Six (6) interesting things you didn't know about Paulo Dybala





Paulo Dybala has long been hailed as Lionel Messi’s successor in the Argentine setup. The 23-year-old earned a €32 million transfer to Juventus at the start of the 2015 season after impressing at Palermo and has not looked back since.

The fleet-footed Argentine rose to stardom after his scintillating display against Barcelona in the quarter-final of the UEFA Champions League, which literally knocked out the Blaugrana from the competition. Dybala scored a brace in the first-leg of the tie as Juventus won the game 3-0 and Barcelona needed to overturn this deficit in the second leg but Messi and company fired blanks, ensuring that the Catalan outfit’s Champions League journey came to an end.
Dybala has long been linked with big-money moves to Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, and while the Argentine has pledged his long-term future to the Turin giants, we all know anything can happen in the world of football and it seems to be only a matter of time before he ends up at the shores of Spain.
(Dybala All 19 Goals For Juventus - 2016-17)
1 His nicknames

Paulo Dybala has two very interesting and intriguing nicknames – ‘La Joya’ which means ‘The Jewel’ and ‘El pibe de la pensión’ which translates to ‘The kid that creates the pension’. He got the nickname ‘El pibe de la pension’ after his father’s untimely death, which forced him to move out of his house and shift to Cordoba’s guesthouse.
While the second of his nickname is a bit too complicated, the former was endowed on the Juventus striker by Argentine journalist Marcos Villalobo. The story goes that during Dybala’s early years, Villalobo was in attendance during a game in which the fleet-footed forward was playing and mesmerized by the exploits of the youngster he named him ‘La Joya’, for the striker was like a rough diamond. The nickname has subsequently been adopted by the fans and his teammates.
Dybala’s former teammate and world’s most expensive transfer, Paul Pogba, had a different nickname for the former Palermo star. The Manchester United midfielder used to call Dybala – Square R2 – the buttons on the playstation controller that allows one to turn and shoot.
2 He could have represented Poland or Italy but chose to represent Argentina

La Joya had the option to choose between three countries to represent on the international stage – Argentina, Poland and Italy. Dybala’s grandfather was Polish and had to flee the countryside during World War II before he settled in Argentina.
The Juventus striker had the opportunity to represent Gli Azzurri because his family also had roots in the country through his maternal side. Dybala’s maternal grandmother – Da Messa – was from the Province of Naples and he has also obtained Italian citizenship.
However, the forward chose to represent Argentina – as he feels Argentine and always dreamt of representing La Albiceleste. 
3 His footballing idols

Dybala hails from Argentina, a nation known for producing great footballers and as such the Juventus striker had a lot of superstars to choose his idol from. However, rather surprisingly, his role model is not Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi – it is Italian legend Andrea Pirlo.
In his documentary, titled ‘La Joya’, Dybala revealed that Pirlo was his favourite footballer growing up and was also his role model. However, Pirlo is not the only footballer to have influenced the fleet-footed striker, as ‘La Joya’ claimed that growing up he idolised the legendary Argentine midfielder, Juan Roman Riquelme along with Barcelona and Brazil legend – Ronaldinho. Now we know where those fancy tricks come from, don’t we?
4 The story behind his Juventus jersey number

When Dybala arrived at Juventus from Palermo, he was used to wearing the #9 jersey. However, the jersey was occupied by Alvaro Morata in Turin and he had to choose another number. The Argentine opted for the #21 jersey, which had just been vacated by the legendary Andrea Pirlo, who had moved to the MLS. Long before Pirlo, even the great Zinedine Zidane had donned the #21 jersey at Juventus and thus Dybala considered it to be an iconic number.
Explaining his decision to wear the #21 jersey, Dybala had said in an earlier interview, via Sport English: “At Instituto I always played with No.9. At Palermo, too, and when I arrived here it was taken by Morata and he wanted to keep it. Pirlo had just left, an idol who was wearing [No.21]. The No.21 is like the No.10 at Juve, an important number. It was a test because I wanted to test myself against the weight of a number that represents so many thins here."  
5 The reason behind his celebration – Dybalamask

Dybala celebrates his goals in two ways. The first, a Messiesque celebration with two fingers pointing towards the sky, which is his way of dedicating his goals to his late father Adolfo Dybala – who lost his battle against Pancreatic cancer when Dybala was young. However, it is his second celebration which has caught the eye of the world – the ‘Dybalamask’.
When he dons the Dybalamask, he covers his face – below the nose – with his hands in a manner which is akin to what a mask does. So what exactly does the celebration mean? Well, we will leave it for the Argentine to explain: “Dybalamask is really simple: it's the mask of a gladiator! When we struggle, sometimes we must wear our warrior mask to be stronger, without losing our smile and kindness!”
6 Like Lionel Messi, Dybala had a national team full debut to forget

We all know Lionel Messi was sent off within seconds of making his La Albiceleste debut back in 2005 but almost 11 years later Paulo Dybala faced a similar situation. In a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Uruguay – which also marked the return of Messi from retirement – Dybala, making his first start for his country, was sent off towards the end of the first half.
The Argentine was booked first in the 29th minute and then in the 45th minute. The then 22-year-old Dybala immediately broke into tears and was inconsolable as he trudged off the pitch. It took some calming words from the 5-time Ballon d’Or winner to help Dybala get over the setback.

Speaking about the incident he had said: "Leo Messi told me to be calm, that these things happen, that it was not my fault but the referee's. I felt good, comfortable playing with Messi. We had spoken in training about how I was going to play, depending where Leo was positioned, I would change with him. If he was in the middle.“
Source: All Football

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