These days we think of Juventus as the towering force of Italian football, the team who dominate the game and it certainly feels like they always have done.
Back in 1957 though, they weren’t so all-powerful. They had just seen back-to-back ninth places and a brush with relegation, so young Umberto Agnelli, scion of the Fiat empire and chairman of Juventus, aged just 22, decided he had to do something about it.
To Giampiero Boniperti, already a Juve icon, he added the best player in England, John Charles, and the best player in Argentina, Omar Sivori.
For the former he broke the British transfer record and the latter the world transfer record, £65,000 and £91,000 respectively. When Agnelli went to the Fiat board and asked to spend that much on the firebrand Sivori from River Plate, he was told in no uncertain terms: no. But he did it anyway.
“Effectively he signed Leo Messi and Robert Lewandowski,” said James Richardson on the latest edition of Golazzo, dedicated to the players that would become known as ‘Il Trio Magico’.
So why were these three so revered in Italian football history?
“Juventus had not won a lot for a long time,” said James Horncastle on the podcast. “They won five league titles in a row in the 1930s, but they’d only won two since then. They weren’t the Juventus we’d expect to see now, but this team is the one to which all others are compared: the ’82 side with the World Cup winners plus Platini and Boniek, to the 90s side that won the European Cup under Lippi, to the current side that have won Serie A over the last eight or nine years.
“This ‘magic trio’ are all touchstones, reference points for players today: if there’s a great Juventus strike partnership, they are compared to Sivori and Charles. If there’s a great No.10, they are compared to Sivori in a way that Platini, Zidane and Del Piero were.”
While the three are part of Italian football legend, their story is perhaps not known quite so much outside of the country, which Gab Marcotti spoke about.
“There’s no question these three have been overlooked. Which is odd because Sivori was one of the brightest stars from Argentina, one of the world’s powerhouses. Charles, to this day, is often in those all-time British XIs, either as a centre-forward or centre-half.
“The fact that these guys came together, along with Boniperti who was an absolute icon of the club…the confluence of these three players, so so different, it just created something special. Today we take it for granted, but the [idea of] diversity in taking different outlooks, different ways of playing football, viewing football, making you stronger, greater than the sum of your parts – back then it wasn’t immediately obvious to people, but Sivori, Boniperti and Charles helped change that thinking.”
You can listen to the whole story of ‘Il Trio Magico’ in the latest edition of Golazzo here, and even better you can subscribe here. If you wish to reproduce any of the material in this article or from the podcast you are very welcome to, but please credit The Totally Football Show and include this link.