Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Addition-When Calcio Ruled the Football World-A Personal Journey-Part One (1982/83)

My introduction to the World of Soccer occurred during the 1982 World Cup.
As the months passed my interest grew stronger and stronger.
I was still unexposed to the world of club soccer, however, in the months following the World Cup and into the Fall I started paying more attention to club matches shown on Television, as well as highlights of matches shown.
More often than not these involved the English, West German, Dutch, Italian, French and Spanish Leagues.

Photo From: Guerin Sportivo, April 20-27, 1983
(Dino Zoff, April 10, 1983, Juventus 5-Ascoli 0)

I was slowly able to match the names I had learned during the World Cup with the clubs they played for.
Little by little, I noticed Bruno Conti was playing for a team called AS Roma with Brazil’s Falcao as a teammate and Giancarlo Antognoni played for a team called Fiorentina.
To my amazement I learned of a team named Juventus that not only practically contained every Italian National Team player that I had learned over the summer (Zoff, Gentile, Scirea, Cabrini, Tardelli, Rossi), but also France’s Michel Platini and Poland’s Zbigniew Boniek.
To me it seemed unreal that so many national team players were all in one club.
By springtime my interest had developed to such a point that I started buying specialized Sports magazines to follow the teams and the scores.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 82, October 1982
(Michel Platini at Juventus, 1982/83)

In the days before wall to wall Television coverage and the internet, the ritual of waiting every week in anticipation to get the latest local Sports Magazine to get the scores and news would remain with me for the decades to come passing through different countries.
Again the bulk of the coverage was on the top European Leagues and I was slowly discovering that the Italian Serie A was THE Top League with the most prestige and stars.
I became a fan of Juventus due to the fact that I actually recognized most of the players.
By the time I started actively following scores and table positions, the season was in full swing and past the halfway mark. By this point AS Roma were League leaders on their way to claim their first title since 1942.
The team behind them was a surprising newly promoted team called Verona and Alessandro Altobelli’s Internazionale Milano (In print the team was always referred as Inter Milan).

Photo From: Mondial, new series, Issue 36, March 1983
(AS Roma’s Bruno Conti)

Again I was surprised to learn that West Germany’s Hansi Muller that I had discovered during the World Cup was playing for Inter.
Juventus were a distant fourth and were by all accounts having a poor season.
However, a victory vs. League leaders AS Roma (2 to 1) changed things around and from then on Juventus started winning match after match with Platini in superb form.
They overtook Verona and Inter and established themselves in the second position, but their deficit over Roma was too great to overcome and Roma deservedly won the Serie A title.
In the years to come I would learn the names of key AS Roma players such as Roberto Pruzzo, Sebastiano Nela and Agostino di Bartolomei, but for now their names were still foreign to me as I was still familiarizing myself with this newfound interest and back in those days magazines just printed the scores and not team lineups.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, Issue 36, March 1983
(AS Roma’s Falcao)

I did not even know any coaches at the time, but soon enough the names of Nils Liedholm and Giovanni Trapattoni would be familiar.
Juventus did gain some consolation by winning the Italian Cup at the expense of Verona. But in time I would to learn the unimportance of this competition with matches played before the season had started and the Final (two legged) played after the League season had ended.
One thing was sure, Juventus was going to be my club to support in Italy and I could not wait for the following season (1983/84) to start.


  1. We share the same roots, my friend :-) I was 8 when Italy won the World Cup, and Juventus became immediately my favorite team. Never regretted that choice, even in the bad years (1986-1991).

    1. right, you were lucky enough to be living right in the middle of it al


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