We haven't seen much of Simone Pepe on the field these last few years. Not because we hate him. It's far from that, actually. But with injuries that seemed to never going away and then a diminished role on the field, Pepe's appearances became a fraction of what they were like when he first signed with the club before the 2010-11 season.
After winning four Scudetti and making an official comeback from months upon months of missed games, Pepe's tenure with Juventus has come to an end as he will leave Turin as a free agent this summer. We know that because Pepe, the man with dolphin tattoos and about as big of a personality as you will see, himself told it to Tuttosport on Saturday.
"Emptying out my locker at Vinovo gave me a huge sense of sadness. Aside from the injury, I had five fantastic years at an incredible club. I gave my heart, soul and a leg for Juventus. The Bianconeri fans realised that and always hailed me, showering me with affection. I will always maintain that incredible rapport with the supporters. I would like to remain in Italy and am looking around at my options. I have three football ‘homes' — Teramo, Udinese and Juve."
(Source: Football Italia)
Even when he was out injured, Pepe was still a valuable player in the locker room. He's a goof, but a total leader, and that's what makes you think that he'll be heading right into coaching once his playing days are over. I mean, just the total dedication to get healthy once again after missing soooooo much time due to an injury that seemed to never go away completely just speaks to the kind of character that he had.
Sure, he was a total role player at the end of his stay with Juventus and played just 222 minutes in Serie A this season, but Pepe is one of the few players left from before this current run of four straight Scudetti and everything that has come with it. He's been a total class act throughout his Juventus career. And let us not forget that he is the one — along with Gigi Delneri, of course — that brought us the famed "SIMONEEEEEEE!!! SIMONEEEEEEE!!!" sound clips during those dark days five years or so ago.
Here's one more quote from Pepe — one of the original Beppe Marotta loan-with-option-to-buy deals — for the road.
"When Morata arrived, I immediately taught him a few Italian swearwords to get used to the games. I did the same with Pogba, but Paul already knew some because he'd learned from Federico Macheda at Manchester United."
Ah, Simone, we'll miss you and your goofy, happy-go-lucky self. May you be able to celebrate a goal like you just smashed a 300-yard drive on the golf course once again soon.