There comes a time in every world-class player's career when he decides to hang up his boots and place his achievements on the shelves alongside those of other legends. That time has now come for Mauro German Camoranesi, elected by Juve fans as one of the 50 best Bianconeri players in history.
He announced his decision to call time on his 20-year career back in February. A journey lasting two decades which saw him handed a one-way ticket to Italy in 2000 when he was spotted by Verona's scouts while playing in Mexico.
From Verona, Turin was just a small step away and that was where the exceptionally talented Argentine of Italian extraction followed in the footsteps of "Mumo" Orsi and Omar Sivori. He adapted to life at Juve in no time at all, immediately nailing down a regular starting berth with his South American flair, creativity and ball skills.
He won the Italian championship at the first time of asking and came within whiskers of a historic double in Manchester: he was in the Bianconeri line-up that agonisingly lost on penalties in the Champions League final.
During the course of his interview, Mauro recalled that European run as one of the most thrilling times of his career, describing the Juve's semi-final against Real Madrid as "the perfect match".
So coming face to face with his rivals of old – los Blancos – at the UNESCO Cup on 2 June was of course a wonderful experience for him. Just as it was for him to hear the roar of the stadium one last time as a player, a crowd that sang his name, fondly remembering the days when he used to patrol the Bianconeri flank.
"It was amazing. I'm thankful to Juventus because a game like that made us feel like footballers again, even though we know we're not anymore. The whole thing was brilliant. Going to the hotel, travelling by bus all together, arriving at the stadium and then the reception the crowd gave us, acknowledging us as important players for the club. For me personally it was a very special moment indeed."
288 games for the Bianconeri, made all the more special by his 32 goals but especially the three Scudetti and two Italian Super Cups he won. Eight seasons which he says were the very peak of his long and illustrious career as a football player.
"Playing for Juventus was the best experience in my footballing life," the Juve legend admitted. "It was my longest stint at any club as well as the most successful and exciting. As I’ve always said, it was the core of my career as a football player, the most important period."
It’s no coincidence that he’s been included in the top 50 Bianconeri players of all time as voted for by the fans.
"That means so much to me. I’m really touched. I’ve always said that. Hundreds of players have turned out for Juventus, all playing at the highest level, and to have been chosen as one of the top 50… and especially to have been chosen by the fans, is the best recognition I could ever have had. I’m very honoured and proud and it means I must have been doing something right during those eight years."
Our chat with ‘Camo’ was also the opportunity to ask him his opinion on the Vecchia Signora’s next campaign following her historic treble of consecutive Scudetto wins.
"I think Juventus are very well set, especially after three consecutive Scudetto wins!" he replied. "And Europe will be a challenge."
There were words of praise for his friend and former team-mate Antonio Conte, a veteran of many a battle in the Juve midfield in their two seasons together. Conte followed a path – one from the football pitch to his role as coach at a big club – that Camoranesi also dreams of taking.
"He was a fantastic team-mate who showed everyone a lot of respect. He was the type of player who would grab the team by the scruff of the neck and carry it forward, and he does the same thing as a coach today: he drives everyone on. His passion is infectious, as is his desire. He’s a leader. He was a leader as a player and continues to be a leader as a coach."
He then added: "Those of us who are part of the 'new generation' have a different way of thinking and interpreting football. I like Conte's mentality, just as I like Montella's and Prandelli's – they're all part of a different generation from the coaches I had."
Forty years after the previous oriundo to play for Italy, Angelo Benedicto Sormani, El Gaucho Camoranesi also forced his way into the Azzurri team following some fantastic performances: just three years after playing his first game for Italy, the skilful winger became one of the 23 Azzurri heroes to sprint across the pitch at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, letting out all their joy at becoming world champions.
So, before Prandelli’s Italy took on Costa Rica in Brazil, it was only natural to ask him a question on the 2014 World Cup, a competition 12 Bianconeri are taking part in (six with the Azzurri).
"It’s a very positive time for Juventus players. Those who played in Italy’s opening game made a very good impression, but so did the other Juve players. Uruguay are back in the hunt to get out of the group stage, while Chile will be one of the revelations of this World Cup."
Camoranesi did not, however, want to predict who will eventually lift the trophy in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, instead simply saying that, in his opinion, "this year the World Cup won’t being leaving South America."
Camo has enjoyed watching the football fiesta in Brazil over the previous days, taking a deserved rest before he embarks on the new adventure ahead of him: that of being a football coach.
"After the World Cup I will start to look for a club to work with. I’ve been very lucky as I’ve always worked with some fantastic coaches: I’ve learnt a lot from them. I’ll start my coaching career when I find the right club, somewhere I’m able to express myself. Europe, the United States, South America, it matters little to me… what matters is that I find the right place to develop my philosophy on how football should be played."
Mauro, a Juventus legend, deserves our heartfelt wishes as he pursues his coaching career, one we hope will be as illustrious as the playing career he had in Turin during the seasons he wore the Bianconeri shirt with pride.