Translated by: Mauro (Juventus Club Londra)
It's almost midday when we arrive in Brussels. The journey seemed never
ending especially for me as I cannot sleep on the coach. During the journey
every now and then we would pass other coaches full of Juventini with whom we
exchanged noisy cheers but as we get closer to the city the number of Juventus
coaches increases dramatically. We seem to be in our thousands and hope that
this will bode well for the match result.
The parking area that has been reserved for us is enormous and full of fans and
I try to find a face that I can recognise but to no avail. Only Gino, Fabio and
myself have got here by road; the other fans from my town have come by plane,
fortunate for those that can afford to. We try to find signposts for the stadium,
either there are none or we just can't find them so we follow the sea of
Bianconeri , someone up in front must know where we're going! Just a brief stop
to take a photo in front of the Atonium which I have seen countless times in
geography books but to see it in real life is quite amazing.
Finally, we arrive at the stadium. It doesn't look a great deal but perhaps it's
better inside. On the grass verges outside there are countless small groups of
fans, some eating, some sleeping and some reading La Gazzetta. As we get closer
we hear the comments of thousands of would be managers each one with his line up
and tactics for the match. We just hope not to repeat the folly of Athens.
I am apprehensive as usual and try to find the entry point for our sector so
that I know where to go when the gates are opened. Gino and Fabio take the
mickey but join in the hunt. We get close to the stadium perimeter and begin to
follow it. We find barriers where the central section should be. We can't get
through and so walk further out until we get to one of the goal ends. Is it ours?
We hadn't realised that the grass verges had gradually changed colours from
green with black and white to green with red. We are at the Liverpool end.
Hoping that the black and white shirts of Fabio and myself and that the blue
away jersey with the Ariston band and stars worn by Gino will pass as T shirts
we continue our search, but I cannot help but look out of the corner of my eye
at the faces of the English fans, fearing threatening glances or hoping for a
A young guy leaves one of the numerous groups and comes towards me. I give a
nervous smile and he points at my jersey and begins to talk to me. My gosh how
different his English to that of my teacher! I can make out about half of the
words but understand that he wants to swap jersey. Why not? Perhaps I had been
expecting something like this and so apart from the official shirt I was wearing,
I had brought along a replica shirt, bought from a stall in front of the Stadio
Comunale just before a match with Bordeux. We make the exchange. What a
wonderful shirt with a red that exudes passion. Who knows when Juve will decide
to adopt a shirt with a similar shiny material?
We shake hands and I say 'Good Luck' which I don't really mean, not for
tonight's match anyway.
We continue with our search and almost get to the end of the section just before
the VIP area when we see some movement. We don't understand, or perhaps we do
but just don't believe it. There are some fans on top of a wall, which seems
lower than the other parts of the perimeter wall, on which the barbed wire is
broken. Other fans are passing containers, they seem cases of beer. Perhaps
they're taking in banners, but something tells us that our first impression is
correct. These seem less friendly to those we have just met and so we decide not
to indulge and hurry to get away.
Past the VIP area and the colours begin to change again towards black and white
and we see a sign JUVENTUS. We are not quite sure if this is the entry point for
our sector but we look at the plan on the back of the match tickets and decide
that it is. I ask everyone if this is sector 'N' which encourages my two friends
to take the mickey again. We have arrived in the right place, even if a little
early, but years of watching matches at the Comunale teaches us that if you're
not in front of the gates when they open you end up with the worst places.
The evening is almost upon us, it's hot ( why is it that when you buy the
official shirt they always give you the winter one with long sleeves ?) the
number of fans continues to increase, more and more tightly packed. We had
decided for some time to stay standing and, in addition, a policeman on a horse
decides to join our group as well. Just my luck.. I'm face to face with our four
legged friend. I hope he's well trained! I smile at the policeman hoping to show
him that we're not hooligans but he doesn't react. Ah well, I think, just as
long as you keep Trigger under control!
The excitement increases and I think we're almost there. The gates open and all
of a sudden the choruses begin 'Juve, Juve' even before going through. We're
inside and we find a decent position near the VIP's and we begin to examine the
theatre for our spectacle. The pitch is wonderful and seems even more green than
usual. The rest however is not a great deal. The stadium doesn't seem very big,
certainly it's very old and not well maintained, indeed some of the steps are
crumbling. I almost think that the Comunale, which I have often criticised, to
be in better condition. I continue with my little game of sizing up our 'troops',
as if the number of supporters would make any difference. I look at the opposite
area behind the goal of our 'enemies' but it's not all red; in fact in some of
the areas by the side, towards the side terraces I can see some Juventini. Who
knows? Perhaps we are in so many that they have reserved that side of the ground
as well. In the meantime the stadium continues to fill. To pass the time we read
the newspaper that the guy next to us unfolds with great difficulty. Every now
and again somebody starts off a chant and so we all lift up our scarves and
flags and we sing to give us encouragement and hoping to give the players some
as well. Some guy behind me unfurls a banner reading 'Mother I'm Here' I'd never
seen that one before!
The excitement continues to increase. I now find it impossible to calm down. If
it continues at this pace I'll have no nails left by the start of the match. A
roar. Some people with Juve tops are on the field. I can't make out their faces.
It could be the physio or it could even be Platini. How long to go? It's almost
seven. There's still a lot left to go but the minutes seem to become longer
during the wait. I calm myself, but it doesn't last long.
Something stirs in our area, perhaps the players are coming onto the field to
inspect the pitch. No, something is happening in the stand behind the other
goal. I try to understand. From the two areas reserved for the Liverpool fans
there are missiles being thrown towards the Juve sector, they seem bottles, or
perhaps stones. I can't make it our properly. The Juventus area begins to
whistle and so do we. Was it really necessary to cause trouble tonight? Between
the two tightly packed sets of supporters a space opens. Then, as if under a
single command the Liverpool fans begin to move towards the direction of the
Juventus fans. 'There must be some fencing' I think to myself, 'I'm sure the
police are on their way, I hope. 'They'll stop' I hope they'll stop. Just like a
loaded spring the English retreat and then go forward and do not stop. The mass
of Juventus fans move towards the side stands, perhaps they're leaving. From
here I can see that many are on the pitch. Perhaps the stewards have opened the
gates to avoid problems and are making them go onto the pitch. The sector is now
almost empty and the Liverpool fans have now stopped and slowly go back to their
areas singing. We try to understand but from here it's difficult.
The PA system in the stadium stays silent. Let's hope they don't postpone the
match. It would be a shame to have come all the way here for nothing. The
minutes tick away and the Juventus area remains empty and all the crowd appears
to be on the pitch. I think I hear sirens. Police reinforcements are arriving or
perhaps it's some ambulances. Perhaps someone has got hurt!.
Time is now flying past. Why don't they say anything? The loudspeaker begins to
crackle into action but the announcements are many and incomplete. We can make
out that the captains of the teams will be reading a statement. We hear a timid
voice, it's Scirea. " The match will be played. To allow the police to evacuate
the pitch please stay calm. Do not react to provocation. We are playing for
you". Then another announcement in English. This is Neal, the Liverpool captain.
We can't understand. Will the match still stand?
In the meantime the pitch is still full of people to which groups of police or
army have now been added and who surround the perimeter of the pitch. The
confusion increases further when some Juventus players come onto the pitch and
close to our end of the ground. I seem to recognise Cabrini but I'm not sure.
It's late. The kick off time has passed. Scirea had said " we're playing for
you". I hope they haven't changed their minds. Inexplicably the pitch empties of
all people who had been on it before. Perhaps the Juve fans who had gone onto
the pitch have been moved to other areas of the stadium. We realise that many
fans to our right have gone away. Perhaps they've been frightened by the goings
on. We see a large empty space over the other side of the wire fence separating
our sectors. Lots of fans from our area move over and so do we so that we can
get a better view. There is no one there to stop us.
It's now after nine when the match starts. The minutes, which had dragged
earlier on, now fly past. The teams play quite well and everything seems normal.
I hope that everything is normal. Our team puts some good moves together but so
do they. They're strong, we knew that. Tacconi is beaten on more than one
occasion. The first half finishes 0-0. We all give our opinions, each one has
his own recipe for success, but no one seems too convinced. A shadow seems to be
hanging over us.
The teams come back onto the pitch. No changes in the Juve side. Ten minutes
flash past. Boniek starts a run. The excitement increases and becomes unbearable
when he is brought down by a Liverpool defender in the penalty area. Penalty !!
Has the referee given it? He has!! Platini takes it towards by the goal where
the trouble had been. Unlike normal, I watch him take it. GOAL! We are ahead.
How long left? Liverpool has no intention of losing and forces us back to our
own half. My heart is in overdrive. Tacconi saves everything. It's almost
finished. A substitution for Juve, Briaschi out and Prandelli in, to cover our
lead. The Trap has waited longer than usual to do this. We're almost there.
Another substitution. Vignola comes on for Rossi. It's over. We've won!!
We hug one another. Gino is crying but doesn't want to be seen. The area where
we were before is now a sea of black and white. We wait for the presentation, we
want to see the most desirable trophy. The minutes tick away but still nothing.
Have they lost it? More minutes but there is no one to be seen. What's
happening? Have they changed the ritual? No, here come the players, but they're
not all there. There's Platini who runs towards the goal. Photo. Then Tardelli
and Boniek right in front of us. Another photo. Who's this one with the
moustache? Favero. Another photo. I don't see any other juventini. Where is the
There is no one left on the pitch except the police and stewards and the stadium
begins to empty. Nothing else is going to happen tonight so we decide to leave
as well. We return to our coach. Careful of the red shirts, after what's
happened you never know!
We begin our journey back. We stop by a service station just outside Brussels.
It's closed. Why? At home they're always open, or almost. We carry on. We're
hungry. Another service station, but as soon as they see the coach someone
decides to close it. We stay hungry and do the best we can for our bodily
functions. We travel all night and arrive at the Swiss border just as dawn
breaks. Finally, a service station that's open. We stop and everyone makes a bee
line for the snack bar. They look at us in a strange way. A waitress is crying.
What's happening? I look for a news stand. I want to buy a copy of La Gazzetta
as a souvenir. I can't find any. Only newspapers in German. I buy one even if I
only have schoolboy knowledge of German but I recognise the word that covers the
front page next to a number that is too high to be true 'Toten'. The images that
I see carve a deep sadness in my mind and heart that will last with me forever.
We arrive home early afternoon. An acquaintance offers me a lift from the bus
station to my home. He tells me that the town had given me up for lost. I was at
the top of the list of fans that had left from my town. Those that had gone by
plane had arrived back first and had told of hearing my name called more than
once over the stadium loudspeaker. It seems incredible, I had heard nothing. He
tells me that my girlfriend had telephoned the Foreign Office but that they
hadn't been able to tell her anything. I get home. My mother hugs me and cries.
My father says nothing. He looks at me and leaves for work. Years later he was
to tell me that he had never experienced such fear, even in the war.
I have never wanted to see the recording of that evening.