The story of ‘Il Capitano’ del Piero: 700 down and just 7 to go?

The final goodbye?

Zoom back in time. It’s summer of 1993 and  a dreamy eyed boy’s been signed up by the Turin giants Juventus from Serie B minnows Padova. That boy was Alessandro del Piero, right at the start of his great football journey with Italy’s most successful club through some incredible highs that  included a Champions League victory to some utterly infernal lows, none more so than the forced relegation of Juventus for the first time in their history as a direct consequence of the infamous Calciopoli. That boy has since progressed into a demi-god like existence for the fans having been the club’s greatest protagonist for the best part of two decades.

The legacy of Alessandro del Piero has already been defined at the Bianconeri, and his trademark runs drifting from the left and curling the ball past the hapless goalkeepers from the ‘del Piero Zone’ is sure to be a part of Juventus folklore for generations to come. Not that any of these seven remaining games- six in the Serie A and the Coppa Italia final would in any way affect Il Pinturicchio’s standing on the fans in the Curva Scirea or on the fans worldwide, but his recent form against direct rivals should warrant an extension if one deploys sane worldly logic, like the goal against Inter to seal the Derby d’Italia or the goal versus Milan to seal Coppa Italia progression and none more so than his performance against Lazio last gameweek. Each one of these contributions has been crucial in defining Juventus’ season this term.

The Legends: del Piero and Nedved.

It’s difficult to find words to describe Del Piero. He has been playing for Juve for about 20 years ‒ he is the history of this club.When anybody in the world says the word ‘Juve’, they have a picture of Del Piero in mind. I think that says it all.

-Pavel Nedved

Against Lazio, Juventus had earned a lion’s share of possession and had been the more dominant team on the pitch but the scoreline still read 1-1 as the Bianconeri seemed headed for another dreaded draw and that familiar sinking feeling. That, until Alessandro del Piero was brought in from the bench for his 700th appearance in the black-and-white of Juventus and in the cameo that he played, del Piero guided home a trademark freekick from just outside the area into the bottom left corner of the goal to break the stalemate and put the Bianconeri firmly in control of their own destiny of winning the Scudetto, what would be their first after the Calciopoli nightmare.

Il Capitano’s future has been in discussion among the Bianconeri faithful ever since Andrea Agnelli declared the news of this campaign being the last for del Piero, but never has there been a greater need of a contract extension for a Juventus player as there is now. Andrea Agnelli might bank on the ‘Agnelli’ in his surname or the presence of club favourite Antonio Conte as coach to evade the wrath of the fans if he does indeed gets rid of del Piero, but if performances were used as a retort, Agnelli is losing the battle and del Piero should be allowed to leave on his own terms in his own time and what is certain that that time is still a bit away as ADP continues to provide a fruitful contribution to Juventus.

That statement by Agnelli might have been a case of misplaced judgement and a too premature, and as the calls for the club to reconsider their decision regarding Alessandro del Piero grow louder, the very least the fans deserve is to know the reason as to why such a hasty announcement regarding del Piero was made in the first place. And even though, Beppe Marotta has refuted rumours about the signing of Milan duo of Clarence Seedorf and Alessandro Nesta in recent weeks but if at any point during the season these two were considered as potential signings despite being 36 years of age, why hasn’t del Piero figured in Agnelli and Marotta’s plans for next year?

I know him as a person and he is a great guy. He would still be very useful for Juventus, even if he doesn’t always play. The Juve directors have to understand that he still has plenty to offer.

-Luciano Moggi

It might be worth arguing that Alessandro del Piero might not be the same player that he was a decade ago, nor does he have the legs to play 90 minutes week in week out. But what he does have is the class that has helped him get at the very best defenders for the best part of two decades while playing for Juventus. Among a crop of profligate strikers, where none barring Matri are into double figures for the season, del Piero is that one impact player that can be effectively and efficiently used for making an impact by creating or scoring a goal late on in a game. His ability with the ball at his feet is what has still not been taken away from him despite his age, and that is exactly what Juve requires in the Scudetto run-in and would need in the Champions League next season, of which del Piero is a proven master.

 

As time passes by towards the start of next round of fixtures, the match between Juventus and Roma might be the last time that Francesco Totti and Alessandro del Piero, two galacticos of Italian football, are seen on the same pitch strutting their stuff, a shuddering thought for all concerned with the Calcio. As for Juventus and del Piero, come the end of the season they could well be lifting a famous double of the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia in seven games’ time, their first pieces of silverware since Calciopoli and should they look back, the man who turned the tide back in their favour was none other than their immortal hero Alessandro del Piero.

It would be del Piero who shall lift the trophies should they be won, and there would be no one who’d deserve to win it more than him for leading Juventus’ revival from the dark realms of the Calciopoli and the very least he deserves from the club’s hierarchy is to be allowed to retire on his own terms unlike other Calciopoli heroes- Cameronesi,Legrotagglie and Trezeguet who were all shunted out. Surely it’s time for Agnelli and the club to accept their mistake and let del Piero continue on his own terms for atleast another season.

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