He cared. He really cared.
Contrary to the belief of some online, Paulo Dybala absolutely adores Juventus and his love for the Old Lady manifested via an uncontrollable weep as he bade farewell to the Allianz Stadium faithful on Monday night.
It was a farewell that Dybala had been dreading, and one that he hadn’t been expecting.
La Joya was on course to commit his long-term future to Juve last autumn before the club pulled out of the deal amid the player’s persistent injury woes. “I thought we would be together even more years, but fate puts us on different paths,” the player wrote on Instagram ahead of Monday’s goodbye.
Paulo Dybala bids an emotional farewell to the Juventus supporters
Since it was announced at the end of the March that the Argentine would not be renewing with the club and thus leaving at the end of the season, La Joya has continued to put smiles on the faces of Juventino who have found it tough to grin amid a pretty wretched season for the club.
He equalled Roberto Baggio’s 115 Juventus goals on Matchday 36 away at Genoa before teeing up Dusan Vlahovic for the go-ahead goal in the Coppa Italia final. Then, on Monday night, Dybala produced the odd sequence of vintage majesty as the Bianconeri rounded off their home campaign with a performance and result that encapsulated their season.
Dybala had played a key role in handing Juventus a 2-0 lead before the Bianconeri succumbed to a second-half Biancocolesti rally which culminated in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic equalising at the death. However, with Champions League football already secure, Monday’s result was very much secondary amid an emotional night of farewells.
There was a testimonial feel to the very much consequential (for the away side) bout as the Juventus tifosi applauded the exits of all-time great Giorgio Chiellini and contemporary icon Dybala. However, the contrast in emotion between the two players couldn’t have been starker. While Chiellini’s Joker-like grin failed to dissipate throughout his on-pitch farewell, lap of honour, and post-match ceremony, Dybala simply couldn’t contain himself.
The tears started to brew from the moment the number ten was highlighted in red to depict his second-half substitution. The Juventus faithful rose in unison to applaud the club’s joint-ninth leading goalscorer before Dybala put on a brave face to sign autographs and pose for selfies with supporters.
With Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” fittingly playing in the background, it was time for Dybala to say one final goodbye. But the task was impossible. The moment was overwhelming. Tears streamed down his reddened face as the volume of the crowd grew louder.
This wasn’t an organised sequence, however. The post-match ceremony was all about Chiellini. Dybala was a mere after-thought, and it was down to the players to ensure La Joya was gifted the send-off he deserved.
La Joya had devoted almost a decade of his life to Juventus football club, and the holistic bond he developed with an adoring set of supporters was perhaps stronger than he previously gauged.
Leonardo Bonucci, playing a paternal role, tried his utmost to console the 28-year-old as he continued to weep and Dybala just about held off a full-blown emotional collapse to embrace the recognition. It was a heart-breaking yet paradoxically beautiful moment that brought to life the romance of calcio.
The Argentine’s Juventus legacy may not rival Alessandro Del Piero’s, but to view Dybala’s Bianconeri career through the prism of Pinturicchio is unfair.
He signed as a hotshot 21-year-old from Palermo in 2015 and will leave having established himself as a modern-day Bianconeri great. For younger Juventino, Dybala was their Del Piero; the superstar whose talent alone was enough to convince an innocent pre-teen that Juventus would be their team.
And for that, all you can say is grazie, Paulino.