GROWING up in Portadown, Tommy Stewart used to ignore the knocks on the doors each Sunday afternoon to instead sit in front of the television waiting for the familiar cry of ‘Gol Accio!’, and the start of Football Italia.
Juventus were his team. The youngster was caught up in the deeds of Alessandro Del Piero and the Old Lady of Turin in what was the best league in the world.
The striker was his favourite player, and last week in Israel he ensured he would meet him before the 35-year-old could retire, by scoring the winning goal against Bnei Yehuda.
“Hopefully, I’ll get his shirt,” he said. “I don’t want to think about it too much because we have to play the game but it would be nice to get a momento.
“It’s just incredible knowing we’re playing Juventus. All the boys are itching to play. It’s the one you wanted when the draw was being made. It’s a team I grew up supporting as a child.
“I used to watch Football Italia and I think just everybody knows about them. To have the opportunity to play them on your home turf is something that may never happen again. It was my first kit I ever had. It’s a weird feeling. Last week to score the goal, I know it’s not about me but it’s a good wee buzz for myself.”
And Stewart is hopeful that after smashing and grabbing a result against the Israelis, the Hoops can repeat the trick.
“Hopefully we can frustrate them,” he said. “It’s a tall order, you never know. We know how difficult it is. Bnei kept the ball very well and Juventus will do the same. You never know.”
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