My Team & I: Udinese

By Sonja Misso


Twitter: @SonjaMissio


It’s funny, I’m actually asked this question a lot. Except it comes out more like, “Why Udinese?!” The cop out answer would be, “Because my dad was born in Udine and I really had no choice.” Except, that’s not entirely true. My love for Udinese has actually only recently taken over my life in the last decade or so. You see, like any good child of immigrants, I was thrown into North American sports; I grew up surrounded by baseball, basketball, and skating lessons which I was never very good at. It wasn’t until I was a teen, nearly pushing 20, did I come to realize my love for the Zebrette.

The reason why I am such a late Udinese bloomer is because as a child growing up in Toronto in the 1990s, there was really only two ways you were able to get an Udinese game: One: Crap quality radio in Friulano or  Two: Crap quality RAI or TLN TV in Italian. Both usually at some ungodly hour on a Sunday morning which is not a huge motivator for a kid.

However, sometime in the last decade, between the rise of the Internet and social media offering new ways to connect to a team, and more television stations offering games in better quality, I became hooked. Udinese was the obvious choice, because that’s what my dad would watch; we’d sit quietly together watching them playing on (usually) Sunday mornings. It became a tradition that neither of us really recognised or registered, but wouldn’t give up for the world.

I’ve seemed to pass on this tradition to those around me. In fact, I have made it my mission to turn apathetic Serie A watchers into honourary Friulanos. It’s working, even the Executive VP, Philanthropy and Communications at the Foundation I work at, a baseball connoisseur extraordinaire, asks me every morning how Udinese are doing.

Anyway, back to the question: Why Udinese? Well, the team itself had something to do with it too. They’re exciting to watch. They run, they attack, they get back up when they fall down, and while they’re not always good, they’re always give you something.

However, they can also be heartbreaking, and nauseating; they can crush your spirits and make grown men cry. They can build you up and break you down. They can beat Juve in Turin but then lose to a team flirting with Serie B at Stadio Friuli.

Anyone who tells you they like a team because they are enjoyable to watch is a liar (or a Barcelona fan). An actual fan, one whose had his (or, you know, her) heart destroyed by eleven men in stripes, knows they could never answer “why” their team is their team.

Well, not without screaming and various hand gestures, anyway.


My dad would hit me if I didn’t say Oliver Bierhoff. However, truth be told, when he was a Little Zebra, I was more interested in My Little Pony. Rather, I will give you the obvious answer: Antonio Di Natale, the Napolitano with the Friulano heart.

I could give you all the answers you’d expect as to why Di Natale to be my favourite player: he’s been the number one goal scorer in Serie A, he’s easily the best player currently on Udinese (though I’d argue a case for Samir Handanović), his shorts go to his knees; but all of that means nothing without one simple contributing factor: he stays. I think his love for Udinese is stronger than that of most of fans. He sticks it out and comes back seasons after the season because he loves, and is loved in, Udine. He’s my favoruite player because we’re his favourite team, thanks Di Natale.

That, and have you seen him dance?!

(For the record, my first born’s middle name will be Toto).


Any third kit in the bright yellow or bright orange. It’s like there’s 10 GKs running around the pitch!


It hasn’t happened yet. It was suppose to happen this fall, when my father and I planned on traveling to Udine to watch the Zebrette play in Champions League. When that didn’t happen, our second shot at it was supposed to be when Udinese drew FC Sion in Europa (I’m Swiss on my mother’s side). However, due to Swiss stupidity, that didn’t happen either, so we scraped our plans. I mean, we weren’t going to go all that way to watch them play (ugh) Celtic (amirite?!)

I suppose my favourite moment — one that actually happened — came before all the above mentioned disappointments; it was when I told my dad we had qualified to qualify for Champions League this summer. He had to go away that weekend to help out a friend up North, with no Internet access and limited phone access, and he was forced to miss the game. He has no idea what had happened until he came home and walked in to the front hall of our house. I broke out into a huge smile and he dropped his bags. Neither of us said anything, but both of us knew: all the pain and suffering of the season, the tears, the blood and pride that were shed, had been all worth it.

My favourite moment still to come? When we win the Scudetto this year, so my brother and I can get matching Udinese tattoos.


The owner. Giampaolo Pozzo (or Giam-poo-lo Bozzo as I affectionately call him) is killing us. From an outsiders perspective he looks great: he saved us after the betting scandal in the 80s, he brought the likes of Bierhoff, Muntari, Sánchez, and of course, Toto, to Stadio Friuli, and he made Udinese the team to watch all over the world.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

He also replaces no one that he sells (unless it’s with dumb luck), he doesn’t give his team the tools they need to achieve the European titles, and he routinely makes my dad write angry letters to La Gazzetta dello Sport! Ask any Udinese fan one thing they’d change right now, and they’d say the owner: he is like the opposite of Roman Abramovich; the Po-zzaro World Abramovich, if you will (that pun worked out so much better in my head).

Oh, that, and their home kits. Look, Udinese is the second oldest team in Serie A (1896), and I’m still asked why I am wearing a bad knock off Juve/Newcastle Utd kit. Or, if I work at Footlocker.

No, I take that back. That’s the worst thing about being an Udinese fan in North America.

5 Responses to “My Team & I: Udinese”

  1. I have a serious question!

    What year did Udinese start wearing the black and white stripes?

  2. I’m not 100% sure to be honest. I asked my dad and he said they always have.

    I did find this though, from supposedly 1896:

  3. It just seems weird for Juve to go to England for ‘authentic’ kits in 1903 and bring back a similar strip that was already in use not to far away.

  4. But we don’t know why they chose the Notts County strip, it could be because the respected Notts County… What I mean is that there is nothing to say they had never seen that strip before seeing Notts County, just that they took it from Notts County.

  5. They asked one of their players who was from England to get them the kits. He had a friend from the Nottingham area. Its all here:,,10426~1028229,00.html#continue

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