if anyone asks me what Alessandro Del Piero means to me, I can only answer: “To me, Alessandro Del Piero is JUVENTUS.”
It was 1998 and I was 15 years old when I first came across that name. I saw glimpses of his genius during France ’98, and instantly knew that what I was witnessing was something amazing, something inspirational, something extraordinary.
Come Euro 2000, and I witnessed my first heartbreak. Watching that final with my brother late in the night, I truly understood what it felt like to live, breathe and die on a field.
The CL campaign of 2002-03, that goal v/s Real Madrid where he turned Hierro and slotted past Casillas has to be the sweetest memory of my life. Alex’s overhead kick vs Milan and Trezegol’s header which secured us the title, is etched in my memory forever.
Winning the WC 2006 with “Gli Azzurri” brought the biggest of joys for my favorite player, but the scandal erupted and brought the unfair relegation to Serie B. Alex, being the real hero of Juventus, stayed and brought us back to Serie A where we truly belong. And all through the years, Ale10 has proved to the world that he truly has aged like wine – the older, the better. Winning the 2011-12 Scudetto is a fitting tribute to him.
“Pinturicchio” is my inspiration, my idol, my GOD with no equal. The Player, the Man, the Legend, he is everything to me – GRAZIE PER TUTTI, IL MIO DIO.
FORZA ALE, FORZA JUVE !!
Where to start with Alessandro Del Piero? Comparisons to other players may be possible in terms of his on pitch merits, although few can rival him in that respect, but when it comes to off-field significance to his club, such comparisons become futile.
Take some of the biggest stars to have served the Old Lady in recent history; Michel Platini, Roberto Baggio and Zinedine Zidane. All wonderful Ballon d’Or winning players who have left a golden heritage at the club. All legends that will never be forgotten. Yet each of these players spent five years at Juventus. Del Piero finishes his Juve career one year shy of having served his club for two decades!
‘ADP’ has over the years become synonymous with the values of Juventus; Adoration, Dedication, and Prowess. After calciopoli, Pinturicchio was the first player to declare that whatever happened to the club, he would stay and fight for the return to glory of his beloved Juventus. A deed that ensured that his status went from merely ‘loved’ to positively ‘deified’ amongst supporters.
He delivered on his promise. As he bows out, he leaves Juventus on top once more. No Lady could ever ask more of her Cavalier.
You are the fantasy of a little child. One who imagined playing the last minute of the World Cup final, having to take a potentially match-winning free kick and attempting to curl it into the top-right corner whispering the words: “DEL PIERO…”
You were the lifesize poster hanging on my childhood wall. You are the poster hanging on my adult wall. Here’s 15 years of looking at you, kid.
You are not the reason I fell in love with Juventus, but you’re the reason I stayed in love with Juventus, stayed in love with the beautiful game.
Pinturicchio, Godot, Alessandro, ADP. Or semplicemente, Ale.
You are grace, technique, fantasia. The way you caress that ball, hold it away from opposing players, then with the slightest of touches, turn a rolling ball into visual poetry… is magic.
You were the heart of Juventus. You will continue to be its symbol. In the words of your friend Gigi, “In 150 years, there will be no other player, capitano, or bandiera like you”.
Grazie Alessandro, for everything that you have given the Juventini nation. And for everything you will continue to give us, away from the Black & White shores of Turin.
footballitaliano.co.uk, BBC Sportsworld radio pundit
Flicking through the images of Alessandro Del Piero as he lifts the trophy, tearing as he waves goodbye to his legion of fans, I’m overcome with sadness and I realise this should not be the emotion I’m feeling. We are meant to celebrate this fantastic footballer and extraordinary man and yet the feeling of loss is overwhelming.
Il Capitano is the last surviving member of the great Juventus side that dominated Europe and Italy for much of the nineties, when I became a fan. Watching him wave goodbye to the fans in his last league game made me realise what I’m really mourning is the loss of my youth.
Del Piero’s Juve was there when I started my new school, fell in love for the first time and suffered my first heartbreak. They were my companions when I spent weeks in hospital after breaking my bones and they kept me company when I moved from country to country, alone as a student. Del Piero was my captain when I graduated University and started my first job and he’s still my captain today.
This man represents my past and he’s the symbol of my youth, the protagonist of some of my greatest memories as a child, an adolescent and finally as an adult. I may have lost my icon but at I take solace in the fact I’ll never lose Juve.
I have seen a Juventus team without Alessandro Del Piero. The first season I started following the Old Lady of Turin , back in the 1992-93 season, I was a kid who knew only Italian superstar, Roberto Baggio. But Baggio moved on, and I stayed back with Juve- through the triumphs of the Lippi years, the disappointments of losing European finals, the bewilderment of the Ancelotti era, the rage at Perugia, the return of Lippi, 5th Maggio, Manchester 2003, Capello’s automatons, the farce and tragedy of 2006, the purgatory of serie B, the wilderness of the Secco regime, and finally, salvation with Antonio Conte.
With millions of Juventus supporters, he stayed with us, at Delle Alpi, Florence , Bari , Bernabeau, Rimini and Trieste , he graced us with his skill and genius. Now that we have to say a tearful goodbye, we are going back to Year Zero. An era ends, and the faithful waits for another champion.
Del Piero joins the pantheon of Juve deities who reach out beyond the football pitch and become the very ambassadors of Lo Stile Juve, an epitome of class on and off the pitch. For me Alessandro Del Piero will always remain the greatest footballer I have ever seen. At the end of this great adventure, all I can say are these two words- “Grazie Ale.”
Resident Writer, TheHardTackle
In this era of easy access to information far too many players become revered far too easily. One good season or one good performance makes you a “club legend”, petulant behaviour makes you “cult hero”. We have good players now but few, very few role models. And in football there are few role models bigger than Alessandro Del Piero. In this age of easy praise Del Piero is one player who completely deserves every accolade he got.
Del Piero holds a number of records for Juventus but he was never about the numbers, was he? For me he represents every thing that is good about Juventus. The grit, the class, the ability to bounce back from all adversity. The message that flashed on his official site when Calciopoli verdicts broke out. He gave us fans words of strength when we needed it most. Del Piero was not just about the goals but the countless precious moments he provided us in last 2 decades.
He is an ideal example to follow for any budding footballer. With Del Piero, a glorious era of Juventus and Calcio will end. We might never again see a player who resonated quality both on and off the pitch. Watching Juventus will never, ever be the same again.
I suspect my words won’t be so much different from millions of other fans’ testimony for Del Piero, but here it goes. I started following Juventus in general around 1995-1996. Every Juventino knows what that season means – Marcello Lippi’s Juventus winning the Champions League.
I would be lying if I said I remember every single game from that Champions League season, but that’s when I saw Del Piero playing first time in my life. From then on I started following Juventus closely. In the beginning it was solely to watch Alex play, but eventually team’s history, its traditions and its style slowly grabbed my attention. Couple of seasons later I caught myself passionately supporting the Old Lady, and that’s when I knew I became a Juventino.
Fast forward 16 years of passion, joy and sorrow, I’m supporting Juventus more than ever. Listing Del Piero’s victories during that period would require a lot more time and space, which I’m sure all of us familiar with, but that magic key which opened up a treasure, known as Juventus Football Club was Del Piero and I will forever be thankful that it happened to me. #GrazieAlex #CeSoloUnCapitano
TheHardTackle thanks all contributors for their valuable inputs.