It’s far from a secret that Juventus are the second most important team in their home city of Turin. At the same time, in Italy and abroad, it is Juve that is the main size and concentration of fans’ love. And yet, in the Piedmont district, the Torino team is much more loved than the rich from Juventus. The arrival of Pietro Anastasi became one of the main catalysts for the spread of popular love for Juventus towards the South of the country, and also was a consequence of Agnelli’s focus on asserting FIAT’s position as one of the main assets of all of Italy. A situation where a transfer means much more than the player himself.
Talent from Catania.
Here we will go over the key stages of the growth of the future star of Italy. It all started in the spirit of Hollywood biopics about the life and growing up of every popular football player of the twentieth century. Baby Pietro was born on April 7, 1948 in post-war Italy in a small village near Catania. The Anastasi family suffered from poverty, as well as from the abundance of hungry mouths (seven children). Nevertheless, the father worked day and night, trying to give his children at least a fraction of hope to escape from the hopeless haze of lack of money and despondency.
But Pietro avoided studying and was only interested in football. The lack of money and, as a result, even shoes did not stop Anastasi at all – he drove around the field and barefoot, often knocking out his toes. He skipped classes and constantly preferred football until late at night to the other meager joys of his childhood. His nature did not deprive him of talent, so the Massimino family took the boy to play – father Giuseppe and his seven sons put together a Massiminian team, which took the most talented children of the village and surrounding settlements. It is worth noting that this small family project turned out to be extremely successful in fact, because Massiminiana managed to break into the Serie D division largely thanks to the rapidly growing and talented Anastasi. The Massimino brothers nicknamed their partner Pietruchio the Turkbecause of his swarthy skin, which gives him a resemblance to the inhabitants of the east, rather than to his Italian neighbors. The nickname stayed with Anastasi for the rest of his career.
The further fate of Pietro resembled a winding serpentine road, where each blind turn was sharp, but the final passage of the route caused delight. He did not attract the attention of the top Serie A clubs, and virtually no one outside the second division had heard of him. But one day, Alfredo Casati, one of the scouts of the Varese club, came to Sicily on his personal business, and there he heard enthusiastic rumors about how a certain boy with supposedly divine talent. In the evening, a representative of Varese went to the match, and a couple of days later he took Anastasi with him.
Here Pietruchio the Turk pulled out a lucky ticket. Varese perfectly unleashed the potential of the Italian goalscorer and Anastasi immediately managed to win over the local fans and become the leader of the team. 6 goals in his debut season and a Serie B win – Pietro was already a hero. Further – more, seventh place in Serie A the very next year, 11 goals per season, victories over Milan, Inter and Juventus (the latter received three goals from his future star). Ahead of the football player lay the road to a wonderful future.
Interaction between North and South.
On this we will briefly interrupt the story about the football player and take a look at Italy itself in those years. The post-war stage was not easy for the Apennines. Cities were destroyed, production was virtually destroyed, the economy was at its lowest point. Poverty, hunger and total unemployment flourish in the regions. The famous Marshall Plan and almost one and a half billion dollars of investments were called to correct the situation, but the funds were not distributed evenly.
Of course, first of all, the authorities began to restore industry, including for the organization of jobs, because the northern cities were rebuilt first. Southern Italy remained in ruins for another five years while the North received subsidies. This led to the economic recovery of the country as a whole, but the social and economic stratification increased several times. The South was increasingly becoming an agrarian appendage of the North and a permanent supplier of cheap labor. This is how the precedent of large-scale migration towards industrial regions arose, which is why the term “Train of the Sun” even appeared in Italy – these are the railway routes along which the southerners followed to work.
FIAT remained the main enterprise of the country. It was the brainchild of Agnelli that received the largest part of state support and, as a result, refugees from Sicily mostly made their way there. It is no secret that at the turn of the 1950s, it was migrants who flooded Turin, quickly making it a city with a population of more than 1 million people, giving rise to a huge number of ghetto workers in the vicinity and depriving local residents of a significant part of their jobs, since migrants were ready to work hard for pennies.
Thus, the Agnelli plant gradually turned into a haven for runaway migrants from the southern regions, who are ready to work day and night for low wages, absorbing the spirit of the industrial North and elements of elite life. Of course, every self-respecting Italian, regardless of place of residence, adored local football. FIAT workers frequented matches in Turin, and Juventus’ ownership of their factory helped them pick a team to cheer for every week. Often, the Sicilians and the inhabitants of Calabria returned home to their relatives, already being firmly connected by fan ties with the black and white signora.
This explains the love of the natives of the northern capital of Italy for the native team of Torino, rather than for the club, whose owner flooded the city with migrants. Often, to this day, at the Olimpico stadium, one can notice insulting banners of Torino fans in the direction of Juventus, accusing the club of foreignness and the absence of Turin roots in principle. However, Agnelli has always strived to go beyond the confines of a city or region, building a growth strategy on a much more global scale. Seeing how much love for Juventus has grown stronger in the South, Gianni Agnelli began to encourage this love by issuing transfers of the representatives of Sardinia and Sicily Cuccuredu and Furino.
But not everything went smoothly in the kingdom of Agnelli. At the native enterprise, discontent began to ripen due to the lack of wage growth and poor working conditions, despite the fact that in neighboring France and Switzerland, industrialists were getting richer and dragging the working class with them. Gianni fired most of the company’s leaders, replacing them with managers whose duty, among other things, was to provide feedback to workers and gradually improve their well-being against the backdrop of large-scale globalization of production. And so that the workers would not revolt during the reform period, Agnelli made a knight’s move and arranged the transfer of the main Sicilian hope and sensation at that time – Pietro Anastasi. And so we return to Pietruchio the Turk, who has just turned 20 years old.
The record transfer took place thanks to … refrigerators?
The genius from Varese was heard throughout the country after a great debut season in Serie A. The first contact with the president of the club was Inter, who dreamed of getting a future celebrity as soon as possible. For the sake of such a transition, the Milanese did not skimp and offered a record amount for the entire world football of 620 million lire. The matter remained small – to shake hands, sign and collect a suitcase for Pietro, but Gianni Agnelli got in touch.
The fact is that the FIAT factories of the president of the Turin club supplied compresses for the Ignis refrigerators of the president of Varese, Giovanni Borchi. Given the problems with the supply of the necessary equipment from abroad and the virtual monopolization of the local market by Agnelli’s forces, Borhi was aware of the danger of refusing to cooperate with Gianni. Therefore, Inter returned home with nothing, and Juventus took Sicily’s main hope. To be honest, the owner of Juve did not stint and paid exactly the same amount that Inter offered – 620 million lire.
Thus, Agnelli actually conquered the entire fanatic South of the country, for whom Anastasi was not just a local native – he was a symbol of the fact that even a simple boy is able to break out to the very top and become the best of the best. And the idea that the Sicilian will conquer the northern football capital was completely enthralling. Cards with a photo of Pietro in the form of Juventus flooded Sicily, Calabria, Campania and Sardinia. Before the strengthening of Napoli and the arrival of Maradona, it was Juventus, along with Anastasi, who were the main football love of local residents of southern cities. It’s hard to even imagine this now.
But here the hype subsided, gray everyday life came. It was extremely difficult for the young man to move to cold Turin, where almost every day he was touched by locals with a call to roll back to where he came from. Stereotypes and class differences have not been canceled. Nevertheless, there was also a bright side – there were also a lot of migrants on the streets and, on the contrary, they were ready to lift Pietro the Turk to Olympus and support him in any situation. But the difficulties were not limited to the streets – adaptation became more complicated at the level of compliance with Juventus itself. Not accustomed to officialdom, Pietro came to the first meeting with the management in a T-shirt over trousers, which is why he received a reprimand from club president Vittore Catella: “The next time you come here, be kind enough to wear a shirt and tie”, This confused the player, and on all subsequent visits he was always in a tie. This was the new world of elite football, where absolutely everything matters.
On the field, too, there was a fear of inconsistency. Pietro could not absorb the overly complex coaching guidelines from coach Heriberto Herrera, who took to the fashion to focus on Pietro’s lack of secondary education and his inability to even finish reading the tactical analysis under his authorship. This affected the game of Anastasi, who at first was too afraid to show his usual football so as not to go beyond Herrera’s incomprehensible schemes. And again, fate played for Pietro – Giampiero Boniperti, who was known for his dictation in the locker room, but also for his incredible flair towards real talent, ascended the bridge of the club’s leadership. His approach fixed everything.
First of all, the role of a freelance artist in the area near the penalty area was determined for Pietro. As an antipode to establish a balance, Roberto Bettega was put in pair with the player – a tactically emasculated scorer, sharpened to attack like a robot. Such bright opposites eventually became an incredible duet in terms of performance, which also worked with the following coaches in the person of Vytspalek and Parolo. From the illiterate fool, whom Anastasi Herrera dubbed, a new nickname came – white Pele. Three Scudettos and the Champions Cup final were the logical outcome of the excellent game of the Sicilian hope.
It is ironic that with such a high performance, Pietro never became the top scorer of the Italian championship. He was second, third, fifth, but never first. At the same time, Anastasi is among the top ten scorers of Juventus in history with a score of 130 goals scored. He appears in almost all national lists of record holders, and yet the title of top scorer of one season remained unavailable to him.
End of career.
With coach Carlo Parolo, despite a fairly successful game, Anastasi seriously quarreled. The coach later expressed the idea that the star football player gnawed out the team from the inside, not showing enough respect for others. The player himself answered delicately and diplomatically: I left the team because I had a dispute with Parola, but I will always remain on the best terms with the club. I will always remain a tiffozi of Juventus.
So in 1976, Juventus exchanged Anastasi for Roberto Boniceno from Inter, forcing the latter to pay an extra 100 million lire on top. This stage was extremely unsuccessful for Pietro – only nine goals in fifty games and a victory in the Italian Cup. After two seasons at Inter, Anastasi moves to the modest Ascoli, and ends his career in the Swiss Lugano in 1982. So rather clumsily ended his great journey, the boy, who once gave the whole South the hope that absolutely everything is possible. At the end of his football career, Anastasi had a coaching license in his hands, but in order to start coaching, he had to leave Varese for a long time, the city in which he settled, where he met his wife Anna, in which his two sons were born. Probably, Pietro simply did not have enough spiritual strength for a long separation from loved ones, which was already in abundance in the days of glory. The only thing that connected him with football from now on was several years of work as a TV commentator on several Italian channels.
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