"We have waited a long time. We never really considered 1985 as a victory because of Heysel." Juventus official Roberto Bettega was in no doubt as to the significance of the club's UEFA Champions League success of 1995/96. Their win against AFC Ajax in Rome was a "real" European Cup triumph, but it did not come easily.
It started well enough for the Italian side as Ajax suffered an attack of nerves more befitting their youthfulness than their status as holders. On 12 minutes they made one mistake too many when Frank de Boer misjudged a header. As he sought to undo his error and Edwin van der Sar scrambled off his line, quick as a flash Fabrizio Ravanelli was between them, poking the ball away before sweeping it into the net from the acutest of angles.
If anything, it calmed an Ajax side that had lost just once in their last 20 games in this competition. They began to push on, looking particularly dangerous from set pieces. It took a brilliant scrambling stop from Angelo Peruzzi to deny Nwankwo Kanu following a scrappy corner, but five minutes before half-time Juve's failure to clear their lines was punished.
With Danny Blind shaping to take a free-kick with his right foot, Frank de Boer surprisingly struck it with his left and the unsighted Peruzzi could only palm it back into the crowded box. The ball eventually fell to Jari Litmanen, who poked into the net. Juve regained the initiative, and ought to have won in regulation time when Gianluca Vialli found the side netting when it looked easier to score.
Extra time came and went with few alarms, and it was a similar case for the Bianconeri in the penalty shoot-out. While Edgar Davids and Sonny Silooy both had unconvincing efforts repelled by Peruzzi, Marcelo Lippi's men scored all four of theirs, substitute Vladimir Jugović, a European Champion Clubs' Cup winner with FK Crvena zvezda in 1991, sealing a 4-2 triumph. The celebrations could at last begin for Juventus.