The two giants of the game said their farewells to Serie A on Sunday with a goal apiece as the home fans got the last word they wanted from their heroes
By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor
Welcome to the real world everybody. This is a place where more than just a glass slipper is needed to turn your dusty rags into a stunning ballgown, no toad becomes a handsome prince with a simple kiss and wicked queens are not undone by dwarves and magic mirrors. Instead it’s a place where real fairytale endings happen, and sometimes twice in one afternoon.
In the past week, many people on the streets of Milan and Turin have been discussing potential perfect finishes for Filippo Inzaghi and Alessandro Del Piero. And on Sunday, they all got their wish.
At San Siro, AC Milan were digging deep in search of a winner against lowly Novara having earlier fallen behind. With a quarter of the game remaining, Massimiliano Allegri called upon Inzaghi, something he has done rarely during his two years in charge, hoping that the No.9 could inject what was needed in front of goal. And boy, did he deliver it.
FILIPPO INZAGHI AT MILAN
Eight minutes remained when Clarence Seedorf, like Inzaghi appearing in his final game for the Rossoneri, chipped the ball forward towards the striker. ‘Superpippo’ responded by taking the ball down and firing a volley superbly beyond Alberto Fontana.
It was a moment like few others in his 623-game career, with the whole Milan team mobbing him in celebration and the roof practically coming off the stadium. While Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta and Gennaro Gattuso were also waving goodbye after over a decade with the club, it was Pippo that the fans wanted to see score the winner more than anything they’ve wanted since Athens in 2007.
To a born goalscorer like Inzaghi, it was the only way to say goodbye.
Over at Juventus Stadium, there was always going to be something of a party atmosphere, with the Bianconeri having already clinched the Scudetto and the celebrations scheduled for shortly after full-time. But it was late in the first half when the home fans were treated to the cherry on top.
Emanuele Giaccherini played a low pass in to the departing Alessandro Del Piero, who curled home a superb low strike from 25 yards. Crowded by his contemporaries, the fans could hardly see their hero for the men in pink wanting to congratulate him. His 290th goal for the club was his last in Turin, and having known that today would be his curtain call made it no less emotive when it happened.
ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO AT JUVENTUS
When his number 10 came up on the substitutions board in the 57th minute, the party really started. First, every single player on the pitch received him with a high-five, a handshake or a pat on the head. Some gave all three. He went to sit on the bench, giving coach Antonio Conte only a cursory glance on the way, but he wouldn’t stay there for long.
‘Del Piero sotto la curva’ demanded the fans. They wanted to congratulate their hero close-up. He obliged, taking a slow walk in front of all four stands as the game continued behind him.
But the match didn’t matter anymore. All the supporters cared about was giving their captain the send-off he deserved. Little over half an hour later, he received the ultimate prize, getting his hands on the Scudetto for the eighth time in his career.
It was the perfect way to say goodbye to the Juventus fans, and while they will get an encore at the Coppa Italia final next Sunday, this was more than enough. Two giants have left Serie A today, and have waved a fond farewell as winners. It was the only way they played their careers, and they more than anyone deserved their fairytale endings.