Your J-identity – Memories in Black and White

“Deep Red” by Marcello Capozzi

In 1975, the year of my birth, Dario Argento’s film “Deep Red” was also released. What does it mean? We will understand that later.

On May 25, 1983, in the province of Naples, it had rained. I know this because I peeked into the historical archives. I can’t say whether the rain came in the morning or in the evening…

Perhaps my father would know, but unfortunately, he’s no longer with us. I do remember, though, that he had bought the Gazzetta dello Sport. You know?! At that time, people could read it; it was quite impartial. There had been a long wait for the mother of all matches, the Champions’ Cup final (how beautiful it is just to pronounce it!). It wasn’t yet the “circus” of the so-called Champions League; only the champions of the various nations participated.

Juventus arrived at the final after a remarkable journey, which was supposed to be a mere formality. I don’t recall if the Neapolitans of that time jinxed it, but there was certainly no hostility like today. People teased each other, but in a way, they respected each other. Unfortunately, those were different times.

And evening came.

On the second floor of a building owned by a well-known Camorra boss, there lived a family of passionate Juventus fans, and in the adjacent apartments, there were two other families: one supporting Napoli and the other, a remarkable one, consisting of a mother and three children who had lost their father, and they were fans of Juve, Inter, and Napoli – how wonderful the variety was! We were the only ones with a color TV, not because we were the richest, quite the opposite! But because Mom and Dad never let us lack for anything. The year before, on the eve of the World Cup, my brother dropped the brown Seleco TV forward, destroying it. To ensure he wouldn’t miss the final of the 1982 World Cup, my father took out more loans and bought a black Grundig TV. I believe he paid over a million lire for it!

He seemed almost happy that my brother had broken the Seleco TV because the Grundig was German, and my father believed that German things lasted longer. Speaking of Germans, it was with them that we were competing for the Cup. My room was filled with people from the entire floor, just like during the World Cup final! I thought it was a good omen, and who could possibly beat the team that had easily eliminated the defending champions, Aston Villa?

Who could beat my idol Paolo Rossi, the star of the Brazil match? I remember the match starting with a header by Bettega, and the Hamburg goalkeeper made an amazing save. We understood that it wouldn’t be easy, but we thought we would make it. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a shot from 30 meters away silently found the net, and that’s when I discovered that even the net of the goal was red. Until that moment, I hadn’t even noticed.

A strange silence enveloped us. Something illogical had happened, a mocking trajectory that seemed to taunt our arrogance, our belief that we had won even before playing. The worst part was that Juventus didn’t recover throughout the first half. I remember few things from that match, Platini’s protests, yes, but nobody made much fuss about a penalty that, when you watch it on videos today, is clear-cut! It seems that even the Hamburg players admitted it. Those were the days when there was less talk and more play! I’ve revisited the other chances on YouTube a few years ago; I didn’t remember them so vividly.

When Cabrini missed the penalty against Germany in ’82, my father had exclaimed, “We don’t need to win with a penalty!” But that evening, he simply said, “This Cup is cursed.” Yet we hadn’t lost the match with the great Ajax of Cruijff, and this match with Hamburg wasn’t over yet. Why was it cursed? It’s as if he already knew what would happen in the years to come, or perhaps he remembered Juventus’s other European campaigns in the Champions’ Cup. I saw those red shirts celebrating at the end of the match, a terrible pain. I still dream of that shot by Felix Magath that found the net: DEEP RED! I think I need a therapist for this because I can’t overcome the trauma on my own. But maybe it’s better this way; that vivid memory keeps alive a moment of childhood. All returned to their apartments, and the next day, it was back to work under the ridiculous conditions in the South in the 1980s.

For my brother and me, there remained a deep scar from an event that marked us forever. We had lost our sports innocence, as if for the first time, we had collided with the harsh reality of life, as if a great loss had touched our lives. Yet it was just soccer. There is an unspoken agreement among us: never to talk about that match, which was supposed to be a parade but turned into a sporting “tragedy.” Those who are older than me could tell the story better, but certainly, those who didn’t experience it missed a moment that ultimately united us: the Gods fell, but from there, they rose again and gave us Olympus. Only us! Only us! We sang this in the years to come!

An absolute and unparalleled champion brought us to the top of the world. There were many victories and few defeats, and then there was a great tragedy. But that’s another story.

To the Avvocato, the greatest Juventus fan of all time.