Platini signs with Juve
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.
|Platini was chosen European
Player of the Year three times in a row whilst playing
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
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
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
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
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
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!