Monday morning. May 23, 2011. The night before I just watched my beloved I Bianconeri draw at home 2-2 against Napoli and finished 7th in Serie A. Again. Morale was not exactly high, so I decided to skip work and took my kid to school.
As I dropped him off, I saw a kindergarten class with their teacher was having an activity in the school garden. I don't know why but I decided to linger a bit. The teacher, a lady in her 30s, was dividing her students into several groups and to my surprise, she named the groups after football clubs.
The first four teams came up fast: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea. To be expected, as I lived in an EPL-infested country and the kids here adored Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The fifth team she mentioned, however, shocked me: "Who wants to join ... Juventus??" She made my day.
I then left and decided to visit my Dad. He hadn't been the same since his heart attack a few years ago so I phoned or visit from time to time. He smiled when I told him what happened and Juve's back-to-back 7th. He's not a football geek but he watched World Cups. We chatted and one particular sentence stayed with me until today, "There's a threat in every success and there's an opportunity in every failure."
Five days later, Barcelona beat Manchester United in London and lifted their 4th UEFA Champions League trophy, pairing it with the La Liga one they had won earlier.
May 23rd, 2012
I accompanied my parents to Singapore. Dad wanted to visit this specialist at the Mt. Elizabeth Hospital, so I went with them. He hadn't been doing any exercises, so I was happy to see that he walked for quite a distance from the hotel to the hospital or to the restaurants.
During our walk, we chatted and Juve came up. I told him that boosted by the new Juventus Stadium and the appointing of club legend Antonio Conte as head coach, we were immediately linked with "plasma TVs" Kun Aguero (Atletico Madrid) and Alexis Sanchez (Udinese). We eventually missed them all and signed Mirko Vucinic for 15m and made Alessandro Matri permanent for another €15 million.
We did much better elsewhere and got Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal and a World-Cup winner Andrea Pirlo for €20.5 million combined. We also added Martin Caceres, an ex-Barca (and also an ex-Juve) player, in the winter. The defense and midfield were sturdy but the attack was unsurprisingly dull but to Juventini's joy, we managed a huge upset and won the scudetto.
Well, he didn't say anything this time. He was busy breathing in and out
In Spain, Barcelona failed to defend both the La Liga and Champions League titles but early in the season, they won the Sanchez sweepstakes which cost them €40 million. They also leisurely spent another €40 million for Cesc Fabregas.
Three years later...
May, 23rd, 2015
"Well, how about it dad? Juve won four scudetti in a trot. We finally got our "plasma TVs" in Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente, and Alvaro Morata. And guess what? You were right. I thought we were doomed when Conte left and we signed Max Allegri. Allegri! He couldn't even win with Zlatan and Thiago Silva in the team.
But I was so wrong. He guided us to a domestic double! Only Renato Cesarini (1959/60) and Marcelo Lippi (1994/95) had done that. Incredible. The players did have something to prove but Allegri was a big part of the achievements. You're absolutely right."
Silent. I could hear my kids ran around and played in the garden but he kept his silence. Not bothered at all. You would think he'd come up with another pearl of wisdom by now.
"Wait. It gets better. We're in the Champions League final!!! Can you believe it? Against Barcelona. Remember what I told you four years ago? We had €154 million in total revenue and Barca had €450 million. It looked impossible back then to meet them at the top, but we did!
This season, we're good for 300-350m. Well, the Catalan will probably break the 500 million mark but we're closer now. Agnelli and Marotta are working miracle."
"Well, what do you think? Do we have a chance against the trident Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar? Our Andrea Barzagli (if he plays), Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are very good but this is the best trident in the world we're talking about, supported by superb attacking midfield and fullbacks."
"Gianluca Vialli thought we should park the bus but surely that trident will score against any defense in 90 minutes, won't it? Defense should be the priority but with Tevez-Morata up front and Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio in the middle, I think we should take our chances and not put the defensive line too deep."
"We're clearly the underdogs but remember that 1996 final? The defending champions Ajax Amsterdam were much superior on paper but Fabrizio Ravanelli scored an impossible goal and in the end we won in a penalty shootout. We stopped the unstoppable Ajax."
Still no answer.
"I gues we'll find out on June 6th then, Dad. I'm going home now."
I yelled my kids inside and said, "Come kids. We're going home. Say your prayers to your grandpa's ashes."