As I write this story it’s Valentine’s Day and that always brings images of love and passion! For our guys, it brings back images of Sanremo! Beautiful images which I talked about over the last few weeks! Always a beautiful memory for them and for us the fans! But today, when I was thinking about the guys, I was thinking about them when they were young, and I remembered a story I wrote two years ago about their passions, but not for women! So, let’s go back Through the Fields of My Mind to relive these moments of their childhood.
Back then it was about growing up with your passions, childhood passions! They didn’t all have the same passion but in the end they all came together for the same cause and with a united passion. On this Valentine’s Day I invite you to relive that passion, the day they joined together to play “The Partita del Cuore” (the Match of the Heart).
All for One ~ One for All!
So, let’s take a look at the guys around the ages of ten and eleven. Yes, the music was always there but, there were other things in their lives that had great meaning. You might call them passions! Gianluca and Ignazio had a passion for soccer. But Piero had no passions! None that I ever heard of. For Piero it was always about studying, not school studies, but classical music studies. Perhaps because he had asthma, he never took an interest in sports. The closest he comes to passion is his love for Chemistry and Math. And if a friend could be a passion, then he certainly had a friend who fit the bill!
So, let’s follow the guys on their afternoon adventures.
A Family Passion for Soccer!
Between the age of eleven and thirteen, Gianluca enjoyed playing soccer! What was it Gianluca loved about soccer? You might say for Gianluca the passion was inherited! Let’s listen to what he has to say about his passion for Soccer….
Football has always been a great passion of mine. This too, like music, is a family passion. My father is a big fan of Pescara, as is my grandfather. They were also big fans of Gianluca Vialli, no matter which team he played on because he was a myth for my father. And because Gianluca Vialli also had a name that appealed to both my father and mother, when I was born, they named me Gianluca. Let’s say that name aside, my father gave me a piece of football culture.
I am a big fan of Roma football, before Il Volo, more so. I watched all the games, I did not miss one, and every time Totti beat a penalty, I covered my head with my arms and, if I heard the scream from the television, I screamed from home. But now there are work commitments and that prevents me from following my favorite team. Even now, despite the commitments, I continue to play football as soon as I can.
When I go back to Montepagano I always try to organize a game with old friends with whom I trained in the youth teams of Roseto.
How did I play soccer? I was good, come on, I did not like losing, I wanted to score goals by force, I never passed the ball, and when I had the ball, I scored. Let’s say that I was a bit ‘instinctive’ even on the football field.
Once when I was playing in Pescara there was a score of 4 to 4. I had already scored two goals, but the draw was not enough for me, I wanted the win. Only the field was difficult, it had rained, so there was a lot of mud. What happened? I pull, huge slide and I fill myself with mud, from head to toe. What do I do? I start shouting, ‘I got dirty!’ In all this, it must be said that the game was true, even if we were very young. There was the championship, with the ranking and everything else, it’s not that you could take and do what was going on in your head. The referee shouts, ‘Get up, what are you playing ball.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m leaving, I’m all dirty!’ He shouts, ‘Get up and go to the locker room.’ Not for nothing, they don’t call me the ‘little Cassano’ (famous Italian soccer player) for nothing. Cassano was so good and, he was so restless!
Another time we were at the Borghesiana in Rome, at a national tournament. The Roseto was also in series C2 and even in the very young there were good coaches, competent, good, that when they told you one thing, that was that, because they knew what they were talking about. In that game at the Borghesiana, I do not even remember, against who we were, I did not score goals, the coach takes me away from the game. At the beginning I came back on the bench nice quiet, but after a moment they did everything to restrain me. ‘I want to go in! I want to score!’ I was shouting. I kicked the coach. Now obviously, I would not do it again, even if football is still my passion.
This is one of many stories Gianluca told about playing soccer when he was a child. Let’s think about this for a moment. If Gianluca didn’t become a singer, would he have become a soccer player? He was, real good!
A Passion that gets you in Trouble!
On July 24, 2004, at the age of ten, Ignazio moved to Marsala. Let’s listen to what Ignazio had to say about life in Sicily….
In the beginning I did not accept Sicilian life. It was difficult for me to set myself up at school because the programs were, very, different from the school where I had trained. The consequence? I was seen by everyone as ‘the polentone’ of the situation, it was the Bolognese accent….
(A “polentone” is a somewhat derogatory term that is given to the citizens of northern Italy.)
I did not take it (the move) very well. At a lunch at my paternal grandmother’s house, my mother was so hurt by my words that she started to cry: ‘I recommend you, if I die you must take me to Bologna.
Fortunately, Ignazio met new friends close to his home and this changed his mind.
Let’s start from the assumption, if there is still any need for it, that being lively every now and then can cause some damage. What damage is that? To answer this question, let’s go back to Bologna with Ignazio.….
My main project when I went to school was to get home and spend the afternoon playing football. It had been less so after I started taking singing lessons. I had less free time and then no free time and I realized that singing was more important than all the rest. But in general, soccer was really a big passion for me. From an early age I had a passion for football, also because my sister played football when we lived in Bologna and then she continued, even in Marsala. She played volleyball first, and I also inherited that passion, then she moved her passion to soccer.
At school I was bored, I was learning but I was bored. But I always enjoyed playing soccer. I came home, had my lunch and did my homework faster than light, because even homework bored me. As fast as I could, I went down to the playground to play football with my friends. It happened in Bologna and, it happened in Marsala, ‘nu puzzu’ (the saying refers to something like the well which smells) it was there that I went after school, in time to eat something, and then everyone ran behind the house to the well.
Let’s say that there were some basic rules to be followed in order to stay away from home all afternoon. One of these was that I always had to tell mom where I was, if I walked away, I called her with the intercom and warned her that I was going away, and if I did not go away, I would call her with the intercom and warn her, ‘Mom, I’m down here!’
After five minutes: ‘Mom, I’m down here!’
Another five minutes: ‘Mom I’m down here!’
Because I worried that she was worried, and I wanted to let her know that I was ……. down there.
Near the end of July 2004, we had already packed everything and, we were ready for the move to Marsala. I went to get an ice cream with some friends, near home, really, just a few steps away. Upon returning, I saw some guys in the building next to ours playing football. I could go home and do nothing but, it was the last days I was in town? And the game was in the courtyard next to mine, it was practically like it was mine. So, I stop. I did not think to call mom with the intercom, and I played soccer, all afternoon, without even a ‘Mom, I’m down here!’ And mom started looking for me, all over Molinella. She rode around the city and did not find me. Then she called my father, who was at the supermarket shopping: ‘Come I cannot find Ignazio.’ My father arrives, my mom throws the bike in a corner, runs in the car, then, out of the corner of her eye she sees my shorts.
‘Hey, mom ….’
At one point, my mother from anger also spoke Chinese. If it had not been that we had already packed everything for the move, I certainly would have to iron two beautiful chairs full of clothes for punishment. Instead, as a punishment, no more backyard and no pizza for a month. What then, being without pizza for a month, was worse than two chairs of clothes to iron, because I always ate pizza. And pasta, too. Two other passions of mine, together with soccer and music. I know, I know, you could see from my form. In the canteen, at school, I liked to eat toasted bread! And I always asked for an ‘encore of pasta.’ Mamma told the ladies who worked in the canteen: ‘Do not give him too much soup as he is chubby, just a little bit of pasta and if you do not give it to him, even better.’ One day, one of them replied: ‘But when he comes with that little face and tells me, please another little …. here, lady, how can I say no?’ I was a born actor. But in all, the one that gave me the most satisfaction with pasta was Nina. I ate some huge dishes. Because mom and dad had to work at night, I ate with Nina and, she cooked pasta. ‘Nun è che ci ni calava settanta grammi!’ (It was not that she cooked two and a half ounces!) She cooked almost 9 ounces for two people. We ate, really, full dishes. And then, Nina would call mom at work and ask her for recipes: ‘How do you make ragout like grandmother does? How do you make crepes?’ And she started cooking for the whole family.
The moral of the story, in addition to my passion for soccer and volleyball, Nina gave me a passion for cooking.
In Marsala, Ignazio, Vito and Vincenzo, and sometimes Ivan, would meet every day at the well and decide what to do. They would build huts, play the game of the week, go for a bike ride, in short, everything and more, and this is also where they met to go to school football that was just two kilometers from their homes. And sometimes, in the middle of a challenge or under a hut, under construction, you could hear shouting “Ignazio!” and everything stopped….
We stopped breathing a second and descended silent. Mom wanted me to go home and do my homework. She wanted, but I did not always agree.
A Passion for Chemistry and Math? And, my personal favorite, the Story of Denise!
We know if Piero had a passion, it would be for music but, in this story, we find out he had no great passion for school but, he did have a passion, so to speak, for chemistry and math!
Piero tells us that he had good grades in school because of his secret weapon Denise….
“For Denise I should make a monument.”
Denise was Piero’s classmate for twelve years. The good grades were thanks to her. In the afternoon Piero would pick her up in his electric car, an E50, and they would study together. She repeated the lesson and he learned by what she was saying….
I did not like reading books, what could I do? The songs have always remained in my head right away, I listen to a song and after two, three times at most, I know all the words, but the lessons no, these do not come into my head even with the hammering. You imagine that once, out of despair, to memorize a history lesson, I gave it a reason, that is, I put it to music. But when I could not do this – that is, most of the time – I sat next to Denise and I listened to her repeat the lesson. Or, in classwork, she wrote and did it, zac! She put the paper in the middle of the desk and, I copied. The professors probably knew but they never caught me and so they always gave me that half vote less than she, even if the tasks were the same. But, who cared, I was very happy.
I only liked two school subjects. All of you are thinking physical education. No. Physical education I did not like, I did not want to put on the tracksuit because I was fat and, I felt clumsy with the tracksuit. Today everything is different.
Piero lost fifty-three pounds and he likes to go to the gym. He also helped Ignazio to get involved with exercising when he was on his diet.
At school, I did not like gymnastics instead I loved chemistry. I had good marks which I earned by myself. No Denise. And I excelled in Math, in fact, I am so good, that I am the one of the three that runs with a bag full of all of our accounts.
As for the other school subjects, I was always ordered, I was studying only the necessary, I did what I could. It is not that I did not study because of bad will, it was that I had other projects and the professors knew and understood it. I was not a tramp that ran from morning to night with the motorbike, I was one who was at home studying piano, solfeggio, I had many commitments, I always had something to do.
I was known in the country, I never smoked a cigarette, never used drugs of any kind, never went to the disco, I never did stupid. In short, never.
If you ask Piero’s father, he will surely tell you about the wheelies with the motorbike. It was the only thing that he did not do right. His friends told Mr. Barone that Piero did wheelies and he got angry.
When I arrived at the roundabout in the center of the city, voom, I did a wheelie with the motorbike. Just that. But even in those cases I was very responsible. Do you know what I was doing when I was driving the motorbike? My father gave me sheets of newspaper, I put them on my chest, under my shirt and I went around so the wind did not enter my chest, understood? Full helmet, strictly integral.
If you’re wondering, yes, I was a little weighed in those years but, I was so controlled because, I had a thousand allergies that put my respiratory tract “in danger.” I never went to school trips, I could not go to the disco, I could not do certain things that all my peers did. But now, when I return home I go to the disco, we are never less than twenty, twenty-five people, and Dad is calm because I’m even more responsible than before and because in the group there are also people older than me, even forty years and married.
I like being with people much older than me because, even if I’m only twenty years old, I have to manage my life in a very serious way and at a certain point I had to ‘grow by force.’ It’s strange if I think about it, because that little boy Piero, who was attentive to everything he did, so as not to ruin his voice, and not to get some asthma attack, would never have imagined becoming a singer. He had other plans.
So, I started this story with Gianluca’s passion for Soccer. Let’s end with the soccer game that the guys played in for charity. The one time when the guys shared a Passion ~ the Passion for Helping Others.
I will let Gianluca tell us about this event in his own words….
The Partita del Cuore, (Match of the Heart) a Telethon for Charity on June 2, 2015. (This is the video of the game.)
You cannot imagine the happiness of playing in the Partita del Cuore,(Match of the Heart) a Telethon for Charity on June 2, 2015 at Juventus Stadium. The stadium, in fact, made Ignazio happy more than anyone, because he is a huge Juventino (a big fan of Juventus). I was more excited about having been called up for the first time in the National singers and even more for being able to score. The match was against the team of Champions for research, all great sports champions and big names in the show, from Alex Del Piero to Pavel Nedved, from Jorge Lorenzo to Liam Gallagher of Oasis. What a dream it was! The stadium was full of people cheering crazy. My team was losing, when I came in, we were 3 to 4 and not being able to do anything, apart from shouting directions to my team-mates on the pitch, it made me feel even more strained. It’s like, I know how to play football, you see the others, think about what you would do for them and tell them. No, you scream it, otherwise they will not hear you. Ignazio and I shrieked like crazy to Piero, and then Piero and I shrieked like crazy to Ignazio, but ‘my legs are trembling’, I had to run, enter the pitch, I wanted to score. The coach made me enter in the 83rd minute. We were, as I said, under a goal, but I do not like losing football. So, I took the ball and I scored. What magic! The stadium was screaming, the guys ran to hug me, it was almost like winning the Sanremo Festival again.
Now I will give you my take on the game! Certainly, we have to be proud of Gianluca for scoring a goal but, did you expect that he wouldn’t? And Ignazio made the sportscasters work for their money. They never expected him to be so good. This goes back to what I’ve said many times, Italy you should pay more attention to these guys!
The guys with Alex Del Piero and Michele Hunziger on House Party.
Now, before I go on about Piero, who I think was the hero of the game, I would like to tell you something about the man Piero went up against Alessandro Del Piero.
Alex Del Piero is widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of his generation, and as one of the best Italian players of all times. In 1993 he joined Juventus, where he played for 19 seasons (11 as captain), and holds the club records for most goals (290) and appearances (705).
It’s been said that “Alessandro Del Piero was the symbol of the club for many years.” “He always comes to the training field with a smile for everyone, a comforting word for everyone. This is his greatness: humbleness… he’s a golden person.” A lot like our guys!
Upon retirement, Del Piero refused the board’s offer to retire the No. 10 shirt in his honor, saying: “I’ve really had so much that I would never want it to be retired, this way, every child can dream one day of wearing it.”
Earlier this year (2021), Del Piero joined ESPN. Del Piero commented, “I am super excited about joining the ESPN FC roster. I’ve watched how fast the USA fan base for soccer has grown over the past five years, the emergence of terrific young American players and the ever-growing popularity of the game among fans.”
In addition to his role with ESPN, Del Piero will continue as a pundit with Sky Sports Italia. Del Piero is also a highly successful entrepreneur. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he opened a world class Italian restaurant named No. 10, representing his jersey number as well as owning a professional development soccer team, named LA10 FC and is a co-founder of EDGE Americas Sports.
So back to Piero! So here our Piero decides he is going to take on Del Piero. He played so well that when he went up against Del Piero he surprised everyone with his moves. Especially the guys! You could tell Del Piero was enjoying the game as much as the guys! He was hysterical laughing when Piero took him on! I don’t think he expected it! You need to know that Del Piero has a wonderful sense of humor. He can be very funny.
End result….by his actions in the game, Piero became, in my opinion, the hero of the game, and so he should be included as having a passion for soccer!
Piero you made the guys and the fans very proud by your performance!
And you proved that when it counts, it’s All for One and One for All!
For your listening pleasure and as the guys prepare to leave for South America, let’s listen to their concert from 2013 in Argentina!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
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