Napoli, Juventus & The Sopranos' Serie A sartorial elegance explored

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Six seasons of class TV and some of the greatest links to the beautiful game

Although the Sopranos takes place in New Jersey – thousands of miles away from the bright lights of European football – soccer is a recurring influence on the show. Some of the references to the sport point to the growing football popularity in America at the turn of the millennium, while other instances are a link back to the old country, and the Italian roots of the extended family.

The first reference to the beautiful game comes in the first series. In the ninth episode – named Boca, although it’s got nothing to do with the Argentinian club – Meadow Soprano is shown playing in goal for the local girl’s team, alongside Silvio Dante and Artie Bucco’s daughters. The three fathers end up celebrating at the Bada Bing! with Meadow’s coach, convincing him to keep working with the team. While that coaching career ends in disgrace, it isn’t the last time that football appears in the Sopranos.

The Sopranos Season 2 Episode 6

Meadow’s brother AJ becomes the second of the Soprano children to show their soccer credentials during the season. While AJ is never seen playing football – instead, he has a brief dalliance with the American football team, beginning in season three – he frequently wears New York/New Jersey MetroStars kits. The clunky-named team was the precursor to the modern-day New York Red Bulls, and played its home games at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey, making it the Sopranos local MLS team.

While Meadow and AJ show the growing influence of football in the US – through the rise of the women’s game and the MLS, respectively – the older generation has a different relationship with football. As you’d expect, almost all of the main Sopranos characters trace their family origins back to Italy and, in particular, Naples. The Soprano family themselves originally came from Avellino, a province less than an hour’s drive from Naples.


The first time that Napoli makes an appearance in the Sopranos comes at the end of season one when Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero is arrested. At the time of the FBI raid and his subsequent arrest, Pussy is seen wearing a Napoli tracksuit. Back then, Napoli weren’t the glamour team of the Maradona years or the title winners of today. Instead, they were languishing in the middle of Serie B.


Gil Azzurri is the most popular team over the course of the Sopranos, with appearances really ramping up with the arrival of Furio Giunta. The Italian enforcer and potential love interest arrives in New Jersey directly from Naples and shows his love for his homeland through his football attire. In Eloise, the 12th episode of season four, Furio visits the Soprano family home decked out in Napoli’s finest gear. He combines the club’s track jacket with the Diadora-produced 2001-02 third kit, complete with Peroni sponsorship. Sadly, that’s the end of Furio’s football gear, and Eloise is his last episode in the Sopranos before his sudden return to Italy.


It’s not just Napoli who feature in the Sopranos. Furio pops up wearing an Italy shirt in season two, Juventus kits can be seen in series five, and Christopher Moltisanti sports a Lazio shirt in season four. While Moltisanti’s family roots aren’t mentioned – although it's likely, due to his familial relationship to Carmela Soprano, that his lineage goes back to Naples – actor Michael Imperioli has traced his family back to Lazio, the area that surrounds Rome and gives its name to the football team.

Whether it's through Furio’s Napoli kits, Meadow’s stint in goal, or AJ’s obsession with the MetroStars, football keeps cropping up across the Sopranos’ 86 episodes. The sport is used to tell two different stories. Whereas the consiglieres, capos, and soldiers of the older generation use football to show their connection to the old country – and therefore their authentic Italian roots – the Sopranos kids align themselves more closely with their New Jersey home and the increasing popularity of soccer around them.

Sopranos season 4 episode 13

Admittedly, it's arguable whether football is used as a plot device in The Sopranos, but the role of the sport in the legendary series has spread. UK-based football-inspired brand Born Offside has referenced The Sopranos through its S.S.C. North Jersey shirts, which take their name from Napoli’s full name and the Sopranos home state. Overall, the brand has released four shirts – two of which pay tribute to Furio Giunta and others in honour of Christopher Moltisanti and his fiance Adriana La Cerva. The shirts come in white, black, and Napoli blue and also sport a Napoli-inspired New Jersey crest and sponsorship from Satriale’s, the pork store that features prominently in the Sopranos.

Born Offside SSC Home & Away Shirts

While Tony may or may not have had the makings of a varsity athlete, sport still plays an important role in the Sopranos. Football is arguably the best example of this, telling the story of the old country, the family’s Neapolitan roots, and the next generation’s upbringing in New Jersey.

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