Article by David Temple – Follow @dmjuve
In the summer of 2006 the Italian national team won its fourth World Cup and the nation was in a state of euphoria, the team came home to crowds of Italians chanting and singing their names. Italian football was back at the peak of world football. However, for players like Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero, the celebrations were short lived because their beloved Juventus was to be relegated to SerieB. The Calciopoli scandal that rocked Italian football in the spring and summer of 2006 brought Italians back to Earth, and Juventus would ultimately suffer more than most.
Juventus had been accused and convicted of match fixing, or trying to have favorable referee selections for their matches, and as I had mentioned, they were punished the most heavily of the clubs involved. Juve were stripped of their 2004-05 and 2005-06 league titles and relegated to Serie B, and with this, were deducted nine points for the 2006-07 season. To add insult to injury, Inter were given the ’05-’06 Scudedtto as they had finished in second place that season. Juventus subsequently lost most of their key players from that season, leaving them helpless and having to rely mostly on their youth program. Only a select few superstars stayed behind to help their Old Lady recover and rise back to Serie A.
Players such as Buffon, Nedved, Del Piero, Chiellini, and Trezeguet took pay cuts to help lay the foundation for a new Juventus. The team finished first in Serie B in the ’06-’07 and were automatically promoted back to Serie A. At the time Juventus were going through a rocky period, with inexperienced presidents and ridiculous transfers that didn’t pan out in the end. They returned to Champions League play, but never really looked even close to competing in the latter stages. Juventus were a broken giant trying regain their place amongst the elite of Europe.
In Andrea Angelli Juventus found their savior in a man whose family was synonymous with the Old Lady. The Angelli family had been in control of Juventus since the 1930’s and helped build them into one of the most powerful clubs in Italy and Europe. Andrea, like his father and uncle in years past, took the reins of chairman of Juventus. Andrea brought in a team that would help stabilized and make Juventus champions of Italy, although in his first season as chairman Juventus struggled and finished in seventh place in Serie A. However, Andrea knew he needed a manager who could instill the values of Juventus and the motto of “Fino Alla Fine” or “Until the end.”
Enter Antonio Conte, and Angelli’s idea that he would hire a former club captain. Conte would make sweeping changes to Juventus’ mentality that had become fragile; “Lads we’ve finished seventh in the last two years. Crazy stuff, absolutely appalling. I’ve not come here for that.” With that speech Conte sparked Juventus into the mold of the past, having them work and fight together as the teams that Conte had played in during the 1990’s. Conte gave Juventus their fighting spirit back, and would manage his 2011-12 team to their first title since the scandal and fans rejoiced in redemption. Players like Buffon, Del Piero, and Chiellini were vindicated in their decisions to stay with the club, and Juve would go on to win five more titles in a row after that season. Through smart transfers and great marketing by the Juventus executives the club is basking in global growth, and through great managment under Conte and his successor Allegri Juventus has once again been ingrained with the winning mentality. Juventus and their fans still feel wronged by the decisions made from the Calciopoli scandal, but today they are kings of Italy and back among the European elite.