«Vialli was ill and didn't leave me alone»- Corriere.it

«Vialli was ill and didn't leave me alone»- Corriere.it

Of Salvatore Riggio

The former Juventus player acquitted of drug trafficking charges after 17 years: «I have never stopped believing in justice. I dedicate this result to my wife and my son»

A nightmare that lasted 17 years Michele Padovano, former Juventus striker, club with which he won the 1996 Champions League at the Olimpico in Rome against Ajax. A bad, very bad story that has a beginning: May 10, 2006, when the world collapsed on him. «He follows us to the barracks», when the police storm his house. Padovano doesn't understand, he thinks it's on «Seriously», he smiles at those who explain to him that they are arresting him. The accusation is devastating: international drug trafficking. 33 people end up in handcuffs and the former Juventus player remains in prison for 90 days. They seem like an eternity to him. Then another eight months under house arrest pending the sentences. In the first instance sentenced to eight years and eight months. On appeal they become six years and eight months. The turning point in the Cassation: all canceled. End of a nightmare on January 31, 2023. Seventeen years lived with only the support of the family. Friends gone, except a few. «Vialli has always been close to me, even when he fell ill he gave me courage».

“I've always believed in justice, even when he beat me. I knew I was innocent, I refused the expedited procedure and the possible benefits. I fought like I did on the pitch, I couldn't collapse. I cried when I was acquitted. I cried and hugged my son, my wife and my lawyers. I would have been lost without them », she said in the interview given to Gazzetta dello Sport. "The most difficult moments? When they transferred me from Cuneo to the special section of the Bergamo prison. I had spent 10 days in solitary confinement, I memorized the arrest warrant and thought they might understand it was a misunderstanding. I thought about going out but instead. I have to thank my lawyers, who fought like lions. I have never denied my origins, I grew up in the Turin suburbs. There is a little bit of everything. But friends remain friends even when they choose the wrong path. And it seemed right to me to help one of them, to lend him money without knowing how he would use it. Here, one thing I learned: before I thought that one can do with one's own money what he wants. Now I know that's not the case… », he continued.

The relationship with Vialli

As often happens in these circumstances, many friends have disappeared. Padovano remained (almost) alone. «All gone – he says – especially those from football. Except two: Gianluca Presicci, teammate in Cosenza, and Gianluca Vialli. They said I sold him drugs. Absurd accusation, dropped immediately. Luca was moving: he did a lot for me. Even when he got sick, he kept giving me courage. Enough, I feel like crying." With Juventus Padovano had great satisfactions: «In 1996 there was the second leg of the quarter-finals of the Champions League, I scored against Real 2-0 and we went to the semi-finals. Then there was the final won against Ajax on penalties, one bears my signature. Juve remains my team». And on the future: «Do I want to get back into football? Huge. Just a serious project. I just hope that after 17 years someone still remembers me. A call from Juventus? Would be the best. I am here...". Maybe…

March 19, 2023 (change March 19, 2023 | 15:47)

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