The name? Simone Pepe. His game? One that is based on team work, using his bundles of energy, staggering work rate and the never-say-die attitude than on flair, fancy footwork that you’d associate with a run-of-the-mill winger in Europe’s current footballing climate. It is these attributes that he possesses that has often made him the ‘Jack of all trades’ for Juventus and for the Azzurri, but at the same time, he’s been a ‘Master of none’ in the eyes of most Bianconeri, well until this season started that is.
In what was a summer of radical change at Juventus that saw a former footballing hero Antonio Conte take charge at his old stomping ground in Turin and with him began a new era of trying to return Juventus to her former glory. Pepe was signed permanently for €7.5 million as a part of that plan, something that was met with derision among Juventus fans and out rightly ridiculed by some rivals for paying too much for a player that seemed far from the quality desired in a Juventus winger, while some others saw him as a potential bargain tool to get a world class player to Turin. However neither of the two scenario’s have come to fruition though as Pepe has gone on and established himself as a vital cog in Conte’s Juventus.
Since his permanent switch to the Juventus Stadium this summer, Pepe has not only managed to oust a struggling Milos Krasic from his favoured right wing position, he has actually gone one better to give some outstanding displays and goals in what might eventually turn out to be critical results in the larger scheme of things for Juve this season. Looking back, the equalizer against Napoli away from home or the winner against Lazio could well turn out to be results that tilt the Scudetto towards Juventus.
The critics might still be reluctant to cut him the slack based on past notions for not being creative enough, but this present term Pepe with his effervescent displays, the will to succeed, putting in crucial tackles and most importantly decisive goals and assists down the flank have solidified him as a crucial part of today’s Juventus. And with continued speculation regarding Krasic’s future, chances are that Pepe’s involvement with the first team would continue for some time to come, whether it is on the right wing or in complementing Krasic on the left, is another matter.
Besides, what adds further value to Simone Pepe’s importance at Juventus is his much desired versatility to suit the demands of the team, a trait that has seen him play fullback in the past and even now he could well be a more reliable option for Juve to act as backup for the ever impressive Swiss full back Stephan Lichtsteiner if the need be rather than gambling on the erroneous clumsy oaf Marco Motta, for Pepe is much more disciplined and his work rate and experience could work better, again only if there is a need for it.
Regardless of where he plays though, one thing that Juventus and her fans can be assured of is the fact that when Super Pepe steps onto the pitch, he’ll give it his all for the jersey with even more lung bursting displays for the club’s cause. And in this era of nauseating and abominable attitude by the players, Pepe is one of the rare breed who would still be standing for his manager, true to the cause of his club and play with passion up his sleeve.
Looking back at it all, Antonio Conte’s insistence on having Pepe in the squad than to sell him off to Russian shores of St. Petersburg, has surely turned a corner for the Roman native who has turned into unarguably Juventus’ most improved player and for the fan’s sake and indeed his own, here’s hoping he can keep his form going and star not just for Juventus but also for Azzurri at next year’s European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
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