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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: "Giochiamo Ancora" by Alessandro Del Piero with Maurizio Crosetti

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"Forse e' cominciato tutto con quel tema alla elementari. Io volveo scrivere 'il calciatore', pero' mi sembrava troppo. Cosa avrebbe pensato la maestra? Mica e' un mestiere, al massimo e' un gioco. Un mestiere e' quello di mio papa', che fa l'elettricista e di notte 'e 'reperibile'. Sono cresciuto con quella parola in testa: reperibile. A volte, il telefono squllava nel cuore della notte e lui doveva vestirsi di corsa e uscire... E alla fine ridava la luce a tutto il paese. Il mio eroe! L'elettricista si' che e' un mestiere importante... E dissi che avrei anche voluto fare il cuoco, oppure il camionista.. Mi chiamo Alessandro Del Piero e gioco a calcio."

"Perhaps it all began with that essay in grammar school. I wanted to write 'footballer' but it seemed too much. What would the teacher have thought? At the very least, it's a livelihood. At the most, it's a game. A livelihood was that of my father. Someone who is an electrician and at night is 'available.' I grew up with that word in my head. Available.

At times, the phone rang in the middle of the night and he had to get dressed quickly and leave... At the end, he turned the lights back on for the entire village. My hero! Yes, being an electrician is an important line of work... And I said that I also would have wanted to be a chef or a truck driver... My name is Alessandro Del Piero and I play football."

--- Alessandro Del Piero, author of "Giochiamo Ancora," ('Let's Keep Playing'), pages 9-11, published in 2012 by Arnaldo Mondadori Editore S.p.A., with a list price of 15.90.

Comments from His Co-Author, Maurizio Crosetti

Maurizio Crosetti is a Turin-based sports journalist and author who writes for La Repubblica.

"Attendiamo tutti questo libro, lo attendo pure io che ho collaborato tanto per dirvi di quanto è interessante questo lavoro. Vale la pena comprarlo perchè permette di capire il Del Piero uomo, insieme ad Alex abbiamo parlato del talento, della vita e della famiglia. Lo conosco da tanti anni ma lui è un personaggio che ti sorprende sempre, nelle parole e nella scelta dei vocabili è veramente eccezionale mostra ogni volta una cultura di un livello altissimo.

"Quest'anno posso dire che spesso si è morso la lingua facendo il bene della Juve e anche il bene di se stesso, è rimasto Del Piero fino alla fine ed anche Andrea Agnelli glielo riconosce. Posso svelarvi un aneddoto che mi ha raccontato, qualche anno fa Del Piero andò al carnevale di Venezia e si mascherò da Uomo Tigre anche per non farsi riconoscere con la maschera del popolare cartone animato comprata in Giappone. Nonostante ciò andarono da lui alcuni turisti giapponesi a chiedergli l'autografo ma non come Del Piero, capitano della Juventus, ma proprio come Tiger Man".

"All of us awaited this book. Even I who also collaborated a great deal to tell you how interesting this work was. It's worthwhile to buy because it allows you to understand Del Piero the man. Together with Alex, we spoke of talent, of life and of family. I've known him for so many years but he's a personality that always surprises you. In his words and choice of vocabulary, he's truly exceptional who shows a very high cultural level each time.

This year I can say that he frequently bite his tongue for the good of Juventus and himself. He's remained Del Piero to the very end, and even Andrea Agnelli recognizes it. I can reveal an anecdote that he told me. A few years ago, Del Piero went to the Carnival of Venice and dressed up as 'Tiger Mask' (one of the popular Japanese anime characters) so that he wouldn't be recognized. Despite that many Japanese tourists asked him for an autograph not as Del Piero, the captain of Juventus, but as Tiger Mask."

Tribute Video

The Electrician's Son

From kicking a sponge ball between goals of a sofa and chair in his parent's living room, to using a tennis ball to perfect his touch in the garage, the electrician's son from the Veneto region village of Saccon di San Vendemiano learned the value of hard work and around-the-clock dedication. This much anticipated book was released a few short weeks before Del Piero's final swan song for Juventus FC.

While he admits to being a footballer and not a writer, teacher or philosopher, Mr. Del Piero has written a beautiful tale as exquisite as one of his famous free kicks. He provides ten lessons from his life: Ten from the man who wore that iconic number for nineteen seasons with Juventus.

Always Available

Del Piero was a "figlio d'arte". Someone who follows in their father's footsteps although in this case, not in a literal sense. He was "available" for 19 splendid years at Juventus, and many seasons with the national team. His former Juventus and Azzurri manager, Marcello Lippi, said of him many years ago: "He's always ready when you call on him."

Organized Format: Ten Life Lessons

There is a brief introduction, ten concise chapters, along with a conclusion and acknowledgments sections. This is a small book at 105 pages including the conclusion. Like Del Piero on the pitch, no effort is wasted. Each chapter is named and focused upon one important learning theme from Del Piero's life. For example, "Il Talento, La Passione, Lo Stile" (Talent, Passion and Style). The co-author's writing style is direct, personal, engaging and candid.

Del Piero's talent was noticed at a precocious age. Ironically, his first try-out was with Torino, the eternal rivals of Juventus. The author left his home in the Veneto region of Italy at the tender age of 13 to join the Padova youth system. He lived alone for five years in his own room and ate, "solo pane e calcio" ('only bread and football'), (page 103) which was an experience that molded him for future greatness. Padova transferred Del Piero to Juventus, instead of Parma, in 1993. What followed became a legendary career at one of Italy's fabled clubs.

Concept of Loyalty

Given that Del Piero spent his entire Serie A career at one club, I eagerly anticipated reading the chapter entitled, "La lealta" (Loyalty). I wasn't disappointed and not surprisingly, it was the longest chapter in the book.

Del Piero recounted an interesting story about a rainy day in Perugia, May 2000, when Juventus lost the Italian title on the last day of the season. He described a sequence with ten minutes left in the game and Juventus were losing, 0-1, with the Italian title on the line. His teammate, Gianluca Pessotto, threw the ball back in purposely to his opponents because the referee's assistant made the wrong call:

"La grandezza del suo gesto dipese anche dal momento scelto, perche tutti sono capci di essere generosi sul 3-0 di una partita non troppo importante, diverso e' giocarsi uno scudetto in quel modo. Penso che la differenza tra un buon giocatore e un grande giocatore sia la capacita' di essere decisivi nei momenti che piu contano..." (Page 58)

'The greatness of his gesture depended also on the chosen moment. Because everyone is capable of being generous when you are winning 3-0 in a game that's not too important. Different than playing for a championship in that manner. I think that the difference between a good player and a great one is the capacity to be decisive in the times that count the most..."

Notable Quotes

"Papa' aveva appeso quattro lampadine perche' illuminassero i nostri giochi. Era il mio stadio, era la mia Coppa dei Campioni". Page 10

'Father installed four small lights because it illuminated our games. It was my stadium. It was my Champions League."

"Il talento cresce, migliora, va protetto e non inveccchia. Maradona lo avra' per sempre: se tirasse una punizione, anche a ottant'anni mettera' la palla all'incrocio. Siamo noi a invecchiare, il nostro corpo, non la classe". Page 20

'Talent grows, gets better, is protected and doesn't age. (Diego) Maradona will always have it. If he took a free kick, even at 80 years of age, he'll put it on the upper 90. It is we who get old. The body. Not one's class.'

"L'ultima mia stagione alla Juventus, non posso nasconderlo, e' stata complessa: dopo vent'anni, non e' facile guardare quasi sempre giocare gli altri, dalla panchina. In quei momenti, il sentimento del giuoco puo' essere offuscato dallo sconforto, ed e' umano". Page 27

'My last season at Juventus, I can't hide it. It's been complicated. After twenty years, it's not easy to always watch others play from the bench. In those moments, the feeling of the play can be clouded by the discomfort. And it's human.'

"Uno dei i miei piu' cari amici e' interista, e un altro non s'interessa quasi per niente di calcio: incredibile, ma si puo' vivere lo stesso". Page 40

'One of my dearest friends is a supporter of Internazionale Milano. And another has hardly any interest at all with football. Incredible, but you can get along all the same.'

"Il mio corpo e la mia testa mi parlano. Da tanti anni cerco di ascoltarli con attezione e rispetto. In questo periodo della mia carriera, mi stanno dicendo che hanno solo voglia di giocare". Page 54

'My body and mind talk to me. For many years, I try to listen to them with attention and respect. At this time in my career, they are telling me that they only want to play."

"Ogni tanto mi dico che mi piacerebbe essere alto un metro e novanta anche solo per due settimane, per vedere l'effetto che fa... I gomiti, quando serve, li uso pure io". Page 60

'Every once in awhile, I tell myself that I'd like to be 1.9 meters tall if only for two weeks to see the effect it makes... Elbows, when useful, I even use them myself.'

"In poche mesi, come in un film dell'assurdo, sono passato dalla Coppa del Mondo ad debutto in B a Rimini, dove pareggiamo... Ma la coscienza e' sempre stata a posto, perche' non abbiamo vinto una sola partita grazie ad aiuti esterni". Page 63

'In a few months, just like a film of the absurd, I went from the World Cup to a debut in Serie B (Second Division) in Rimini where we drew (tied)... But the conscience has always been in place because we didn't win even one game due to external assistance.'

"A un certo punto della mia carriera, saronno piu' o meno dieci anni fa, mi e' venuto spontaneo festeggiare il gol facendo la lingua: non e' uno sberleffo, semmai una specie di monelleria. E' la smorfia di un bambino felice". Page 74

'At a certain point in my career, it more or less ten years ago, it came spontaneously to me to celebrate a goal by sticking out my tongue. It wasn't a sneer. In any case, a type of mischievousness. It's the wry smile of a happy child.'

"A volte mi chiedono cosa sia stata Juventus per me, e io penso che non si tratti solo di una squadra di calcio ma di un 'idea... Ed e' per senso di appartenza che accettai, insieme a molti compagni di allora, la serie B: era una questione d'orgoglio, era il dovere di aiutare un animale ferito". Pages 83-84

'At times they ask me what has Juventus been for me. And I think that you don't only speak about a football team but of an idea... And it is for a sense of belonging that I accepted, together with many teammates at that time, the Serie B (Second Division). It was a question of pride. It was the obligation to help a hurt animal.'

"Rispettare sempre lo stile e' pesante, ci sono momenti in cui vorrei mandare Del Piero a quel paese...Invece, nel segreto del campo d'allenamento, senza nessuna telecamera, talvolta posso dare il peggio di me... Il vero stile non e' quello che siamo, ma quello che ci piacerebbe diventare". Pages 99 and 101.

'To always respect style is a burden. There are times that I'd like to send Del Piero to hell... Instead, in the secret of the training ground, without any television cameras, sometimes I can give the worst of me... True style is not what we are, but what we would like to become.'

Del Piero, the Man

The electrician's son grew up idolizing his father who turned the lights back on in the middle-of-the night. Few have brought more light to the footballing world as Alessandro Del Piero. He shared triumphs and tragedies in great detail within this book. The most impressive thing about this book wasn't the elegant choice of words. It was the choice not to include a single picture from his illustrious career. As his co-author stated, "It allows you to understand Del Piero the man."

"Great and good are seldom the same man." --- Sir Winston Churchill

I believe that Mr. Churchill would have found a rare example in Alessandro Del Piero.

My Rating

Five stars.

Career Statistics with Juventus and the Azzurri
  • Games with Juventus: 704 | Games with Azzurri: 91
  • Goals: 289 | Goals with Italy U-21: 3. Goals with Azzurri: 27
  • Trophies: 18 | 3
  • Minutes Played: 48,365 | 5189
Courtesy of www.alessandrodelpiero.com

Please Note

I did not receive a review copy of this book from the publisher, Arnaldo Mondadori Editore, S.p.A., and was not compensated by the co-authors, publisher or anyone who would benefit from a positive article.

The quoted Italian source text is courtesy of and copyrighted by Arnaldo Mondadori Editore, S.p.A., Alessandro Del Piero and Maurizio Crosetti, respectively. All global rights reserved.

The Italian to English translations are copyrighted by Steve Amoia. All global rights reserved.

I discussed this book and Alessandro Del Piero on Mad About Futbol, Episode 6, on 16 July 2012. Please click the link to listen to my commentary which begins at the 45 minute mark. (I also discussed Michael Bradley's move to AS Roma).

Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator based in Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries and The Soccer Translator

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