I have a confession to make: Up until college, the amount of minutes I spent on the internet could probably be counted by single digits. It was minimal, if anything, which means my Juventus interest didn’t truly kick into gear until the wonderful life of a freshman in the dorms in the fall of 2004. Blame it on dial-up, blame it on parents who didn’t exactly have what we call now “new technology” in a household with a teenager.
It was also during my early college years when I discovered eBay.
Oh, what glorious foreign market for Juventus jerseys were there once I had saved up just enough to do a little bit of damage and not have to worry about having enough cash for books in a few weeks.
Those of you who know my Juventus origin fan story know that it is solely because of one guy and one guy only. So, because of that, you might have though that the first Juventus jersey that I ever purchased on the eBay machine was a fancy Juventus goalkeeper kit with a No. 1 and “Buffon” on the back.
Au contraire mon frere.
The first jersey I ever bought? An Alessandro Del Piero No. 10 from Juventus’ one season in Serie B. It might not fit all that well anymore — yeah, not exactly the same kind of “fit” right now than the guy who was in his early-20s more than a decade later, folks — but it’s the one that started a Juve jersey collection that is the reason why my work clothes and my soccer fits are in two different closets at my house.
(It should have also taught me who to actually get when it comes to personalized jerseys. More on that later this week, so be patient.)
It represents some of the darkest times in Juventus’ recent history, a sudden demotion to Italy’s second flight after some incredibly controversial happenings. It’s been quite a while since those games were played, but it’s still quite memorable even though we’re currently in the midst of Juventus’ greatest run of domestic dominance over the past decade.
Regardless of the context around it, it’s also just a beautiful jersey.
Seriously. Look at it. Look at the stripes. Look at that wonderful collar.
But, the context that comes with the jersey is hard to ignore.
So much of that season was about the comeback, the recovery from what had just happened over the summer. (Yes, even as all of Italy still basked in the glory that was the 2006 World Cup and the win in Germany.) It was about getting back to where Juventus once was — not in terms of being the best team in Serie A, but just making sure the stay in Serie B was as short as it could possibly be.
And, honestly, that’s a big reason why I wanted to buy it. Who better to have on the back of it, too?
Since the jersey is a little ... snug these days, it isn’t one that I can still rock out in public — you know, when going out in public is allowed again — but for pure sentimental value. As much as that Serie B season might seem like quite a few years ago, it is still something that is fresh in a lot of people’s minds. But it is also the kind of monumental event that showed us the likes of Del Piero, Buffon, David Trezeguet, Giorgio Chiellini and Pavel Nedved — all players who were still very much in the prime of their careers or about to get there — were willing to choose the club over their own personal gain. That, of course, resulted in them having a special place in our heart no matter what they went on to achieve during their careers in bianconero. It’s also the kind of monumental event that, for many of us, introduced us to somebody like Claudio Marchisio for the first time after a fantastic rise up Juve’s youth ranks.
It’s that kind of stuff as to why this jersey is important to me — and why this being the first jersey I ever bought with my own money was worth the risk of sometimes-questionable eBay shopping. You never REALLY know what you’re going to get until you get it.