Women's Champions League: Juventus boss Joe Montemurro on 'surreal' job in Turin

By Andrew AloiaBBC Sport
Joe Montemurro gives the thumbs up when appointed Juventus Women's boss
Joe Montemurro was appointed as head coach of Juventus women in June

"The black and white was our emblem, our symbol that represented who we were and our identity."

When Joe Montemurro stands pitchside as Juventus boss at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday, and the Champions League anthem is played before they face Chelsea, it will be a "surreal" moment for the Australian.

This is the home of the club that he has identified with since childhood, growing up as the son of Italian immigrants who moved to Australia after the end of World War II and settled in Melbourne.

He spent his formative years playing for Brunswick Juventus, a suburban Melbourne club forged in the very image of the Turin giants and a side that was woven into the fabric of the local community.

It's a side that the 52-year-old says he "was lucky enough to play for" and which he proudly points out won the old National Soccer League title in 1985.external-link

"The whole story of Italian immigration to Australia is about such clubs and those communities that revolved around them," Montemurro told BBC Sport. "Community and family is what Italian culture is all about.

"Yes, Juventus is a football club steeped in history, but it means a lot more than that when you talk about stories of Italian-Australian immigration.

"It is quite emotional talking about that because we were basically black and white - we were Juventus. It follows on that we then became fans of Juventus in Italy. It brings shivers down my spine. It brings back special memories.

"It means a lot to me every time I come to work and see that big emblem. It's quite inexplicable."

Montemurro took over as Juve boss in the summer, having left Arsenal at the end of last season.

In his three-and-a-half years in north London, he guided the Gunners to the 2018-19 Women's Super League title as well as the League Cup in 2018.

Joe Montemurro lifts the Women's Super League trophy in 2019
Montemurro guided Arsenal to the Women's Super League title in 2019

As another club he supported growing up - having stayed up late to watch re-runs of Arsenal on Match of the Day in the middle of Australian nights as a youngster - Montemurro says his time in the English capital "was amazing enough".

Taking charge of Juventus for the first time at Allianz Stadium - home of the men's team and where the women's side have moved their Champions League games - in front of an expected crowd of more than 15,000 supporters is what Montemurro calls "a wake-me-up sort of moment".

"Going out onto that pitch on Wednesday, I will think to myself, 'what the heck am I doing here?' It'll be surreal," he said.

"I do sometimes have to pinch myself and not be a fan, and I think that is the hardest part.

"I want to come in with with my Juventus top and my pom-poms and be a fan at times. But I know my role and my job, and I'm just blessed and privileged to have done it at two clubs that are dear to my heart.

"I know that I'm at a club that means a lot to a lot of people around the world."

Montemurro had left Arsenal looking for a career break, but Juve's approach and their "long-term project" of trying to establish the women's side as a European force is what drew him back to the game within months.

"There are two things that are, I think, non-negotiable here," he said. "Firstly it's to be competitive, if not win Serie A and all tournaments around that; so dominate domestically.

"Secondly, it is to be in the group stage of the Champions League year in and year out. They have to be our bread and butter.

"This club is synonymous with winning, this club is synonymous with being in the top echelon of world and European football. I love that mentality and attitude."

Juventus' Lina Hurtig celebrates scoring for Juventus against Servette
Juventus beat Servette of Switzerland 3-0 in their opening Champions League group game

The Bianconeri go into the Champions League group game against Chelsea, having set a new Women's Serie A record of 30 consecutive wins with their 2-0 victory against Napoli on Saturday.

While Juve have won the Italian title in each of the four years since they came into existence in 2017, Montemurro sees the English champions - and last season's beaten Champions League finalists - "as the benchmark to measure against".

"For us it is a stepping stone. It is just about us navigating where we are at," Montemurro said.

"Chelsea are one of the best organisations in world football, both men's and women's, their expenditure is well beyond what we could dream of, the players they have are of a world-class status and they are playing in a tough league.

"We want to be on this stage and be competing against the best. The more we can have these moments and these experiences, the better we will be.

"The pressure is not on us. We are not expected to win, we are not expected to be anywhere near the class of Chelsea, but we will go out there and play a good brand of football and say, 'Juve is here'."

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