What do Italians Call Juventus? A Deep Dive into the Nicknames and History of Italy‘s Most Successful Club

As a football fanatic and Serie A enthusiast, I am constantly fascinated by the rich history and culture behind Italy‘s clubs. And there is no club quite as storied or decorated as Juventus Football Club from Turin. In this in-depth guide for fellow calcio lovers, we‘ll explore the various nicknames for Juventus used by Italians and examine how this club became a pillar of Italian football.

La Vecchia Signora – The Old Lady

One of the most common appellations used for Juventus is "La Vecchia Signora" meaning "The Old Lady" in English. This nickname was coined in the early 1900s and it refers to Juventus being one of the oldest and most respected clubs in the history of Italian football.

Juventus were founded in November 1897 by a group of Massimo D‘Azeglio high school students in Turin. The club was started by teenagers with a passion for the game, so they chose the Latin name "Juventus" meaning "Youth." Little did they know this club started on a whim would go on to become the most successful team in Italy.

By the early 1900s, Juventus had already established themselves as one of the top clubs in the country, winning their first Italian Football Championship in 1905. According to football historian John Foot, the nickname "The Old Lady" first became popular around this era to acknowledge Juventus as a pioneer of calcio and one of the venerable institutions of the Italian game.

Over a century later, despite the rise and fall of countless clubs, Juventus endures. The Old Lady remains as elegant and determined as ever, continuing to set the standard in Serie A. To this day, "La Vecchia Signora" is uttered as a sign of respect by fans and opposing teams alike.

Bianconeri – The Black and Whites

"Bianconeri" meaning "The Black and Whites" is an epithet that describes one of Juventus‘ most iconic symbols – their white and black striped jerseys. These distinctive vertical stripes have been worn by Juve players for most of the club‘s existence.

Juventus first donned black and white striped shirts in 1903, adopting the colors of their founding students‘ high school. There was a period in the 1930s when Juventus temporarily wore a red shirt at the insistence of Mussolini‘s fascist regime. But the club reverted to the iconic black and white stripes in 1933.

By this point, the bold stripes had become synonymous with the Juventus image. The shirt proved so popular that it was impossible to replace. The colors are based on the official coat of arms of Turin, Juve‘s home city. Italians also affectionately refer to Juventus as "La Zebra" or the zebras due to the distinct striped pattern.

To this day, the Black and Whites remain one of the best known kits in world football. There is no mistaking that distinct vertical stripe design, whether its Platini, Del Piero or Dybala donning the jersey. Even away from home, Juventus wear white and black to retain that iconic look.

La Fidanzata d’Italia – Italy’s Girlfriend

Juventus have contributed more players to the Italian national team than any other club. Acknowledging this close relationship, fans coined the nickname "La Fidanzata d’Italia" meaning "Italy‘s Girlfriend."

This star-crossed bond between Italy and Juventus began in the 1930s with players like Raimundo Orsi and Luis Monti leading the Azzurri to World Cup glory in 1934. By 1982, six Juve starters powered Italy to their first World Cup triumph in 44 years. Giants like Zoff, Scirea, Tardelli, Rossi, Cabrini, and Gentile were all Juventus players.

The tradition continues to this day with modern legends like Buffon, Bonucci, Chiellini, and Barzagli forming the spine of the Italian national team. At Euro 2021, 13 out of Italy‘s 26 man squad were Juventus players. Across almost a century, Juventus and Italy have shared their greatest triumphs and darkest moments.

So next time you see the Azzurri take the field, look closely because the Old Lady will likely be there guiding them along, just as any good girlfriend would.

Juventini – Devoted Fans of Juventus

The fans of Juventus are affectionately called "Juventini", similar to how AC Milan fans are known as Milanisti. They make up one of the largest fanbases in Italian football with over 12 million supporters worldwide.

The first organized groups of Juventus fans emerged in the early 1920s with the first supporters club founded in Turin. By the 1970s, ultra groups started popping up and congregating in the Curva Sud end of the Stadio Olimpico and later Delle Alpi. The largest ultra group is "Drughi" which today gathers in the south stand of Juve‘s current home, the Allianz Stadium.

Juventini are known for their undying devotion to the Bianconeri. Wherever Juve plays, you will find a faithful, boisterous horde of black and white clad supporters championing their team on to victory. They proudly wear the colors, sing the chants, and wave the flags of Juventus, win or lose.

This undying passion for the Old Lady has been passed down from generation to generation in families and communities across Turin. To be born in Turin is to be born a Juventini. It is more than fandom, it is an identity rooted in tradition.

Gobbi – The Hunchbacked Lady

While Juventini worship their beloved Vecchia Signora, fans of opposing teams, especially city rivals Torino, mockingly refer to Juventus as "Gobbi" meaning "Hunchbacks."

The origin of this disparaging nickname dates back to the early 20th century when wool jerseys were common in football. Due to the heavy, baggy nature of the wool material, the shirts would stretch and bunch up between the shoulder blades of players while sweating and running during matches. This created a hunchbacked effect, with the fabric forming a hump on players‘ backs.

Rival supporters began mocking this deformity, calling Juventus players gobbi as a term of ridicule. The nickname became popular with anti-Juve fans who sought to knock the Old Lady off her perch. Torino supporters who desired football supremacy in Turin spearheaded this campaign of insults.

Though unpleasant in nature, the nickname is a begrudging acknowledgement of Juventus‘ dominance even by opposing fans. While the hunchback jibes continue today especially during heated Turin derbies, Juventini embrace the name as a badge of honor. To them, it symbolizes the weight of glory they carry on their backs.

Piemonte Calcio – A Video Game Placeholder

From FIFA 19 through FIFA 22, Juventus were known as "Piemonte Calcio" in EA Sports‘ popular football video game series. This was due to licensing disputes that prevented the club‘s real name and kits from being used.

Piemonte is the region of Italy where Juventus‘ home city of Turin is situated. Calcio of course means football in Italian. So Electronic Arts combined the two words as a placeholder while legal issues got sorted.

For four straight years, gamers had to play as Piemonte Calcio with fake kits and crests pasted onto a simulated version of Allianz Stadium. It just wasn‘t the same without that iconic JUVE on the chest. Finally in 2024, Juventus are back in FIFA, to the relief of digital Juventini worldwide!

In many ways, this saga encapsulates how intrinsically tied Juventus are to Italian football. Serie A without the true Bianconeri just feels empty. To fans abroad who only know these players from video games, seeing "Piemonte Calcio" reinforced how synonymous Juve are with calcio.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Juventus in Italian Football

As we‘ve explored, Juventus have accumulated several iconic nicknames over 130 years of history that capture the essence of what this club means to Italy. She is the Old Lady, the dashing Bianconeri, the faithful girlfriend of the national team, and sometimes the hobbled Gobbi bearing the weight of glory.

Beyond the nicknames, Juventus are woven into the fabric of Italian football. Their profound impact stretches from the earliest days of Serie A to the digital realm of EA Sports. As the most successful club in Italy, they set the standard that others aspire to reach.

Juve provides a connective thread from past to present with their timeless black and white stripes. Their players form the pillars of the Azzurri. Their fans are among the most passionate in the world. In many ways, Juventus is calcio. So whether you call them Juve, La Vecchia Signora, the Zebras, or Piemonte Calcio, pay your respects to this pillar of Italian football!

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