Since its founding in 1897, Juventus football club saw its fair share of great talents and iconic figures. From the late Giampiero Boniperti all the way through Michel Platini to Alessandro Del Piero and Zinedine Zidane, just to name a few. Those were all world class players who were simply a joy to watch, and brought countless trophies to club’s cabinet with their sheer talent.
And yet, the story of this great club would be incomplete without the mention of the soldiers who left it all on the pitch while proudly serving the Old Lady, and in this section of the book, we should find the name of our beloved, Mario Mandzukic.
On Thursday, the Croatian announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 35, although admitting that football will forever remain a part of his life.
Throughout his career, the former striker featured for several clubs, including Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Wolfsburg and even played for Milan on a handful of occasions.
Nevertheless, Mario’s name will always be associated with that of Juventus – at least for us, Bianconeri fans.
A ferocious striker who never backed down from a challenge, Mandzukic must have been a menacing presence for the opposing defenders – especially at the peak of his powers.
The 2018 World Cup finalist first landed at Juventus in 2015, and swiftly adapted to the club that shared his same passion and incredible work ethic.
However, his exemplary professionalism and great dedication to the club’s cause was further proven following the arrival of Gonzalo Higuain in 2016. The record-breaking striker who costed Juve’s coffers 90 million euros surely wasn’t going to be benched, thus, we all expected Mario to pay the price for El Pipita’s arrival.
But for Max Allegri, his Croatian soldier was a redline, and therefore, he recreated his tactics, forming a new 4-2-3-1 formation, in order to preserve Super Mario’s presence within the starting lineup – even if it had to be in an unfamiliar role on the left wing.
Nevertheless, Mandzukic cherished the opportunity, turning himself into an actual winger – but with a knack for goals of course – while dropping back as deep as possible to defend his team whenever needed, performing duties that other strikers simply wouldn’t acknowledge.
We’re talking about a former Champions League winner – who scored goals in two CL finals as well as a World Cup final – who was willing to relinquish his natural position and recreate himself in his thirties while happily performing the dirty work for the Bianconeri. This fact is enough to explain why Mandzukic embodied the Juventus fighting spirit and winning mentality.
A soldier, a warrior, a berserker and yet, an incredibly humble person. This is why Mario will forever remain one of us. Uno Di Noi!