I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve had quite the blogging hiatus, mostly due to work, soccer and laziness :) So I thought I would come back with a post about my experiences yesterday meeting the team, for the second time. For those of you reading who do not know me, I’ll rewind to May 2010, when Juventus was in Toronto for a friendly against Fiorentina.
Last May, Juve arrived late to Toronto’s Pearson airport. I, of course, was trapped at work and unable to get to the airport. Later that night, while out with two of my friends from Niagara, I came up with the brilliant idea to phone hotels in Toronto to see if I could track the team down. First up, The Westin Harbour Castle. I had called from my cell phone and asked to be connected to Hasan Salihamidizc’s room. My logic was that if you can say this name and better yet spell it, you are legit. To my surprise they connected me to his room. Jackpot. There was no answer, so I left a voicemail saying something to the effect of “Hi Hasan, my name this Catherine…blah blah blah this is my phone number….”
Later that night, around 2:00am, I had a blocked number calling me. I thought that it was one of my friends messing around, so I didn’t answer. I thought nothing of it.
The next day, Juve had planned to come down to Niagara Falls. After waiting for a couple of hours with my sister, I decided that I would call the hotel again. We weren’t sure if they were going to come to Niagara still, so I figured I would call and if they answered then we knew that they were not coming to Niagara. This time, I tried David. Yes, David Trezeguet. Again, I got the voicemail. I of course left a message.
Later that night, we headed to a gala dinner in Woodbridge. We were supposed to have met the team, but of course the Juventus Club DOC Toronto had lied to everyone. It was more of a press conference than anything else. No one met the team. I thought of the bright idea to head down to the hotel. So we got in the car, “we” being my mom, my sister and I (yes, my mother is THAT badass). I also saw my new friend Taylor sitting at her table, so I invited her to come along for the adventure. We headed down to the Westin and entered the hotel. Keep in mind we were all wearing dresses, so security thought nothing of it. We searched literally every floor. Then, on one of the last floors we checked, I noticed a San Benedetto water bottle in the hallway. As if this wasn’t a dead give away. So, I knocked on the door. An unimpressed Juventus staff member opened the door. He said he was going to bed and not to bother him. Okay, got it. Next, we saw a group of trainers walk by. We saw which room they entered, so I did the only thing rational, I knocked on the door. I spoke to the trainers asking how I could find the team. They said everyone was sleeping and to come back in the morning. One trainer, Luigi Pocchetino (who eternally holds a place in my heart), asked for my jersey. He said he would have it signed and he would return it tomorrow. I was a bit hesitant, as the jersey that I brought was not only my favourite, but very expensive. I declined the offer, not anticipating a return to the hotel in the morning. After this, we headed home.
As I was driving in Missisaugua, my iPhone rang. Blocked call again, great. As I was driving and slightly distracted, I answered the call. Best decision of my life. As I said hello, a man said “hello” back. This was a voice that I didn’t recognize and it had an accent. Remembering that I had called David earlier in the day, I asked if it was him. The man then laughed. I asked if it was “Hasan” and he said yes, then said “Oh, you called David too!” and began to laugh hysterically. After a ten minute long conversation, which my sister didn’t think to record until near the end of the call, I realized I was on a first name basis with Juventus. I was in shock and awe, as Hasan and David literally dialed MY phone number and called ME. Unreal.
The next morning, my sister and I headed back up to Toronto before the game. We had met Candreva, De Ceglie, Iago and Zaccheroni. Then the best came, when Hasan and Fabio Grosso came out and I spoke to them, telling them who I was. Even Grosso knew. Apparently I was the talk of the team. The best moment ever though, was when the trainers walked out. Luigi had recognized me. Before I could say hello, he grabbed my jersey from my arm and said “Caterina, hai una penna?” Si signore, you better believe I have a marker. He took my sisters jersey also. He came back outside looking for us after about three, close to four hours. He had both jerseys signed entirely by the whole team, even Trez.
This past week, before Juventus arrived to Toronto, I had thought to myself, how would one top the events of last year. I thought it was impossible, absolutely impossible. Now I just sit here in awe and wonder the exact same thing, all over again.
Now onto the events from yesterday, June 23, 2011.
After sleeping only two hours, my sister and I left our house at 5:00am, in anticipation of taking the train from Burlington to downtown Toronto. Once we had arrived to Toronto, we headed to the hotel in Yorkville where the team was staying. Upon arrival, we were the only ones there. I mean, really, who would be crazy enough to get there at 7:00am. We walked around the hotel for a little, then decided to go undercover and sneak into the hotel. By sneak I mean, put on a jacket and sweater to cover our jerseys.
We had walked right into the lobby no problem and sat down on one of the couches. This is when began to notice some Italian journalists creeping around. There wasn’t much action, aside from this, so we decided to make our next move. Security was posted throughout the lobby, but they never would’ve expected us to already be in there. We decided to head up to the second floor, where the restaurant was open for breakfast.
Once we went up to the restaurant, we realized just how easy it was to actually get onto the elevators that went to the guest floors. Of course, we capitalized on this opportunity. We waited for the elevator to arrive and joked about the possibility of one of the players being in the elevator. Sure enough, the door opens and Cristian Stellini, who is part of the coaching staff, was inside. He very quickly noticed the stripes on the bottom of my jersey, so I greeted him with a simple “Ciao”. He asked if were were Italian, to which I obviously said yes. I then asked him when and where I could meet the team. He advised us to be in the lobby for 9:30-9:45ish. This completely contradicted the information put onto the Juventus website, but I took his word as he is, after all, part of the coaching staff. Then, we again forgot to press a button in the elevator and we started going up. Words cannot explain what happened next.
The elevator doors opened wide, and Re Giorgio himself walked in. I didn’t know what to do, so when he bent down to press the elevator button he was mere inches from my face. When does something like this ever occur, what are the odds!? So I do the only thing I can think of…..and call out “Giorgio?”. He agreed to take photos with us and kindly stepped off of the elevator. Let’s keep in mind that it was 7:00am and both Giorgio and I had matching bags under our eyes….the things we do for Juve :)
Giorgio got off on the 3rd floor, which is where the meeting rooms were that Juve was using. We decided to stay in the elevator, for now.
After being in the elevator for a bit longer, we decided to venture down to the 3rd floor to see for ourselves what was happening. We got off of the elevator and sat on a nearby couch, making sure our jerseys were concealed. After sitting for no more than five minutes or so, Andrea Pirlo himself walks by. I of course called him over and we took photos with him.
Soon after, a journalist who was travelling with the team said that we “couldn’t do this”. Pfttt…. as if Giorgio AND Andrea didn’t want to take pictures with us. We then headed back down to the lobby to sit for a while.
During the roughly two hours or so which we sat in the lobby, numerous players and staff walked around. Andrea came back down, spotted us and just smiled, because he knew what we were up to. Antonio Conte even walked around, he also spotted us, but we couldn’t move since security was tight. If we made a move, it had to be worth it, since hotel security would be all over us afterwards. Numerous members of the Juve staff (both medical and Juve Channel) were in the lobby. Other fans tried to get in, but were promptly escorted out. Then one by one, Krasic walked through, then Storari with Pazienza. Bonucci came down to meet people, which looked like family members. It was incredible just to watch.
Then it happened. He stepped from the elevator. “He”, being God’s gift to football, yes ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about “Il Fenomeno Vero” himself. Which led me to do one thing, call out “ALEEEEEX!!!!!”. He stopped in his tracks, said hello…and agreed to a photo. Words cannot explain the emotion of these next few moments. He was very quiet and did not say much. He took photos with everyone that asked and signed whatever anyone wanted. This was a moment I had waited nearly 25 years of my life for.
The photo was taken right outside of the hotel doors. After this, he approached the fans behind the barricades (which we had to join, since security asked us to leave). Once outside, I then realized that I still had a jersey in my purse, the pink one from 2004 to be exact. Which I pulled out and asked him to sign. While Del Piero was being mauled by the tifosi, a couple of other Juventini were standing off to the side. Marco Storari and Michele Pazienza just stood to the side and watched as the madness ensue.
Being the true Juventina that I am, I of course knew who they were, as many others didn’t. I had both Marco and Michele sign my jersey and took photos with them. They were incredibly nice and props to the manners on Michele for taking his sunglasses off to take a photo with me.
Then one by one, the boys came out to sign things and pose for photos…
First Il Principino….Claudio Marchisio
Then Bonucci…who, as you can tell, was extremely over joyed to be posing in a photo with me. His “family member” or whoever it may have been can be seen laughing at the circus from the background.
Next was Il Mister himself. Apparently Antonio and I take awkward photos, much like De Ceglie and I did last year.
Marco Motta. I jumped on the opportunity for this photo as a result of a running joke on Twitter. None the less, incredibly nice guy, I just wish I could say the same about his game.
Not too long after this, I was graced by the presence of Luca Toni. /end sarcasm
I had referred to him as “merda” on Twitter, as I have never encountered such a rude player. This is going to be a bold statement, but even MASSIMO MORATTI was nicer to me (this was of course prior to me shouting “FORZA JUVE!! to him). Apparently, the night before this photo was taken he had refused to take photos with anyone or sign anything. I of course refuse to take no for an answer, so I grabbed his arm and said in Italian that I wanted a photo.
Next, some real players started to make their way back to the hotel. Krasic had taken a taxi back from the Eaton Centre, but was dropped off right by the door, avoiding everyone. Language barrier much? Although he did wave to everyone.
Next to materialize were Pirlo and Matri. It was actually funny, the way Pirlo was ignored by everyone for Matri. I went straight for Matri, having already met Pirlo in the morning. Matri and Pirlo signed jerseys and took photos, even though they said they were going to be in trouble with “Il Mister” for being late.
The “Il Mister is going to bench me for being late” expression. Grazie Alessandro
As they went in, we saw another taxi pull up, this time with Giorgio in it. He got out of the taxi with numerous bags, including Abercrombie and Victoria’s Secret. Again, he signed things for everyone and posed for photos. Even though I had met him hours earlier when he woke up, I took another photo. He remembered us from the morning too, I mean, who wouldn’t.
Right after Giorgio went inside, another taxi pulled up. This time, right to the door of the hotel. A little boy saw who it was and screamed “ALEX!!” and ran. I loved this child because he was so indifferent to the security that was surrounding him and just ran towards him. Alex of course, being the incredibly classy man he is, would never turn away a child. After the child took his picture and had his back signed, I moved in to have him sign my back.
In the background of this photo, you can see the security guard who felt as though he was the dictator of The Four Seasons. He remembered me from this morning and was far from impressed that I made it to Alex again for the second time in only a few short hours. I happily backed away after he signed my jersey and let everyone else get their moment with him. Seeing that this was an opportunity to be capitalized upon, since all of the security and fans were surrounding Alex, my sister and I bolted for the doors to the lobby.
As we ran into the lobby to meet with our friend Arnaldo, I ran to a corner to hide and take off my jersey so that I would be a tad bit inconspicuous. Two older women saw me doing this and had the time of their lives laughing at me, that’s okay though, I didn’t mind. Moments later, as Alex waited for the elevator, all three of us asked for another picture with him.
I mean, you only live once, so what’s another picture with Alex?
…and another :)
Adrianna and Alex
Arnaldo and Alex
After this moment, which left us speechless. We moved to a table in the lobby and just sat. At this point, the only player we were dying to meet was Buffon. As we sat in the lobby, we were asked to move as the staff was setting up for dinner. The server recommended the bar and restaurant on the second floor. Sir, you were a blessing in disguise with that advice.
We proceeded to take the escalator to the second floor. We took a quick glance at the menu, then realized that none of us had an appetite. Who would? We saw the elevators and took the only chance we had. We hit the button for the top floor, deciding to work our way down from the top to see if anyone was lingering on any of the floors. We made it all the way down the stairs to the third floor, again this was the floor which the team was utilizing. I took a few steps towards the door and over heard many people speaking in Italian. Jackpot. I wanted to go through the door, where as Arnaldo and Adrianna had better strategy, which was to take the stairs up a few floors and then take the elevator back down to the third floor. The next few moments were absolutely unreal.
As we stepped in the elevator, we pressed the button for the third floor and held our breath. As the elevator arrived to floor 3 and the doors open, one by one, members of the team started getting in. First Claudio Marchisio, then Grygera, followed by Pirlo, Matri, Martinez, Quagliarella, Sorensen and last but certainly not least, Gianluigi Buffon. Words cannot even begin to explain. Claudio had recognized us from earlier that morning, so did Matri and Pirlo. They almost started laughing because of the looks on our face. Then we did the only rational thing that someone could. Arnaldo asked for a photo, with all of us. They were all more than happy to be in it and Quagliarella was MORE than happy to direct the photoshoot. The elevator stopped because someone had to get off, but Quagliarella just stood in the door way, trying to keep the doors from closing on him to take a group photo. Keeping in mind, the entire time I had the video camera on my iPhone 4 recording. Marchisio himself often uploads videos and pictures to his page from his iPhone, so by the way I was holding my phone, he knew he exactly what I had been up to, yet he just laughed.
Part of Grygera’s head, Buffon, Sorensen, Marchisio (behind Sorensen), Matri, Pirlo (you can see his hair behind Matri), Adrianna, Arnaldo, Myself and Martinez.
The video is on my Facebook profile, and YouTube soon!
What kills me is that they were all more than happy to take the picture. In fact, they were laughing and thought it was hilarious. I guess they knew that we deserved at least this much after all the work we had gone through to find them. We were about to ask Quagliarella for photos also, but then the elevator doors opened on the 17th floor, for Buffon to get off. It was a hard decision to make, but I called out “Gigi!!” and he waited for us. We said our ciao’s and grazie’s to the team and off they went. Leaving us alone in a hallway talking to Gianluigi Buffon himself. Words cannot explain, they really can’t.
He was more than happy to take photos with us in the hall, then even happier when I withed him “in bocca al lupo”.
With Buffon outside of his hotel room.
After this, we had waited for the elevator to arrive. None other than the idiot security guard who we had encountered in the lobby earlier, was standing in the elevator. He did not look impressed to have seen us there. As he stepped off the elevator on the third floor, Giorgio was standing there waiting for the next elevator. He saw the three of us, for the third time since he had got out of bed, kind of gave us a smirk and just waved.
All of this had occurred before 1:30pm. The day was not even close to being half over.
This day was not only unforgettable, but really, what were the odds of any of this occurring.
I’ll post about the game next, including how Conte spent the majority of the second half yelling for Toni to stay in line with Del Piero, but until then FORZA JUVE!
Foreshadowing this up coming season?