Juventus’ most popular nickname at the moment is la Vecchia Segnora, or The Old Lady.
I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth is Italy’s most successful team named after a decrepit spinster?
When opposing teams come to Turin, do they think of a hardened bunch of young men at their physical peaks or do they see a babble of batty silver surfers having a mothers’ meeting?
Couldn’t they think of a better name?
I should have known – it’s a pun, it’s a joke! Admittedly not a very good one.
And since every bad joke needs explaining, here goes:
OLD: Juventus is the Latin word for youth (reflected in modern Italian’s equivalent gioventù) and so the ‘Old’ part of the nickname derives from the hysterically funny irony that the club is called ‘youth’ and it’s one of the oldest clubs in Italy.
The idea for this veritable word wizardry might have come from the fact that in the 1930s (when it was bought over by the Agnelli family), they had a tendency to hold on to club heroes well into their years – much like today in fact.
LADY: The reason part of the nickname is not quite as erudite and witty. Bianconeri fans used to refer to their club as a lady before the Agnellis took over out of sheer unrivalled affection.
It is also because Southern Italian immigrants often became attached to this team in particular, earning it the other nickname – “La Fidanzata d’Italia” or ‘Italy’s Fiancée’.
Therefore you can see how some 1930s wisecrack had the idea to stick two such important aspects of the club’s history together, creating one of the most perplexing terminological enigmas of modern football – which isn’t saying much.
HUNCHBACKS: The only challenger as far as confusing names are concerned is Juventus’ other, slightly outdated nickname – “I Gobbi“. This is supposed to stem from the 50s when the players wore very baggy shirts that billowed behind them as they ran.
Again, they could have chosen a more fearsome name, but that’s Juve for you.