Many people not familiar with the history of Juventus might consider is surprising that one of the legends of the Italian giants used to play at Elland Road. However, those people who not know about John Charles, the Welsh footballer who played for both the Turin-based club and Leeds United.
Charles joined Leeds United as a youth player, and was a legendary figure at the club, playing as both a defender and as a forward. In 1957, after eight years at Leeds United, Charles left Elland Road and moved to Italy to play for Juventus.
At Juventus, he went on to win three Serie A titles, two Italian Cups, and scored an amazing 93 goals in 155 games for Juventus. He is still regarded as one of the best, if not the best, foreign import in Italian football. He is widely considered one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He returned to Leeds after five years in Turin, before leaving for Italy again, signing for AS Roma. He later also played for Cardiff City before being a player-manager in non-league football until he was 43 years old.
As most football fans know, Juventus is scheduled to play the Champions League final this Saturday in Cardiff against Spanish foes Real Madrid. In a truly wonderful move, Juventus has invited the sons and the family of John Charles to watch them play the title match.
While many neutral fans in Cardiff will be rooting for Gareth Bale and Real Madrid, some Welsh fans may remember Charles and root for Juventus to lift the trophy that Charles was not able to ever win in his time in Italy. And here’s hoping that a number of Leeds United fans will remember the link that the two clubs share, and root on Juventus.