Bonucci: ‘Leaving Juventus is a scar that still hurts’


Former Juventus captain Leonardo Bonucci opened up about his departure from the club, calling it a ‘scar that still hurts’. The 37-year-old recently retired from football, having spent the last two years of his career at Union Berlin and Fenerbahce. Speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, the former Azzurri centre-back recounted his time in Turin, his fall out with coach Max Allegri and his dream of lifting the Champions League with the Bianconeri, albeit as coach:

What wouldn’t you do again?

“The argument with Allegri during Juve-Palermo: an instinctive reaction that I could have handled better. However, my decisions were consequences of lived experiences that improved me as a player and a person. Recently, I’ve seen proof that I behaved correctly within the team. The most beautiful part is the private messages from my teammates. I’ve had a successful career despite being seen as unlikeable, but I never wore a mask. I was always myself, and when I made mistakes, I faced the consequences.”

The secret behind the BBC?

“Conte, who implemented the magic line, and having the world’s number one, Buffon, behind us. Beyond friendship, we had trust, understanding, and talent. We complemented each other, making history with Juve, the national team, and football. We have a chat, ‘The Magnificent 4,’ for jokes and memories. Giorgio and I even vacationed together. This relationship will last forever.”

Is leaving Juve an open wound?

“It’s a scar that still hurts. I would have liked a different ending, but maybe it hasn’t come yet. After the initial anger, I reflected, and deciding to drop legal action was the right choice because Juve has always meant everything to me since I played ball with my brother in our room. The love remains intact.”

As a coach, will you be more like Conte, Allegri, or Mancini?

“I love tactics, and Conte changed football, not just Juve, by introducing positional play. Today, it’s more about movement; Mancini helped us win the Euros with his approach. From Allegri, Lippi, and Ancelotti, you gain a lot. I’ll study to find the right mix and improve my character.”

Have you made peace with Allegri?

“I last spoke to him in May 2023 in Udine. Everyone acts as they see fit. Considering what we went through together, even with our clashes, things could have been handled differently, including the decision not to keep me in the squad. If I saw him in a bar, I’d greet him, but I wouldn’t call him for a coffee.”

Your take on Juve’s 2023-24 season?

“When you play for Juve, you can’t settle for just the Champions League. Today’s squad can compete with those who finished ahead, including Inter, who had an incredible run. The value is there, but the focus wasn’t maintained during tough times.”

Why didn’t Ronaldo make the difference in Turin?

“Bringing Cristiano seemed like a guarantee to win the Champions League, but football isn’t an exact science. Cristiano gave us a lot in terms of mentality. Sometimes he insisted on certain plays, but you allow that for a superstar: with him, we always started 1-0 up. Like all greats, he needed his space, just like Gigi did.”

Who is tougher to mark, Messi or CR7?

“Messi, because he is more unpredictable. Cristiano is a perfect machine but more decipherable.”

Is Buffon the CR7 of goalkeepers?

“Absolutely, yes. Unfortunately, we couldn’t give him the Champions League. I’m grateful to have played with him for so many years. It’s hard to imagine another goalkeeper like him in the future; he’s unmatched.”

Do you see a new Bonucci?

“I have two sons; maybe one of them will emerge… Calafiori could become a great defender, but he isn’t Bonucci. In a big team, the pressures will be different. In today’s football, my skills are more valuable, as defenders are less skilled in one-on-one but better at positioning, reading the game, and covering space. Buongiorno has great qualities in both marking and play: he’s intelligent and has important values.”

Do you dream of coaching Juve with Chiellini as an executive?

“My dream is to lift the Champions League as Juve’s coach since I couldn’t as a player. If Giorgio were the CEO, our relationship would be both professional and friendly… But first, we both have a path to follow.”

How do you see Motta at Juve?

“He’s direct and has personality; I like him a lot. He has everything it takes to adapt Juve to modern football and do very well, but he needs time. I appreciated him in the national team; he was very important at Euro 2012: after our draw with Spain in the group stage, he spoke for the first time and said, ‘If we continue with this spirit, we’ll reach the final against Spain.’ He has clear ideas.”

Euro 2024: How far can Italy go, and who will be decisive?

“If Spalletti finds the right balance and overcomes the difficult group stage, Italy can go far. I expect a great Euro from Scamacca, who has reached a high level of self-awareness.”


Serie A obsessive.