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Platini signs with Juve

Platini was chosen European Player of the Year three times in a row whilst playing for Juventus.
On April 30, 1982, the French playmaker (who was wearing St-Etienne’s jersey back then) took the plane heading to Turin and eventually signed a two-year contract with Juventus. That’s the beginning of one huge adventure. Three times France Football Ballon D’Or remembers it as if it was yesterday. By Antonio Felici.

On the eve of May 1st, 1982, in the Italian peninsula’s sportive newspapers offices, there is total panic. Late, very late, news coming from Turin sewed discord in the neat lay-out columns and put the newspapers editors under the obligation of remaking the headlines: Michel Platini has just signed with Juventus!

That piece of news kind of surprised everybody. Indeed, a couple of days earlier, chairman Giampiero Boniperti - thanks to serious help of Fiat’s leaders - had sealed Zbigniew Boniek’s transfer to the Bianconeri’s. Everybody thought they were done with recruitment.

Some weeks beforehand, the FederCalcio had allowed Serie A’s clubs to hire a second foreigner, following the reopening of the borders two years earlier. So, the Polish forward was to keep company to Irish playmaker Liam Brady, who arrived at Juve during summer 1980. At least that’s what the tifosi thought.

And how could it be any different ? Coach Giovanni Trapattoni keeps on repeatating that Brady gives him full satisfaction, and it’s hard to imagine the Piemont club’s circle compromising the team’s quietude whereas they’re side by side with Fiorentina at the top of the rankings, with only 3 days left.

Same apparent calm amongst the media, too busy introducing Boniek, and also praising Paolo Rossi’s programmed return to competition when Juventus meets Udinese, after 2 years of suspension following the Totonero scandal. But l’Avvocato has other plans in mind. To Gianni Agnelli, Fiat owner and Juve’s big boss, the number 10 bianconero is to be French. He completely fell in love with Platini’s game, style and character. The rich Italian businessman even went to Saint-Etienne just to see him with his own eyes. He was very impressed by his free-kicks sessions against moss mannequins, which were revolutionary back then.

The guys met, they discussed for a long a time. Then, l’Avvocato told Boniperti and Trapattoni about his wish. He did it his way of course, without dictating anything, he just praised the technical qualities of Platini in front of his two interlocutors.

All Boniperti had to do then was to secretly organize the transfer. Just like in a spy movie. All was sealed in the end : Juve’s leaders take the plane, they bring back the AS Saint-Etienne player, two days after the Parc des Princes friendly France-Peru that Michel Hidalgo’s boys end up losing (0-1), and they start the negotiations away from unwanted eyes.

Twenty years later, Giampiero Boniperti is still proud of what he did. But still impregnated with the time’s atmosphere, the former Juve boss, retired from business nowadays, doesn’t feel like evoking his remembrances : « I will soon tell about all that in a book »

As for Michel Platini himself, he doesn’t look for the exit door. He remembers precisely these few hours when he gave his career a new direction by chosing to cross the Alps : « It happened on April 30, 1982. Twenty years ago ? Woah ! I remember everything. This very morning, I took the plane along with Bernard Genestar [his agent back then]. I was in talks with Arsenal, but Boniperti travelled to see me just after France-Italy (on February 23, 2-0 including one goal from Platini). And so, Bernard told me : «We’re going to Italy, to discuss». I went there, and I signed with Juve. Bernard knew I would, but as far as I’m concerned, I went there just like that, you know. I didn’t leave with the idea I would sign anything.

Claude Bez was waiting at home, along with Didier Couécou. They took us unaware, in order to convince me I should go to Bordeaux, with their argumentation based mostly on the good quality of life there etc. My wife told them that I was away shopping, that I would be back. And then, around 6pm, Claude Bez left. He called home 15 minutes later, after the news had been unveiled on Europe 1 [French radio station] : «I hold no grudges on you. I understand. Best of luck !» Huge politeness ! He had waited 3 hours for me to get back from shopping. Whereas I was in Italy, but Christine couldn’t tell him where I was.

We signed at Sisport, next to the Pô, not at the club. I arrived with Bernard aboard an armoured car because it was the end of the Red Brigades. Philippe Piat (he was already the UNPF president, pro players syndicate) was there too. And Bernard brought 2 or 3 Italian lawyers with him. When he saw that, Boniperti immediately send Piat and the lawyers back : «They have nothing to do here. We shall discuss between us.»

And so we discussed. Everything went right. Boniperti left to eat. I think he visited l’Avvocato in the meantime. Meanwhile, we ate sandwiches. Everything had to be settled before 6pm. The mercato’s deadline. But at 5pm, a little problem occured : who would pay the indemnities?

Indeed, I wrote in the contract I had with Saint-Etienne: «if UEFA regulations intervene in the transfer, the sum of my indemnity is 800000 francs. And of course, if not, no indemnities to pay, since I was a free agent. That’s the reason why Philippe Piat was there, it was in his interest to defend that project.»

So, I call Roger Rocher at 5 and I tell him : «Mr President, I found an agreement with Juve. Can you send me the exit mail ?» He replies : «I need 800000 francs to proceed.» Me: «How so ?» Him: «It’s written in the contract. If you leave, it’s 800000 francs. If I don’t receive this sum, I shall not send the mail.»

So we kept talking during an hour trying to determine who had to pay. Bernard told Boniperti : «OK, you pay the indemnity.» Juve’s president retorted: «No, I won’t. Because we pay Michel Platini according to the fact he is free. That means you have to pay.» We kept discussing like that until I told Boniperti : «Listen to me, I signed a two years contract. You pay those 800000 francs. And in two years time, if I leave, you can sell me for 800000 francs ! His face lit up: «Now that‘s a good idea!» So, Juve were the one who paid the 800000 francs to Saint-Etienne. We received the mail. We made the contract in English, since I had yet to learn Italian back then.

We left Lyon by plane, and some guy from the control tower must have called Europe 1 or something (and eventually received 5000 francs for that), probably leeking : «Michel Platini’s plane just took off to… Milan.» Which is normal since Milan was part of the flight plan to Turin. And so, Saccomano called AC Milan and Inter, both ignorant what he was talking about. Then, he hit Boniperti and asked for Genestar. Bernard thought it was his secretary. Saccomano told him : «Ah, you’re in Turin!» And then he announced : «Platini to Juve» Without knowing that he had already signed. The contract was deposited at the last minute of the last authorized day for foreign players transfers.

Boniperti was terribly embarassed as he had confirmed Brady only 3 days earlier. Now he had to announce him I was coming and he was free to go wherever he wanted to. Not an easy thing to do! Before joining Juve, I had called Inter to know if they were interested in me. I had signed a contract with the Milanese 3 years earlier. But since the borders were closed back then, the contract was null and void. Inter’s bosses thought I was injured or something, they answered me : «No, you can go. We just signed Hansi Muller. Do what you want!»

On May 1st, 1982, Michel Platini was making the headline of whole Italian media. «Juve! Platini too» La Gazzetta dello Sport titled, placing the transfer in the continuity of Boniek’s. They also revealed that the player would earn an annual salary of 400m lira, around €300000.

What about Brady ? He took the news very professionaly, even scoring the penalty that ensured the Bianconeri their 20th scudetto, during the last championship week, on Catanzaro’s pitch. And he didn’t miss the opportunity to take his revenge when he beat Juve in Sampdoria’s colours. An epiphenomenom in the glorious transalpine career of «Le Roi Michel»…


This article is entitled from "Platini signs with Juve", taken from France Football, issue 2925, May 3rd, 2002 . The images are not original. A million thanks to Stephane for the translation!