What a bittersweet final day for Juve fans as their side got to lift the Scudetto and beat Atalanta, 3-1 in the season’s last match. It was also the last day for Alessandro Del Piero, their talismanic striker, who spent almost his entire career at the Old Lady, spanning 19 years.
Del Piero made 704 appearances and scored 298 goals becoming the club’s top scorer. Against Atalanta he bowed out in style scoring the second goal and was subbed off in the second half as an emotional Juve stadium kept giving him a standing ovation after another for the remainder of the match. Not a dry eye to be found.
There are very few left in the sport for whom the pride taken in playing for one club trumps every other consideration. Del Piero wore his Juve heart out on his sleeve. He was also a goal manufacturer par excellence. No two goals Del Piero scored were alike. This article celebrates the extra-ordinary talent of ‘Il Pinturicchio’, the Little Painter who painted his canvas of goals with such artistic flair.
One cannot forget with the distraction of the Calciopoli scandal swirling around, Del Piero along with Gianluca Zambrotta returned to Italy in the midst of their 2006 World Cup campaign to be with Gianluca Pessotto, his Juve colleague who was seriously injured after falling out of an office window in what many think to be attempted suicide. He then came back to score Italy’s second goal in the semi-finals against Germany. In the final match he put Italy on top in the PK shootout coolly slotting his attempt.
This season wasn’t just Del Piero’s swansong. A generation of Serie talismans are retiring including Pippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, and Clarence Seedorf. It will be unsettling to not see these familiar faces we have grown old with on the pitch when next season rolls around. The Serie was the exception to the no league for old men. Truly an era is ending.