- Dec 19, 2003
Roberto Bettega (born 27 December 1950) is an Italian former footballer. Bettega was regarded as a player of noteworthy intelligence and became one of the world's most feared strikers. Bettega played mainly for the Juventus Football Club. His nickname was 'the white feather' (penna bianca). He was a manager of Juventus Football Club until the year 2007.
Born in Turin, Bettega joined the Primavera side of the Juventus F.C. in 1961 as a midfielder. Bettega spent the 1968-69 campaign on the bench for Juventus. At the age of 19 Bettega was loaned to the Varese F.C. in Serie B. Under Nils Liedholm, the coach of Varese, Bettega hit 13 goals to help the side finish top and gain promotion to Serie A.
Nils Liedholm said of Bettega, "He allies tremendous athletic strength with impressive technical skills. He is particularly strong in the air, and can kick the ball with either foot. All he needs is to build up experience, and then he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with."
Back at Juventus, Bettega made his Serie A debut away to Catania on 27 September 1970. He scored the winning goal. Bettega ended the season with 13 goals in 28 matches. The following season, he scored 10 goals in only 14 matches.
He scored a goal against Fiorentina on 16 January 1972, but this was to be his last for a while because he was forced out of the game with a lung infection and the initial stages of tuberculosis. However, he wasn't out for long, returning on 24 September of the same year. He led the team to their second successive league title that season. With the arrival of Giovanni Trapattoni in 1976 as coach, Bettega found himself becoming the main frontman of the bianconeri; the former player to take this position, Pietro Anastasi, moved to Internazionale in the summer of that year.
In 1975, Bettega got his first call-up to the Italian national team for a match against Finland. He went on to play in the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He would surely have led the team into the 1982 tournament, but that dream came to an end when Bettega suffered knee ligament damage in a collision with an opposing goalkeeper during a 1981 European Cup match against Anderlecht. Missing out on the '82 tournament was even more painful for Bettega, since Italy won the tournament that year.
Bettega finally got himself fit again and took to the pitch for the 1982-83 season. He retired from playing in Europe after Juventus lost the 1983 European Cup Final against Hamburg in Athens. However, he later returned to the club on the request of Umberto Agnelli, who asked him to be vice-president.
Bettega played two summers in the NASL with the Toronto Blizzard, helping the team finish league runner-ups both seasons.
In total, Bettega made 326 league appearances for Juventus and scored 129 goals.
He also played 42 times for Italy, scoring 19 goals. He won seven league titles between 1972 and 1982, one UEFA Cup in 1977 and two Coppa Italia tournaments in 1979 and 1983.
He was the top-scorer in Serie A with 16 goals in 1980.
Roberto has a son named Alessandro who also is a footballer. He was the captain of the Juventus primavera (youth) team, and made his debut for the Bianconeri against Standard Liège on 24 March 2007.