a tale of black and white

I’m still perseverating on the World Cup. Forgive me, I just had to write this entry. Last Sunday’s game was nail-biting and I’m so happy that my team won. But what everyone doesn’t know is that there is so much more to it than just the game. And that my friends, is the story of Juventus – the Italian football club that I’ve been rooting for since the mid-90’s, the same one whose future is still up in the air because of a domestic match-fixing scandal.

I remember back when I was in high school I would stay up so late just so I could watch a Juventus game live on ESPN. And while the rest of my friends were watching basketball, I was the lone football fanatic who cried when Italy was eliminated in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out against France (World Cup ’98). Heck, I even plastered my computer with wallpapers and screensavers of my Juve boys and I told everyone that one of my ‘Things To Do Before I Turn 30’ was to watch a Juventus game in Turin.

Yes, I was that (and still am) obsessed.

So you could just imagine how exciting this year’s World Cup was for me. Especially since 8 of the strongest players for both Italy and France were all from Juventus (more commonly known as bianconeri in Italia) – Canavarro, Buffon, Camoranesi, del Piero, Zambrotta, Vieira, Thuram, Trezeguet. There’s also former Juve players Perrotta, Inzaghi, Henry, and of course, France’s top player, Zidane.

Throughout these years I’ve watched them play together, both in the Italian and European leagues, and eventhough I was rooting for Italy in last Sunday’s final, it was still bittersweet to see the boys play against each other. I was even sorry for Zidane, whose brilliant career will now be forever marred by that infamous headbutt. After all, Zidane was a member of the Juventus family for 5 years and though he has long since played for Real Madrid, my memories of him will always be of those glorious days when he and Alex were leading Juve to win the European Championship League. Perhaps Gianluigi Buffon (Italy’s goalkeeper) felt the same way, for he was seen comforting Zidane as he walked off the pitch following his red card, tenderly stroking the Frenchman’s head. It may be the World Cup final, but these two share a history, and as they say, once a bianconeri, always a bianconeri.

Sometime next week, Juventus and the rest of the Italian Serie A clubs will be sentenced. And some of the boys may have to give up their black and white jerseys to play for a different team. This is heartbreaking, but such is life. I can only console myself with the fact that, at least, the players that I’ve admired all these years made such a great impact on the world’s most important football tournament. Even a sports writer from the London Times recognized this when he wrote:

“Italy won their fourth World Cup last night with a Juventus backbone, beating a France side whose spine was equally black and white.”

I’ve never been this proud to be a Juventus fan.


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