Juventus are the most successful club in the history of Italian football.
With 35 Serie A titles – 37 according to Bianconeri fans – and 13 Coppa Italia victories, their dominance of the domestic game is evident, and they also became the first club to win all three major European competitions; the European Cup, European Cup Winners’ Cup, and the UEFA Cup.
Unfortunately, there have been some dark moments in the club’s history to go with the triumphs. Thirty-nine people, predominantly Juventus fans, lost their lives at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium before the Bianconeri won the European Cup in 1985 and they were relegated to Serie B in 2006 for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal.
On their return from the cadetti, La Vecchia Signora had to endure watching Inter dominate Serie A, but the Torinese club climbed back to the top of the league in the 2010s, establishing a domestic hegemony never seen before in the Italian game.
Changing of the Colours
When Juventus were formed by a group of high school students on November 1, 1897, the team wore pink jerseys and black trousers. That all changed in 1903 when Notts County football kits were brought over from the United Kingdom by former Juve player Gordon Thomas Savage and the Bianconeri jerseys have remained synonymous with the club since.
A Football Family Dynasty Begins
July 24, 1923 is one of the most important days in Juventus’ history as Edoardo Agnelli, the son of FIAT founder Giovanni, is elected president of the club. Before Agnelli’s arrival, the Bianconeri had won just one domestic title in 1905, but his election signalled the beginning of undoubtedly the greatest football dynasty in Italy. Tragically, his life was cut short in a plane crash in July 1935 at the age of 43.
Five Golden Years
The first season of professional league football in Italy commenced in 1929/30 and Inter, known at the time as Ambrosiana due to Fascist laws, won the first Serie A title. For the five following seasons, Juventus experienced one of the greatest periods in their history, known as “Il Quinquennio d’oro” or the Five-Year Golden Period.
Not only did the Bianconeri win five consecutive league titles in that period, nine players from the Torinese club were in the Italy squad for the 1934 World Cup including left-winger Raimundo Orsi, who scored the equaliser in the final, and goalkeeper Giampiero Combi, who captained the victorious Azzurri side on home soil.
A Club Legend Begins a Legacy
Italian football in the 1940s was dominated by Juventus’ city rivals Torino but La Vecchia Signora witnessed the meteoric emergence of a future club icon. Giampiero Boniperti made his debut in March 1947 and the forward from Novara went on to play 444 Serie A matches for Juve and scored 178 times, both of them were records when he retired in 1961.
He also went on to become Juventus president from 1971 until 1990, in a period when the club also established themselves as a force in Europe, and he is responsible for the club motto, “Winning is not the most important thing, it is the only thing that counts.”
The Magic Trio
In the summer of 1957, Juventus purchased Welsh centre-forward John Charles from English club Leeds United and Italo-Argentinian forward Omar Sivori from River Plate, and they formed an attacking trio with local star Giampiero Boniperti known as “Il Trio Magico” or “The Magic Trio”.
They played together for four seasons and won the Serie A title three times as well as the Coppa Italia twice. Juventus earned the first of their gold stars when they won the scudetto for the 10th time in 1957/58 and Sivori also won the Ballon d’Or in 1961.
Heriberto Herrera and Movimiento
Franco-Argentine tactician Helenio Herrera is one of the most famous coaches ever but his Paraguayan namesake Heriberto Herrera or HH2 had a respectable career coaching Juventus in the same decade.
HH2 had a strenuous relationship with star attacker Omar Sivori and forced the oriundo to transfer to Napoli at the end of the 1964/65 campaign. It was also the same season when the Bianconeri reached their first European final, losing 1-0 to Hungarian side Ferencvaros in the Fairs Cup Final, one of the forerunners of the Europa League.
Juve won the scudetto in 1966/67 under Herrera with a strict tactical system known as “movimiento” or movement in Spanish and it is considered to be one of the precursors to the Total Football of the Dutch sides of the 1970s.
The Golden Decade
Giovanni Trapattoni arrived from AC Milan in 1976 with some experience in diverse coaching roles and Juventus had just lost the Serie A title to city rivals Torino.
With “Trap” as coach, the Bianconeri won the lot in a period known as “Il Decennio d’oro” or The Golden Decade. Domestically, they won six Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies. Internationally, they won the 1977 UEFA Cup, 1984 European Cup Winners’ Cup, 1984 European Super Cup, 1985 European Cup, and 1985 Intercontinental Cup.
The Italian contingent of Trapattoni’s Juventus with the likes of Dino Zoff, Gaetano Scirea, Marco Tardelli, Claudio Gentile, Antonio Cabrini and Paolo Rossi also formed the core of Enzo Bearzot’s Italy, which won the 1982 World Cup.
Foreign stars Michel Platini of France and Zbigniew Boniek of Poland joined Juve after the tournament and became Bianconeri heroes. Platini also won his three Ballon d’Or trophies while he was playing for La Vecchia Signora.
After Trapattoni left at the end of the 1985/86 campaign, Juventus went eight seasons without a Serie A title, and he was not able to halt the dominance of AC Milan in his second spell from 1991 to 1994. Not even the presence of Roberto Baggio and Gianluca Vialli, who were purchased for record transfer fees from Fiorentina in 1990 and Sampdoria in 1992 respectively, could turn their fortunes around.
In the summer of 1994, Bianconeri president Umberto Agnelli appointed 1970s star Roberto Bettega as vice-president, Antonio Giraudo as CEO, and Luciano Moggi as general director, forming a trio infamously known as “The Triad”.
There were plenty of positives from that era. Under coach Marcello Lippi in two stints, Juventus won five Serie A titles, the 1994/95 Coppa Italia, the 1995/96 Champions League, the 1996 European Super Cup, and the 1996 Intercontinental Cup. Baggio was sold to AC Milan but it was the beginning of a great career at Juve for Alessandro Del Piero, who is now the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Their successes were seen with suspicion from those outside the club and there were accusations of doping and match-fixing being circulated.
Prior to the 2006 World Cup, Italian football was shocked to the core due to the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. Juventus directors Moggi and Giraudo were seen as the instigators and they were accused of influencing refereeing appointments.
Giraudo was banned from football for five years while Moggi was banned for life. Juventus were stripped of the 2004/05 and 2005/06 Serie A titles, demoted to Serie B, and started the 2006/07 season with a nine-point penalty.
This prompted stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluca Zambrotta, and Lilian Thuram to leave the club but the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Pavel Nedved, Del Piero, and David Trezeguet decided to help La Vecchia Signora regain their Serie A status.
Andrea Agnelli and Domestic Dominance
Juventus returned to Serie A in the 2007/08 season but the late 2000s was a lean period for the club.
Andrea Agnelli, the son of Umberto and nephew of Gianni, became the Bianconeri chairman in May 2010 and went about rebuilding the club. Former hero Antonio Conte was appointed coach in 2011 and they club won three consecutive Serie A titles. Between 2011 and 2012, they also went 49 league games without defeat.
Iconic goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had joined the club in 2001, but now he had a formidable defence of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini in front of him, and the trio became known as the BBC.
Conte was replaced by Massimiliano Allegri in the summer of 2014 and Juventus won four consecutive domestic doubles but European success evaded them. The arrival of Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was not enough to turn things around in the Champions League and Allegri departed at the end of the 2018/19 season.