18 June 2021
For 15 years, from 1946 to 1961, Giampero Boniperti represented Juventus on the pitch, for a total of 459 games, a feat that hadn't been previously managed by anyone ever before. “One match would have been enough to be happy forever, I'm sure of that. It went even better." A fantastic story, absolutely unique. Boniperti was born on 22nd May 1946, and when he trialled with the Juventus reserve team and scored 7 goals at Fossano, the club wasted no time and made him sign the contract in the underpass that led to the changing rooms!
THE YOUNG CHAMPION
At the age of 18, Boniperti made his league debut, and in his second match, which was a trip to Genoa against Sampdoria, he already scored a brace. In the first tournament of his "apprenticeship" and by playing great football, he scores five goals in just six games. The future is already there in this explosive start, which he certifies in the following year by conquering the top scorer charts. Then, in 1950, with the Danish double-act of John Hansen and Carl Aage Praest, he forms an extraordinary attacking trio. Juventus scores 100 goals en route to winning the Scudetto. For Giampiero, (in the photo you can even see the famous Black and White stripes under his shirt) it is the first great satisfaction in his career, which will be followed by his second Scudetto two years later.
In what becomes a recurring theme, Juventus is called upon to say "no" to the many clubs that court Boniperti, rightly considering him the best Italian player of his time. "I have had so many offers: Inter, Milan, Rome, the Great Torino", he said, with the pride of someone who has worn only one shirt in his career. In this photo we see him unusually facing an opponent in black and white, whilst he wears a green uniform bordered with black and white with the Italian tricolour.
THE ITALIAN OF EUROPE
One of his greatest achievements as a player was obtained on 21st October 1953. Giampiero Boniperti, here in the blue jersey, is the only Italian called up for the Rest of Europe to face England. The skill of the Juventus player enchants everyone, as the match ends 4-4 and Boniperti scores two goals. When asked what it would take to strengthen his team, England coach Walter Winterbottom replies without hesitation: "11 Boniperti".
The centre-forward is the role in which he has played in the most. Boniperti, as a number 9, seeks the most direct way to reach the goal. There are no exaggerations in his repertoire, there is concreteness and efficiency. An essentiality, translated by him into a formula that enforces using instinct when it comes to the most important aspect: "The best shots succeed when you don't think about it, or when you make a mistake, but the ball still goes into the net."
"Boniperti shot quickly and hit the ball with both feet": this is one of the descriptions from journalist, Gianni Brera, that emphasises some of the characteristics that will be very important for the last part of his career. When Giampiero dropped back further from goal, he covered more areas of the pitch and helped create the goals of John Charles and Omar Sivori. Work that the great Omar defined perfectly: "Boniperti is a playmaker with very clear ideas, he directs the traffic."
Giampiero Boniperti with one of the most legendary uniforms in the history of Juventus, the one that celebrates the victory of the 10th Scudetto, the first to host a star. The 1957-58 championship, which saw the Old Lady triumph, is framed by his first and last goals of Juventus' perfect season. This opens up a new cycle of great successes to come.
Giampiero Boniperti, here, receiving the Coppa Italia with President Umberto Agnelli, retires from football in 1961. His career ends in the midst of a period of triumphs, with three Serie A titles and two Coppa Italias in four years. It would go on to be no coincidence that to return to an era of continuous victories it will be necessary to call on his managerial skills as a director, when everything he learnt in many years as a leading man on the pitch will be applied in a different method.
Giampiero Boniperti is the captain: this is probably the most recurring and most popular image. More than the goals, more than the victories, more than his excellent technical play, as a player he was remembered for how he was able to represent Juventus. He did it with an enormous sense of responsibility and with the conviction of someone who truly loves the club: "I did my part without sacrifices, because I gave what I had inside."