In this week’s main listening report, we salute a remarkable achievement and a fantastic player as Del Piero appoaches 700 professional games. This report has a transcript below, as well as explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the foot of the post, while other key phrases (in blue) also have meanings explained.
This weekend, if he plays for Juventus against Lazio, Del Piero will have pulled on a football shirt in a professional game for the 700th time, and if he scores, he may well remove his shirt in triumph as he celebrates what would be his 284th goal for Juve, a team he has played at all his career except for 14 games for Padova at the start of 20 years of football.
In the modern game, it is incredibly rare for a player to spend so much time at one club, Piero has played at The Old Lady since 1993. He is their captain and talisman, replacing Roberto Baggio in the heart of the attack, and top scorer and although he has spent most of his time coming off the bench this season and has not been given a new contract by Juventus, he is the fans’ favourite.
It didn’t take long for Del Piero to taste success – he was part of the Championship winning Juventus side in 1994, and four more were to follow. In 1996, he picked up a Champions League winners medal and in 2006 a World Cup medal – and he showed his worth in that competition capping a brilliant counter with a clinical goal against Germany in the Semis. He is on the FIFA 100 greatest living footballers list, compiled by Pele, and has also won the Golden Foot in 2007, an award that recognises players who have excelled athletically and as personalities in their team. Add to these, top scorer in the Champions League in 1998, two Player of the Year in Italy awards, and other assorted medals and it is clear that Del Piero is a special player. Undoubtedly talented, but also loyal – Del Piero vowed to stay with Juve when they were relegated to the second tier of football after the Calciopoli scandal.
One word really encapsulates Del Piero, versatility. He is comfortable as an out-and-out striker, a playmaker, just behind one or two forwards, or a second striker linking play from the midfield to attack. But he is probably best known for his role in the triangle with Zidane and Piero supplying Inzaghi under main15.1112coach Marcello Lippi in 2001.
In the 1998-99 season, he picked up a serious knee injury playing in a match against Udinese. He was out for six months and Juve after a bright start finished in sixth place in Serie A. We’ve already mentioned the Calciopoli scandal, where Juventus were found guilty of trying to fix matches and were relegated, this was an obvious low, especially as it came after the glory of a World cup win in 2006. And while not exactly lows, maybe when he hangs up his boots he will regret missing out on a Champions League title when Juve lost to Bourssia Dortmund in 1997, and also when Italy failed to beat France in the European Championship Finals in 2000.
Juve are currently top of Serie A with their inspirational captain and a new ground to inspire their fans. Wouldn’t it be fitting for Juve to win the title in their loyal servant Del Piero’s last season.
The Old lady: Juventus football club’s nickname (in English)
talisman: lucky charm, something that brings good fortune
capping: ending, finishing
counter: a break away attack; an attack after the opponents move has broken down – usually quick with one or two touch passes
out-an-out: complete; 100%
playmaker: a player that controls the tempo of a game; someone who starts most attacks
hang up (his) boots: retire; stop playing football