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Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review | Juventus: A History in Black & White by Adam Digby

Image credit:
Ockley Books Ltd.

Adam Digby chronicles the history of Juventus in superb detail in what should become the seminal resource of its kind in English.

Discussion Items:

1. Organized Format
2. Writing Style
3. Notable Quotes
4. Conclusion
5. About the Author

"Football is a game of identity. Clubs are instantly recognizable through imagery, icons and the colours they wear. Before the sport became omnipresent on television and the Internet, where fans were born and grow up supporting their local club, these identities were woven through generations of family and friends. Like many of football's grandest clubs, Juventus can point to the humblest of origins, far removed from the brights lights and multi-millionaire players gracing the sport today."

---- Adam Digby, author of  Juventus: A History in Black & White, Chapter 1, published in February 2015 by Ockley Books Ltd. with a list price of £ 9.99 and also at Amazon Kindle for $2.99.

Sport Club Juventus: A Latin name for "youth" christened by a group of high school students in Turin sitting on a bench in 1897. They were young boys with a simple dream. Little could any of them imagine that they would create more than a team. Perhaps in today's parlance, "global brand" would be more appropriate. Juventus is a team that divides Italy by love and hate but its transcendent nature has spread support of this team to every corner of the footballing world.

Let's take a look at this incredibly detailed historical account by Adam Digby. I think it will become your teacher to all things Juventus in the English language.

1. Organized Format

There is an introduction followed by 23 concise chapters along with an acknowledgment page and a detailed reference section, respectively.

2. Writing Style

Andrea Pirlo Juventus.jpg
Photo credit: Валерий Дудуш
Andrea Pirlo in action
with Juventus.
Adam is a very precise and detailed writer. He affinity for Juventus is well-known to all who read his work. What I liked was how he distanced himself in a journalistic sense, as an author should, in his approach to this project. This historical account is accurate, objective and not painted with a pro-Juventus brush.

His writing style reminded me of Forrest Gump sitting on a bench telling you his life story. He presents the story of Juventus from the first day on a bench where the club was founded to recent times. His narrative style is natural, educational, replete with historic statistics and holds your interest. If life is like a box of Juventus chocolates, this book will be your Valentine's Day.

I also liked that the author intertwined world football history as part of his overall presentation. For instance, citing the Azzurri's all-time worst defeat, 7-1, to the Hungarians in 1924. Or that Luis Monti played in two World Cup finals for different countries (Argentina and Italy, respectively.) A nice touch was a section about Grande Torino's dominance in the 1940s and to be fair, much to the detriment of the Old Lady in that era.

3. Notable Quotes

"L'Avvocato" Gianni Agnelli with Michel Platini.
"We bought him for a pittance and he put us above foie gras."

On their team kit:

"Englishman John Savage, a member of that original team, was asked to reach out to his contacts in England to supply new shirts that would better withstand the elements. The friend he contacted lived in Nottingham, and being a supporter of England's oldest sport club, Notts County, he shipped out their boldly striped shirts to Turin." (Chapter 1)

On an historic goalkeeping record:

"His (Giampiero Combi's) efforts paid handsome dividends, allowing him to set a record for Serie A's longest streak without conceding a goal --- 934 minutes in the 1925-1926 season --- which stands to this day." (Chapter 2)

On the early popularity of Juventus throughout Italy:

"Being named after an idea, rather than a specific location, suddenly became a benefit as the nation rallied against the establishment of the Republic." (Chapter 4)

Historic video from RAI showing Juventus from the 1940s to
1980s with commentary by Gianni Agnelli et al.

On Welsh legend, John Charles:

"Charles continued to enhance his reputation as a great finisher and as a truly adaptable player. It became normal for him to start a match at centre-forward then, when Juventus had established a lead, drop back and play at the heart of defence." (Chapter 5)

On the Heysel Tragedy in 1985:

Image credit: Old School Panini.

"Speaking on the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, (Michel) Platini said in an interview that the players were only partially aware of the incident. He stated that the players celebrated with the supporters in the stadium spontaneously and maintained they were all unaware of the true situation." (Chapter 9)

Reviewer's Note:

Michel Platini was criticized for celebrating his spot kick winner over Liverpool (I watched that night on TV). As the author importantly noted, Zibi Boniek, his teammate, said, "It is not good to be playing football when people are dying around you."

On Gianluca Viall:

"If Roberto Baggio is Raphael and Alessandro Del Piero, Pinturicchio, who is Gianluca Vialli? If I think for a moment, I would say Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. He is the sculptor who knows how to become a painter." Gianni Agnelli quoted in Chapter 12.

On the Calciopoli scandal of 2006:

"A true gentleman never leaves his lady." Alessandro Del Piero quoted in Chapter 14.

On Alessandro Del Piero:

"Del Piero is a champion with extraordinary technical ability and wonderful characteristics. When he is selected, he never disappoints." Marcello Lippi quoted in Chapter 17.

On Andrea Pirlo:

"Pirlo can make his feet do whatever he wants. He is a genius." Johan Cruyff quoted in Chapter 20.

On Antonio Conte's record-setting tenure:

"Only winners write history." Antonio Conte quoted in Chapter 22.

4. Conclusion

Adam Digby has authored a comprehensive history of Juventus but also one that chronicles Italian calcio in acute detail since the last century. This book likely will become the seminal resource for the history of Juventus in the English language. "Juventus: A History in Black & White," will be a welcome addition to your world football book library.

Please Note

I have received a complementary review copy of this book from a representative of the publisher, Ockley Books Ltd. I was not financially compensated by the author, publisher or any party who would benefit from a positive review.

5. About the Author

Picture credit: Steve Amoia.
 RFK Stadium in August 1983 for
Team America vs. Juventus friendly.
 Walking on the left were
Sergio Brio, Michel Platini and Paolo Rossi.
In the center were
Stefano Tacconi, Gaetano Scirea and
Antonio Cabrini.

Adam Digby () is a Turin-based football journalist. He is the Italian football correspondent for 442 Magazine and BeInSportsUSA.

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Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and The Soccer Translator since 2008. 

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