Hansen the hero as Juve humble Torino

Thrashings had unfolded in the Derby della Mole heading into its instalment 60 years ago to this Friday. There was the 8-0 in 1912, a 7-2 two years later, and a 5-0 in 1944. All of those were, nevertheless, in favour of Torino, and two had occurred in Juventus’s own home.

That’s where the teams headed for their second meeting of the 1951/52 Serie A, with the first having ended 0-0. The pressure was on Juve, who had been held to a goalless draw by lowly Lucchese last time out and had had their lead at the summit shaved to just two points earlier that day by in-form defending champions AC Milan. Torino, despite being ravaged by the Superga Air Disaster just three years earlier, were buoyed by a 5-2 defeat of Triestina in their previous match and determined to handicap their arch-rivals’ title hopes.

One man who commanded much of the pre-match talk was John Hansen – and not just because he was leading fellow foreign goal machines Gunnar Nordahl, Istvan Nyers and Hasse Jeppson, of AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atalanta respectively, in the Capocannoniere race. After scoring four goals in Denmark’s 5-3 victory over Italy in their Men’s Olympic Football Tournament quarter-final in 1948, Hansen was fervently coveted by a host of Italian clubs. Torino, whose exceptional side had just won a fourth straight Scudetto, were the heavy favourites to land his signature and the hulking forward duly agreed to join them.

However, while I Granata were patiently waiting to tie up the loose ends of the deal, Juventus’s painstakingly passionate owner Gianni Agnelli secretly made Hansen a more lucrative offer that he was asked to sign on the spot or pass up. He signed.

The Copenhagen native, who had thereafter proven an incessant nemesis to Torino, most showed them what they missed out on that Sunday. The then 27-year-old scored twice – one with a superb piledriver and the other with a trademark header – and was involved in three of his side’s other goals as they recorded an emphatic 6-0 victory. Giampiero Boniperti, a career one-club man, also netted twice, while Pasquale Vivolo and another Dane, Karl Aage Hansen, got the other goals in what remains Juve’s biggest-ever win in the Turin Derby.

Agnelli’s decision to snatch John Hansen from Torino’s grasp in 1948 was vindicated in the boldest of fonts on that 20 April 1952 - and another one the Juventus boss made heading into that campaign. Then coach Jesse Carver had a dispute with Hansen and demanded the club sell him. Instead, I Bianconeri decided it was better to sack a man who had masterminded their first Serie A conquest in 15 years.

Justification was undisputable. Hansen finished 1951/52 as Serie A’s 30-goal leading marksman. Juventus finished it with the title, moving them level with Genoa as the joint-record nine-time champions.