In the latest Juventus fans Q&A, Rocco Fasano explains what bought him to the Bianconeri, his favourite Juve goal and which player he idolised.
You can follow Rocco here on Twitter.
1. What’s the story behind you supporting Juventus?
When I was 6 and a half years old, my family and I moved back to Italy (Bari area). Soccer is a religion, a passion, a mania in Italy – this is widely known. But for bored, hyperactive children who live in a place that offers little in terms of infrastructure that’s immediately accessible, soccer is a pass time. As I grew accustomed to life in my new environment, I learned the language, and made friendships. My best friend – I still remember his name, Alessando Albanese – was a juventino to the nth degree. And so was his whole family. He told me of the legend that was Juventus, of a sensational player who had just retired (too young) at 31, Michel Platini, who helped us to become the first club to win everything under the sun, and of other champions like Cabrini, Gentile, Zoff, Scirea and Boniek. Despite AC Milan earning public acclaim, and many of my other friends becoming Milan fans at the time, I chose Juventus because of my loyalty to my friend. I guess that’s telling of my character.
2. When did you start supporting Juventus?
It must have been 1987… either the 1986-87 season or the one following.
3. Where are you from?
I was born, spent most of my life in, and currently live in Canada (in the Toronto area), so I should identify as a Canadian. But I’m an Italian citizen and my life there (lived directly and indirectly, through family and following the vicissitudes there) hyphenates my existence. I’m an Italian and a Canadian at the same time.
3, What’s your favourite Juventus game of all time?
Oh man. There are so many reasons to like or dislike a game, but one of the most memorable for me must have been the semifinal match versus Ajax in 1997. We destroyed the best competition in existence with game play that I don’t think we’ve ever expressed at that level. The scoreline, 4-1, was unfair. It could have easily been 6 or more. I feel that UEFA should have walked into the dressing room that night and handed us the Champions League trophy. Alas, Borussia Dortmund had other ideas.
4. Who is your favourite Juventus player of all time and why?
That’s a very tough question. It’s a toss up between my childhood idol and my childhood hero. First came the hero: in 1989-90 Juventus bought this small but tough forward who had scored a load of goals in Serie B with Messina – Salvatore (shortened to Totò) Schillaci. He came with no pretense, in a team that was fighting for the UEFA Cup (the Europa League of the time), a decent finish in the league and possibly the Italian Cup.
Schillaci took Juventus by storm, scoring in double digits that season. He was our “bomber” as they used to call prolific strikers back then. He came from very simple means and worked his butt off on the field. He had a unique “nose” for goals. A Sicilian Paolo Rossi-meets-Pippo Inzaghi type player. His hard word earned him a spot on the Italian national team in 1990, where he became “Il Salvatore della Patria” (the Motherland’s Saviour). You can only imagine my joy at each one of his goals, as I believed in him from before he exploded at Juventus: as a young adolescent, these things have a deep effect on your psyche.
Then came my idol. Simply put, one simply cannot be mystified by Roberto Baggio. Silky yet lethal, the “divin codino” (the divine ponytail) conquered the hearts of all fans – including the opposing team. His direct free kicks, his dribbling past and around the goalkeeper to score, are part of the Italian anthology of football. There are no words that do him justice, no sales job required. Simply: “Roby”.
5. Your all time Juventus XI?
A mix between physical power and classe pura (technique): a 4-3-1-2 with Buffon; Zambrotta, Scirea, Cannavaro, Cabrini; Nedved, Zidane, and Pogba; then Platini behind Del Piero and Ronaldo.
6. Your best and worst memories as a Juventino?
Well, the best… luckily as juventini we are used to “too many” good memories:
– Roberto Galia’s cross-goal winner against Milan that gave us the 1990 Italian Cup;
– Roberto Baggio lifting the Uefa Cup in the same year and in 1993;
– Jugovic burying the final penalty to end Ajax, and Vialli lifting the Champions League in Rome’s starry night;
– May 5, 2002 (need I say more?);
– Our return to the throne in May 2012.
The worst memory has to be Calciopoli. The name with which I associated so much for so long was in the mud. Juventus, my muse, my lady. It was too much to bare. The truth – albeit too late – came out later on, after the damage was done. Thanks to a super-organized club brass and the surgical implementation of a magical plan has made it so that damage was repaired. Yet never repaid.
7. What was the first Juventus shirt you bought?
My first Juventus jersey was a very plain, wool, black and white striped jersey. It looked like something out of the 1960’s. I wish I would have kept it.
8. What’s your favourite Juventus kit?
I’m a traditionalist: I love either the ones in the 1960’s with no sponsor and just the scudetto (and a star where applicable), or the 1980’s Ariston-sponsored jersey with stars, scudetto and coccarda (Coppa Italia winners’ patch). Oh yea, and stripes please. S-T-R-I-P-E-S.
It’s the year 1960-61. The iconic Omar Sivori sports the first jersey ever to feature the coccarda and the scudo symbolizing the Coppa Italia and Scudetto defending champion, respectively. The star was an idea of Il Dottor Umberto Agnelli (then Juventus and FIGC president).
9. What’s your favourite/craziest experience meeting another Juventino?
Well, when you’re a fan of such a popular team, especially after the Cristiano Ronaldo coup, finding juventini is like finding black flies. They’re always plenty when there’s something to feast on. Like FC Merda 🙂 (see what I did there?) All kidding aside, I fondly recall meeting Juventus fans in London, just as my party and I were heading toward Paddington station. They asked us where we were from (and since I speak fluent Italian with a native accent) their eyes popped out of their heads when I told them that I was coming from Toronto.
“FROM TORONTO?!?!?” they asked. “This guy travelled 5,000 Km just to watch Juve, man”, he said to his buddy “what kind of soccer faith do you have, you just came here from Italy”. It was a good feeling.
10. If you could change one result in Juve history, what would it be and why?
[Insert your Champions League final of choice here] LOL! Well, since I was in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to assist in person to our dismemberment at the hands of Real Madrid, what can I say? Juventus-Real Madrid for that reason alone.
But above that I would change one thing that happened in Juventus history, not on the field but on the stands, in Brussels’ Heysel stadium. This tragedy touched me deeply (even though it was before I started following) and still does to this day. A few years ago I did an hourly marathon remembering the victims.
11. In the current climate, what do you think Juventus as a club are doing right? What could they do better?
I feel that the club has made several forward strides, considering the limited progress that Serie A has made as a league. I feel however that in some cases we’ve departed (too much) from the bench in Corso Vittorio Emanuele to a multinational. That passion needs to be reigned back in. Juventus is becoming inaccessible with each passing year. I feel that sometimes with all of this change we’re beginning to lose our identity.
12. How do you assess the current Juventus squad?
Fantastic. Probably the strongest team that we’ve had in a very long time. There are several growing pains that we’re experiencing at the time and it will be up to Sarri to handle the massive pressure that’s on him from a fanbase that is extremely fickle and demanding. One draw, and we’re screaming bloody murder! 🙂 His game play will take time to take hold, especially since he really hasn’t had that much time to make his imprint on the squad.
13. What does Juventus mean to you?
Here’s an excerpt from my blog post on what Juventus means to me:
“Juventus bridged my adolescence to my adult life, and never left. Because I never left her. To me Juventus is youth, yet carries over a century of tradition. A fascinatingly beautiful Old Lady. Juventus has budded many of my friendships, with fellow juventini and non. This meant a lot for one who has had to start life over at least twice, in a major way.”
14. If you could sign one player right now, who would it be and why?
Honestly, as things stand we need to sell some players & integrate the new additions to squad. Who would I want to buy? The question is not who but what: I would want to buy Sarri some time with the squad to truly put his imprint on our game play.
15. Whats your favourite formation overall?
I have no favourite formation. I like a team (no matter the formation) that plays good-looking, flowing football, and scores lots of goals. Oh yea, and wins! 🙂
16. What’s your favourite Juventus signing from your time as a Juventino?
Fabio Cannavaro was also a huge scoop as was Pirlo. But Paul Pogba takes the cake. Fantastic contribution, bought for nearly nothing and sold for an incredible accounting (and non) profit. The only thing that I regret is not seeing him in our colours for longer.
17. Which player did you ‘dislike’ the most at Juventus and why?
All our players are signed to help the black-and-white cause. We’ve had our series of “flops”, but I didn’t personally dislike any of them. I was disappointed with Andrade, Boumsong, Tiago, Diego, Melo, Malaka Martinez, and vintage flops like Esnaider, Oliseh… and before them Aleinikov. More than “dislike” I feel cheated by Van der Sar: such a stellar goalkeeper with Manchester United, he was below par with us. For some reason I can’t forgive him for that.
18. Have you ever seen Juventus live and if so, how was that experience?
Yes, I’ve seen Juventus live against Bari (1991), Torino & Trazosbor (2014) (check spelling), Palermo, Olympiacos, Parma (2015), Frosinone (2015), Roma (friendly, 2017), and the MLS All-stars (2018). In that order.
The one that’s still vivid despite how long ago it took my place, was my first time, aged 11, in the newly-minted San Nicola in Bari. It was a sold-out crowd of 60,000. About 2,500 juventini, and the balance were rabid Bari fans. I was “lucky” enough to watch Juventus under Maifredi’s spell: an experiment that went wrong. That game was no exception: at each of Bari’s two goals the crowd roared. And I cried helplessly each time. After the game, all my friends waited for me to get back from the stadium to take the piss out of me. It was bitterly disappointing – just another tempering experience as a juventino: all those scudetti that came after thickened my skin.
19. How would you describe Juventus to someone who knows nothing about the club?
Juventus is the first to win every club competition created. Period.
20. What makes Juve different from other clubs?
Tradition. Style. Despite our glorious history, we maintain provincial at heart, and a winning mentality. That’s our “secret sauce”. And biggest obstacle.
21. Your favourite Juventus goal of all time?
The one that I saw with my own eyes scored by Mandzukic in Cardiff… and Schillaci’s scissor kick against Verona in 1992. I like scissor kicks what can I say?
22. Least favourite Juventus kit?
This year’s home jersey. I’m not kidding.
23. Your favourite Juventus coach of all time and why?
Giovanni Trapattoni, and not only for his victories. He was a genius who reinvented himself after each experience. A pioneer.
Joining Juventus in 1976 as an outsider (coached only AC Milan’s primavera – the team where he played for his entire career), he inherited a team that grew tired of his predecessor (the legendary Čestmír Vycpálek, who is Zvominir Zeman’s uncle by the way) and turned them into instant winners. Juventus brought home not only the scudetto but its first European silverware: the Uefa Cup.
That was the beginning of his illustrious first spell at Juventus, which ended with Juventus on top of the world (winners of the Intercontinental Cup, now FIFA Club World Cup).
Trapattoni went to Inter, where he won the 1988-89 scudetto with a points record, then humbled himself by coaching minor sides like Cagliari, before going to Bayern Munich.
Trapattoni is owed something by the football gods, since his coaching experiences as a national team coach saw him on the wrong side of controversy: we all remember the non-call up of Roberto Baggio followed by the Korean “fix” of 2002, and the 2004 Danish-Swedish biscotto. Then, he nearly took Ireland to the World Cup, had it not been for a ball that Henry controlled with his hand.
24. A player you feel Juventus should have never sold?
I understand why Pogba “had” to be sold. It’s a question of markets: a player that was on an upward trajectory in modern football gravitates towards a bigger market in order to earn what he’s worth, and grow his personal brand. For that reason, I don’t think that Pogba should never have been sold.
Vidal, on the other hand, really didn’t grow, could have earned and won just as much at Juventus.
25. Top Juve scorer this season?
26. Who do you think will be our best player overall this season?
Overall, I believe that there are early indicators that Douglas Costa (if he comes back from injury with the same pre-injury verve) is the man who truly stands to gain from Sarriball. I see Dybala and Ramsey doing well, but everyone will have ups and downs this season. Rabiot got off to a troubled start, but he has a lot of talent and will eventually snap into place.
27. What does being a Juventino mean to you personally?
Juventus bridged my adolescence to my adult life, and never left. Because I never left her. To me Juventus is youth, yet carries over a century of tradition. A fascinatingly beautiful Old Lady. Juventus has budded many of my friendships, with fellow juventini and non. This meant a lot for one who has had to start life over at least twice, in a major way. Juventus is an inextricable part of my life.
28. If you had the chance to play for Juventus, what position would you play and what number would you take….and why?
I like to think that I play best as a right midfielder, but I hear that we’re really short at the fullback positions, so I would be willing to put my ego aside and play back there too! LOL
Look, even if I was hired to shine everyone’s shoes (including the office staff), I’d love every minute of it LOL!