The Story of a Juventus Fan
My Love Affair con La Vecchia Signora …
By Michael Zaccaria
Born in 1973, my personal love affair with ‘Juve’ began in the early 80′s with annual trips to Calabria every summer to meet all of our relatives down there for a yearly catch up. Both my parents are Italian, and moved to the UK with their families after World War II had ravaged Southern Italy. The family on both sides is pretty much spread all over Italy, but on my mum’s side there was a strong bond with Turin and, ironically, there is a split between us being Juventus and Inter fans, with the odd Torino fan thrown into the mix. My Uncle (my mum’s brother) was a massive Juve fan, and that rubbed off on me from a very early age. There has always been the magical emotional high at seeing the black and white shirt. I have never been able to put my finger on it but the emotion that Juve brings out in me is unique. Some things in life you just cannot explain, and my love and passion for Juventus is one of those.
In 1983, Juve reached the European Cup Final Vs Hamburg in Athens. I remember even then at the age of 10 being so excited and nervous on the day of the game, and dreaming of seeing Juve lift the cup later that evening! They lost 1-0 and I was a very disappointed 10 year old returning to school the next day ready to boast we are the European Champions. My support has continued over the years and the first time I managed to watch my heroes in the flesh was a 4-0 victory in Glasgow Vs Rangers in 1995. A few more games followed, including a trip to Munich in 1997 for the Champions League Final Vs Borussia Dortmund. Once again, we froze on the big occasion and lost 3-1, but the emotion of being with the Juventus fans and cheering the team on from the 1st to the 90th minute was something I will never forget. There are no better fans in the world as far as I am concerned, and the fans will always back the team, and sing and cheer for pretty much the whole match, week in week out. My first game in Turin was in December 1999 Vs Inter, where my cousin (an Inter fan) took me and some friends into the Juventus ‘curva nord’ in Stadio Delle Alpi. The game was a sellout (almost 70,000), the atmosphere was electric and Juve won the game 1-0 with a Pippo Inzaghi goal. The Delle Alpi, when full, was an amazing stadium. The other game that stands out for me in that stadium was in 2003 when we played the second leg of the Champions League Semi Final Vs Real Madrid and won 3-1, reaching the final, and turned around a first leg defeat….Ironically the final was in Manchester, Vs Milan. Of course, I wasn’t going to miss that game, and flew from Bergamo to Luton the morning of the game and drove straight to Manchester. That only gives you a slight indication of my dedication to following the team I love…It was a painful ending though; a 0-0 draw that went to penalties and Milan was the successful team scoring the winning penalty right in front of me and the Juve section….che dolore!!! (what pain!), especially as I had to return to Milan where I lived and worked and had my Milanese/Milanisti colleagues ready to gloat as soon as I set foot back on Italian soil.
The happiest memory, being a Juve fan, was watching the 1996 Champions League final Vs Ajax (at my parent’s house in Nottinghamshire) played in Rome. They dominated the game but it went to penalties and Juve went on to win the shoot out and take the title of the best team in Europe. The pride and emotion that evening was priceless…. Another priceless moment was one that fell on Juve’s 106th birthday – a 2-0 win Vs Brescia at the Olympic Stadium, where Juve played for 5 seasons, while the Delle Alpi was being rebuilt, into now what is the amazing Juventus stadium. I am proud to say I was there at the first home league game when they defeated Parma 4-1! Since my move to Australia last year, I continue to follow Juve as passionately as I can via the Rai Italia channel that shows most Juve games. I have become a member of the Juventus Sydney supporters club, watching games with other members in an Italian café, in Sydney’s Little Italy. I often wake up at ungodly hours, because of the time difference, to watch the games live as much as I can.
Amazingly, I have purchased tickets to watch Juve play in Sydney this coming August, where they will play a pre-season match Vs an All Stars team made up of players from the Aussie A league, which happens to include a certain Alessandro Del Piero…. I have also purchased tickets for a special dinner to commemorate the match. The guest list includes the Juve coach and some of the players. I cannot believe my luck, that 18 months after moving to the other side of the world, I will get the chance to see my heroes play in Sydney! Fino alle Fine Forza Juventus!!!!!!!