March 27, 2023

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At Juventus we win, not just get paid! How Giovanni Trapattoni created a masterpiece in Turin

Before Boniperti came to the chair of the President of Juventus, in Italy, although he accepted the success of the Turin team, few people in Europe took seriously the great ambitions of Juventus in the international field. It was a unique period when one person led the whole structure through the hands of another: this is exactly what the tandem of two opposites Agnelli and Boniperti looked like. It is during this period that the most grandiose events in the history of the club and a whole scattering of trophies obtained by sweat and blood (in the truest sense of the word) fall out. And the fact that today the favoritism of Juventus is taken for granted, at the time of Calcio’s ascent, it was far from the most obvious. To bring to life the reference Juventus lacked the right coach. And Giampiero found the right candidate at the right time – Giovanni Trapattoni took over and jumped so high that years later he could not even closely repeat his own success. This is the story of Juventus’ transformation from an Italian team to a European champion through the hands of the most successful coach in the club’s history.

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Champion is not forever.

The hegemony of any club sooner or later comes to an end. People change, opponents get stronger, coaches leave, football develops and moves forward. Most often, fans tend to consider the frequent change of the winner of any championship as a sign of the quality of the tournament itself, where each club is somehow ready to challenge for the throne and win. In Italy, over the course of a century, the so-called tripartite power has been formed – Juventus , Milan and Interwere so ahead of their competitors in development that they invariably returned to the podium after several years of inactivity. Rare exceptions in the person of Naples or Rome only confirmed the simple rule – in Italy you either win for one of the designated clubs, or become the hero of the local team at most. Nevertheless, any cycle comes to an end and each subsequent time loop presents its own surprises.

Giovanni Trapattoni stepped into the black-and-white river twice and only once managed to get out as a hero. This is evidence of how quickly football makes its own adjustments and even a seemingly right recipe for success here can lead to defeat. And yet, the return to the camp of Juventus was the key to the formation of a platform for future victories, albeit without Giovanni himself. It was Trapattoni who laid the realization in the mentality of the club that from now on Juventus are victories. Years without trophies, offensive defeats, the success of rivals – all this will sooner or later lead to the inevitable championship of Juventus.

In the biography of the captain and later coach of the club, Antonio Conte, there is a chapter dedicated to the terrible 1993/94 season, when Trapattoni ingloriously left the team, and Milan with Fabio Capello took everything they could. What is remarkable about her – Conte was not impressed by the fact of trophies, success and expensive cars from the owners. In Juventus, even the walls breathed victory. Here they suffered from this and only went out on the field to win. This spirit of eternal striving to be the first is so deeply rooted in the club that even the fall of the creator of this spirit could no longer shake the mood of the incoming players.

Born in war and hardened in defense.

Giovanni did not see the war, but lived through it in its entirety. Born on March 17, 1939, little Gianni had to associate his childhood with anti-aircraft installations in the yard and frequent explosions in the distance for the rest of his life. The immortal Trap shares his first memory in life reluctantly, with fear. Parents did not let out of the house, and food was sorely lacking. Looking out the window, Gianni saw a soldier in a gray uniform leaning against a tree and lighting a freshly rolled cigarette. He, noticing the boy in the window, waved his hand and beckoned to him. The boy, without fear or suspicion, calmly went out into the street and heard in German, which was now constantly heard from everywhere, the question of age. Giovanni shyly gestured four with his fingers and received a small candy bar in a greasy package.

In the evening, parents asked a first-class beating when they saw a wrapper in their pocket, but Trapattoni simply did not understand what he was risking – it was the first sweetness in his life and there was simply no fear against the background of what was happening around. Why be afraid when every day parents only talk about someone’s death or incomprehensible battles on the distant front. But Gianni was six years old, the war was over. The family went to Bergamo to look at the outlandish visiting American tanks, where the tankers laughingly showered sweets on children and compliments on young ladies. The heavy load that hung over the suburbs of Milan came to naught and it was as if breathing became easier. Trapattoni’s father, Francesco, laughed more and more often, and mother Romilda, gaining strength from nowhere, sat in the fields until late at night,

The boys were drawn to the fresh air, and for Giovanni, his father asked the neighbors, who had slaughtered a pig the day before, a bladder. After gutting and drying it, Francesco sewed for his son the first semblance of a soccer ball, which then, stuffed with cloth and old burlap, kicked very well in the yard. And even in peacetime, the family had enough of their hardships and sorrows. After another walk with the ball, Giovanni heard from his parents in the evening that his older sister Maria was leaving home for the monastery. The family is now one mouth smaller and much easier in terms of money, but Romilda could not stop her tears in any way and spent the whole night in her arms with her daughter. Little Trapattoni, due to his age, did not see this as a tragedy and thought more about school and friends.

The main extracurricular activity for young people was street football. It was not uncommon to see a well-dressed gentleman on the benches along with the smoking old men, who looked out for talented guys and invited them to try their hand at local junior football schools. Gianni was noticed during such a run and was called to Cusano-Milanino, where the academy coach from Milan was often present at the games of the local amateur club, suddenly he would like the boy. So at the age of 14, Giovanni got into the football school of Milan, risking a trip to no one knows where for the sake of a conversation with a stranger named Malateste, who forced him to perform a number of difficult tricks and run in training with a team of Cripp brothers, whose games he came to watch. Trapattoni was not surprised by the speed, however, in the position of a defender, he managed to fill up the main scorer Cusano-Milanino on the lawn, who, not only was a head taller, but also kicked the scoundrel well for such a dangerous reception in the soft spot. Malateste laughed at the tomboy and wrote down his name on the list of candidates for a place in the school.

Six difficult years at the academy turned a daring boy into the same daring young man who was not afraid to go to the joints and provoke an opponent to break the rules out of the blue. In June 1958, Milan announced his pupil to play in the first team for an ordinary Coppa Italia match against little Como, but Milan’s crushing victory with a score of 4: 1 did not bypass the journalists. The name of the young defender was placed in the heading about the triumph of the Milanese team, which raised a future star for itself, and they wrote it with a mistake that archivists and biographers will often make in the future – instead of two letters T, they indicated a double P.

The entry into the squad was a surprise for Giovanni, he did not expect this at all and found out about entering the field an hour before the match. He did not have time to warn his parents, so they did not see his son’s debut match in professional football. Just three days later, Gianni’s father died, tormented by indignation at the fact that he had missed such an event. As a result, Francesco never saw his Giovanni on the field.

Trapattoni intended to quit football and go to work to support his family after the loss of his main breadwinner. Malatesta stood in a pose and did not let go of the talented young man, but Giovanni insisted that his mother, due to poor health, could no longer work, two sisters and a brother left the house and created their own families with children who needed to be provided, and Maria still remained the abbess in the monastery without money or opportunity. AC Milan signed Trapattoni to a new contract with a significant salary increase to keep him in football.