Juve celebrate new stadium
Juventus inaugurated their ground-breaking new stadium with a 1-1 draw against Notts County during a night of celebration on Thursday.
The English League One side, the oldest professional club in the world having been founded in 1862, were the guests as a mark of thanks for their historic link with the hosts. That began back in 1903 when a Juventus player, Englishman John Savage, helped to arrange for the Italian club to wear the Magpies' black and white stripes. Until then Juve had worn a pink shirt but they were growing frustrated by the kit's habit of losing it's colour and having to be replaced, a costly process back in those days.
The night began with a 114 second countdown, denoting the number of years the Old Lady of Turin has been in existence since it was formed by students from the Liceo D'Azeglio in 1897. "Welcome home! We're tens of millions around the world, millions in Italy and hundreds of thousands in the city," said an emotional club president Andrea Agnelli, whose family have had a long history with the club.
"We're a people who know how to enjoy ourselves, how to suffer, to grit our teeth, we're the people of Juve. We're people who recognise and know how to accept results achieved on a green pitch such as this one, with lines that don't lie because the pitch always tells the truth."
The €122 million 41,000-seater stadium was packed to the rafters, showcasing the first such ground in Italy to be privately owned by a club. It's a ground that Juve hope will revolutionise the match-day experience for fans and which the club hopes will also encourage far greater numbers to turn up than has been the case since they moved to the Stadio Delle Alpi from the old Stadio Comunale in 1990.
The occasion was also used to remember the 39 victims of the Heysel Stadium disaster as well as former Juve legend Gaetano Scirea.
There were also appearances from some of the club's oldest living ex-players, such as 91-year-old former goalkeeper Lucidio Sentimenti IV. There was even an appearance from a figure older still, the bench on which were sitting the students who founded the club. It descended from the sky with the two greatest goalscorers in Juve's history upon it.
"I'm here after 67 years to give you all a hug. Winning isn't important, it's the only thing that counts," said 83-year-old Giampiero Boniperti. He had been Juve's greatest ever goalscorer for 50 years until current club captain Alessandro Del Piero overtook him.
"I'm delighted to have contributed to writing a part of the 114 years of history, of fantastic pages and memories," said Del Piero before the fireworks began.
On the pitch there were far fewer sparks as the most decorated side in Italy - they have 27 Scudetto crowns - were held to a 1-1 draw by the English minnows. 2006 FIFA World Cup™ winning forward Luca Toni gave Juve a 53rd-minute lead but former West Brom forward Lee Hughes scored an equaliser three minutes from time.