Fagioli: “I fell into a void out of boredom. I fight my demons, but I will win.”


Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli spoke about the height of his betting addiction, saying he was ‘swallowed by a void’. The young talent was handed a 12 month ban for placing bets on football matches, with 5 months of the sentence including community service. Having made his return to the pitch earlier this month, the 23-year-old spoke with La Gazzetta dello Sport about his gambling addiction, and how it impacted his life and his performances on the pitch:

“When I burst into tears during the match against Sassuolo, it wasn’t just because I put my team in a difficult position. In that moment, a dark cloud descended; everything seemed negative, everything seemed dark. I had made a mistake with the ball, but my biggest mistake was inside me. The problem was that I was no longer in control of myself. The game had consumed my life; it had become an obsession, a nightmare. I know I’m a lucky guy, that there are people my age in much more dramatic situations than mine, that I have no right to ask for understanding. But I don’t want to be a hypocrite either. I was swallowed by a void that doesn’t discriminate, that doesn’t consider social class, that neither rewards nor forgives based on talent. I felt suffocated but couldn’t find a way out.”

“It all started as a game. I was betting a lot, but not on my team or myself. I didn’t want to violate principles I believe in. I know it seems grotesque to use this word, but for me, it’s important. I thought that playing football and betting, as long as the two lines didn’t intersect, wasn’t serious. I didn’t harm the sport, I didn’t influence results or infringe on others’ rights.”

I ask him what everyone wonders: why does a talented and fortunate young man fall into such a devastating trap. I ask him, but I think I know the answer. His is:

“When the 4-5 hours of training end, an abyss opens up. If you don’t have other interests, that abyss attracts you. I was bored; it seems absurd, but it’s true. Success isn’t armor that protects against loneliness; it doesn’t allow you, like a shield, to deflect the stabs of empty time. Think of how many actors, writers, musicians have fallen into even more deadly dependencies. Boredom ruined my life. And then every problem, even the smallest one like a quarrel or a bad game, I had to compensate with the adrenaline rushes that betting gave me. Every time I used that cursed phone, every day and many times a day, I felt like I was on the field.”

I ask if he sought help.

“I never talked about it with anyone because I was ashamed. I completely lost control of myself in January 2023. I was playing poorly, training worse. My mind was elsewhere. I was disgusted by what I was living, but I couldn’t do without it. Betting had become the center of my life, not football anymore. I felt upside down. If I made a bad pass, I told myself it was the fault of that obsession.”

I ask Fagioli if revealing this story was, in the end, a positive factor.

“A liberation. That tornado, which slammed me against the wall, forced me to become an adult or at least more responsible. I started psychological therapy with Professor Jarre. I’m looking inside myself to find the reasons, to understand why I had no antidotes to the void and boredom. When the police came to my house, I had been operated on two days earlier; I called my mother. I couldn’t hide anymore because I couldn’t hide anymore. An external factor ended a twisted phase of my life and forced me to choose: fall or get up. And I want to tell all the kids who suffer that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. It hurt me that certain newspapers described Tonali and me as two demons. I only harmed myself. I didn’t fix matches, I didn’t influence results. I made a mistake by betting on illegal sites and lost a lot of money. Because I know, but I knew then too, that with those games, you only lose. And not just money. I was disgusted with myself; I felt like an idiot. But I couldn’t stop.”

And did his teammates help him?

“Yes, first of all, the club: renewing my contract showed me great trust and support. Then Mister Allegri and my teammates. I think of Locatelli, Gatti, Chiesa, Bremer, Vlahovic. For the rest, with the help of the psychologist, I fought. To avoid the temptation to lean over the edge of the void, I filled my days after training: tennis, padel, therapy sessions, meetings with schools. For years I kept this dirty secret to myself; now I can talk about it, as I’m doing with you for the first time.”

But when can you say a dependency like this is defeated?

“I don’t know, maybe never. I know I haven’t stopped and won’t stop fighting it. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t resurface, that it doesn’t sometimes sing its seductive song. But now I control it by simply thinking about how much harm it has done to me. And I know there’s no ‘I’ll do it just once’ because that snake wraps around you and doesn’t let go. I think now that betting is for losers.”

In the minutes he played against Bologna and Monza, I saw the Fagioli I started following in Juventus’ youth teams. That pass to Chiesa, that crossbar hit, that central position in front of the defense interpreted in a modern way. It seemed to me that Nicolò was freer, more capable of showing his talent.

“I had a great desire for revenge. More against myself than others. From the day after the suspension, I started training. It was seven months of agony, I was counting the days. My life is here, on these green fields, winning or losing because of my talent and my team’s, not wasting days and hundreds of thousands of euros, so much I lost, ruining myself and feeling guilty.”

Did you expect Spalletti’s call-up?

“No, but I hoped for it. Now I want to give my all to be on the list for the European Championship. If I don’t make it, I’ll cheer for the Azzurri. I started playing at four years old; at sixteen, I left home because Juventus called me. I left my parents who always supported me without putting pressure on me. Mom is an employee, dad distributes medicines, and they were very worried about me. Now I imagine them happy and I want them to be proud of me in the national jersey.”

Will you be the playmaker for Juventus in the future?

“I’d like that. I started as an attacking midfielder, a role that’s disappearing. Then Pirlo and Allegri made me realize I could play in front of the defense and lead the game. Now I feel ready to do it, even though I still have the desire, now and then, to score. Juventus has five competitions ahead. It will be great to play every three days. That’s what I like. And next year, our goal, as always for Juve, is to win the Scudetto.”


Serie A obsessive.