Juventus, one of the most famous names in Italian football, have had incredible success since their inception over 100 years ago. ‘The Old Lady’, as they are fondly called have over 30 Italian league titles and cups, and have also been victorious in European competitions on several occasions. Apart from winning titles, the Italian giants have had a history of signing some of the best players to come out of their generation, leading them to glory.
Let's have a look at 5 of the best players to have signed by Juventus.
#5 Ciro Ferrara
After spending all of his professional career playing in Napoli with the likes of Diego Maradona and winning a number of titles on the way, Ciro Ferrara earned a move to Italy’s biggest club, Juventus, in the summer of 1994.
In a period of 11 years at the club, Ferrara was one of the few players who was always guaranteed a starting berth when fit. He was consistently world-class for the entire length of his Juventus career, in which he made 358 appearances for the Old Lady and scored 20 important goals for them.
His presence in the backline gave them the proverbial ‘rock at the back’ that every elite team needs, as they won 6 Serie A titles, a Champions League, an Intercontinental Cup and a Coppa Italia during his tenure at the club.
Ferrara’s positioning, silky style of play with the ball and his typically Italian no-holds-barred approach to marking allowed him to dominate at his position even in his late-30s, and many critics regard that his overall influence on the game actually grew from what it was before he moved to Juventus.
Although his appearances became more and more sporadic as his age wore on, his quality did not decline, and Ferrara received another Serie A winners’ medal in 2004-05 as a last bow to his professional career, which he ended at the age of 38.
#4 John Charles
John Charles, a Welsh striker, transferred to Juventus from Leeds United for £65000, which was then the British record for a transfer. As one of the few British players to ever venture out of the island, Charles was expected to have a tough time initially in Serie A, but he defied all odds and scored 28 goals en route to the Serie A title and was declared the Serie A Player of the Season.
As one of the most complete players in football history, Charles was equally effective at both the centre forward and the centre back positions. His immense 6’ 2” build allowed him to leap high and win balls in the air, and perfect the art of the headed goal, defeating most defenders in aerial duels.
Besides his aerial prowess, Charles’ sense of positioning, tackling and pure ability to use his body well made him a nightmare of a player for opposition teams to deal with. He was a technically perfect player as well, with the ability to find the right gaps in defences while passing, or carrying the ball forward in a mazy dribble.
In his 5-year spell at Juve, Charles was outright the best player to set foot on Italian soil. He led them to 3 Serie A titles and 2 Coppa Italias.
Apart from being an incredible goal scorer and team player, John Charles was a complete gentleman both on and off the pitch. He was never yellow-carded in his entire career, and his non-combative style of play endeared him to Juve fans even more.
#3 Alessandro del Piero
Undoubtedly the best young player ever bought by Juventus, del Piero’s arrival at the club revitalised their squad of title-winning players like Michael Laudrup and Michel Platini. In his very first full start, he scored a hat-trick against Parma and allayed the fears of doubters.
Although he spent most of his first season on the bench, he got his opportunity mid-way through his second season as Baggio got injured in November. This paved the way for him to start in his favoured no. 10 role. By the end of the season, del Piero had 11 goals in 50 appearances and led Juve as their best attacking player to a league-and-Cup double. The legend of the ‘Del-Piero zone’ began with this season, as his trademark move was to cut in from the left wing and curl a shot into the far corner past the goalkeeper.
He continued in the same vein for the rest of his illustrious Juve career, netting a total of 290 goals over 19 illustrious seasons for the club, including one season in Serie B, when he was approached by a number of top European clubs but refused to move. He has built an unmatched legacy for himself, and his loyalty, quality and gentlemanly approach won him admirers from all quarters.
During his time with the Turin club, he won 8 Serie A, a Coppa Italia and a Champions League title to go along with his extremely impressive goalscoring record. del Piero cemented his place in football history as an all-time great, and Juve’s transfer market astuteness deserves some credit for this.
#2 Michel Platini
During Platini’s 5-year spell at the Turin-based club, Juventus won its first ever European Cup trophy, a Cup-Winners’ Cup, 2 Serie A crowns and another Coppa Italia title, while dominating all of its rivals even after the arrival of attacking midfielders of the likes of Diego Maradona, Zico and Socrates.
Platini was the most dependable and brilliant footballer in the mid-1980s, as was evidenced by his hat-trick of Ballon D’Or trophies in 1983, 84 and 85. Although overshadowed by the brilliance of Diego Maradona, his class shone through at all points in his career, with the years of 1984 and 1985 being his very best ones.
After heartbreak in the European Cup final against Hamburg in 1983, Platini was revitalised and motivated for the following season, during which he led Juventus to the Serie A title before winning the European Championships on home soil with France. He continued in the same vein in his 3rd season at Juve, netting 7 goals in the European Cup and helping Juventus to their first ever European Cup victory and getting a personal best of 29 goals in the season.
In 5 years at the club, Platini remoulded the role of the no. 10 with 103 goals in 222 appearances and set down a marker for players of the future. While initially during his career, the no. 10 role was looked to as more of a players’ player and an assist man, Platini’s more direct, individual style of play yielded better results for him.
#1 Gianluigi Buffon
It is of little surprise that perhaps the greatest goalkeeper of this generation, Gianluigi Buffon, still holds the record for the highest transfer fee for any goalkeeper. And, boy, has he paid back on the promise that prompted Juve to splurge over €50 million on a goalkeeper in 2001. After rejecting Barcelona, who have since gone on to win 4 Champions League titles, Buffon still has had the performances to make his Juve move seem the best one possible.
In his time at Juventus, Buffon has 9 Serie A titles in 15 seasons – while 2 of those titles were revoked because of the Calciopoli scandal. He also helped Juventus win 2 Coppa Italia titles that he has won in the past 2 seasons.
Although his 2 appearances in the UEFA Champions League final have been heartbreaks for him and his teams despite their best efforts, Buffon has still enjoyed enough success as Juve’s knight in shining armour, to bail them out of many tight spots. Consistently displaying world-class standards of performance, Buffon has been named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year 9 times during his Juve spell, and 4 times been awarded the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper in the World.
To top it all, he has been even more of a fan favourite ever since he elected not to leave Juventus after their relegation to Serie B following the fallouts of the Calciopoli scandal. He remains one of the best in the world today even at his age of 38. There may not be anything stopping him from one last bow at the 2018 World Cup in Russia for Italy.