Alessandro Del Piero

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Alessandro Del Piero
Alex Del Piero Sydney FC 3 (cropped).jpg
Del Piero playing for Sydney FC in 2013
Personal information
Full name Alessandro Del Piero
Date of birth (1974-11-09) 9 November 1974 (age 40)
Place of birth Conegliano, Italy
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)[1]
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current team
Delhi Dynamos
Number 10
Youth career
1982–1988 San Vendemiano
1988–1993 Padova
1993–1994 Juventus
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1991–1993 Padova 14 (1)
1993–2012 Juventus 513 (208)
2012–2014 Sydney FC 48 (24)
2014– Delhi Dynamos 6 (0)
National team
1991 Italy U17 3 (1)
1992–1993 Italy U18 14 (12)
1993–1996 Italy U21 12 (3)
1995–2008 Italy 91 (27)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 17:02, 5 November 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).

Alessandro Del Piero (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro del ˈpjɛːro]) Ufficiale OMRI[2][3] (born 9 November 1974) is an Italian footballer who currently plays for Delhi Dynamos FC in Indian Super League as a deep-lying forward. Del Piero is widely regarded by players, pundits, and managers as one of the greatest Italian players of his generation,[4] winning the Italian Footballer of the Year Award in 1998 and 2008, and he is in second place in the ranking of Italian all-time top scorers (345 goals, and behind only Silvio Piola, 390 goals).[5][6][7][8][9][10] He played in Juventus F.C. for 19 years (11 years as captain), and holds the club records for goals (290) and appearances (705).

Del Piero scored in all competitions in which he participated.[11] He was named in the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers selected by Pelé as a part of FIFA's centenary celebrations.[12] He was also voted in the list of best European players for the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll.[13] In 2000, Del Piero was the world's best-paid football player from salary, bonuses, and advertising revenue. As of December 2012, he is in tenth place among the UEFA Champions League all-time goalscorers.[14] Along with six awards in Italy for gentlemanly conduct,[15][16] he has also won the Golden Foot award, which pertains to personality and playing ability.

Del Piero has also represented the Italian national team at three FIFA World Cup and four UEFA European Football Championships, most notably winning the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and reaching the final of UEFA Euro 2000 with Italy. He is joint 4th (with Roberto Baggio) in the Italian national team top-scorer ranking, with 27 goals (behind Silvio Piola with 30 goals, Giuseppe Meazza with 33 goals, and Luigi Riva with 35 goals) in 91 appearances.

Early life[edit]

Born in Conegliano, Veneto, Del Piero is the son of Gino, an electrician, and Bruna, a housekeeper.[17] He regularly played football in the backyard with two friends, Nelso and Pierpaolo, as a child. All three dreamed of becoming footballers, but only Del Piero would eventually manage to do so.[18] Alessandro's older brother, Stefano, briefly played professional football for Sampdoria before an injury curtailed his career. The family lived in the hamlet of Saccon, a rural home in San Vendemiano. While growing up, Del Piero's family did not have much money for travelling abroad, so he considered being a lorry driver in order to see the world.

While playing for the local youth team of San Vendemiano,[19] Del Piero used to feature as a goalkeeper because he could play a lot more football that way. His mother thought it would be better for him if he played as a goalkeeper since he would not sweat and the possibility of him getting injured was less likely. His brother Stefano commented to their mother that Alessandro looked better playing in an attacking position and Del Piero switched.[20]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Del Piero began his rise in 1981 in the ranks of San Vendemiano. In 1988, Del Piero was first spotted by scouts and he left home at the young age of 13 to play with the youth side of Padova.[21] At the age of 16, he made his debut in Serie B and on 22 November 1992, he scored his first professional goal in the 5–0 thrashing of Ternana.[22] In 1993, thanks to Giampiero Boniperti, Del Piero was bought by Juventus for five billion lire, with an overlap of 150 million lire per season.[23]

Juventus[edit]

Early Domestic and European success[edit]

Del Piero celebrates victory in the 1996 Champions League after defeating Ajax.

In 1993, Del Piero transferred to Juventus F.C. and played for the Turin giants for 19 seasons until being released in the summer of 2012.[24] Del Piero made his Serie A debut against Foggia in September 1993 under manager Giovanni Trapattoni, and he scored his first goal in his next game against Reggiana after appearing as a substitute. On his full debut for Juventus, he netted a hat-trick against Parma.[25] The next season saw Marcello Lippi take over as Juventus manager, and Del Piero would play a more prominent role for the club that season, following Roberto Baggio's injury. Del Piero temporarily took his place in the first team, and Juventus went on to claim their first Scudetto in eight years in his second season with the club; greater success would continue to follow during the next few seasons. That season, Del Piero was also able to capture the Coppa Italia with Juventus, defeating Parma in the final, although they would be defeated by Parma in the UEFA Cup final. During this time, Del Piero earned the nickname "Il Pinturicchio", due to his similar creative style of play to Roberto Baggio. This was nickname arose when former president Gianni Agnelli compared the emerging Del Piero to the renaissance artist Pinturicchio, who was the student of the artist "Rafaello", a nickname he had used to describe Juventus team-mate Roberto Baggio.[17] With the Turin club, he would go on to win the Serie A championship a total of eight times, although his 2005 and 2006 Scudetti would be revoked due to calciopoli.[26]

The following season, Del Piero would inherit Baggio's number 10 shirt, following his departure to Milan, who would go on to beat Juventus and win the Scudetto. That season, Del Piero would capture the Supercoppa Italiana, and the Champions League, scoring 6 goals in the competition. Del Piero would follow these victories up with the 1996 UEFA Supercup and the 1996 Intercontinental Cup the following season, scoring goals in both finals, winning the Bravo Award (as the best u-23 player in European Competitions), and placing 4th in the 1996 Ballon d'Or. Del Piero would also capture his second Serie A title with Juventus that season, and would help lead Juventus to their second consecutive Champions League final, although he was unable to start the match due to injury. He came off the bench to score a goal with a back-heel in the 1997 UEFA Champions League Final, which was, however, unable to prevent Juventus from losing 3–1 to Borussia Dortmund.[27] Del Piero would receive nominations for both the 1997 FIFA World Player of the Year and the 1997 Ballon d'Or, due to his performances throughout the calendar year.

Del Piero began the following campaign strongly by winning the Supercoppa Italiana. The 1997–98 campaign would be his best season, as he scored 21 goals in Serie A and finished top scorer in the Champions League with 10 goals,[28] one of which included a freekick and a hat-trick against AS Monaco in the semi-finals.[29] With these goals, he helped Juventus to reach their third consecutive Champions League final, although Del Piero was not fully fit for the final,[30] and Juventus were once again defeated, falling 1–0 to Real Madrid from a strike by Predrag Mijatović on 20 May.[31] Domestic success, however, was achieved that season, as Juventus celebrated its 25th Serie A title.[32] Del Piero also managed a goal in the Coppa Italia that season, helping Juventus to the semi-finals, and finishing the season with 32 goals in all competitions. Del Piero was awarded the Italian Footballer of the Year Award for his performances, and he was also nominated for the 1998 Ballon d'Or.

Injury and Ancelotti Era[edit]

Juventus began the 1998-99 season with a defeat in the 1998 Supercoppa Italiana at the hands of Lazio. In November 1998, Del Piero picked up a serious knee injury in the 2–2 draw with Udinese.[33] This kept him out of action for the remainder of the season, managing only 2 goals, and the club struggled without him, limping home to a lowly sixth place finish in the league.[34] Juventus did managed to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League that season, losing out to eventual Champions Manchester United. During this time, he was nicknamed by the fans as "Il Fenomeno Vero"[35] meaning "The Real Phenomenon", in comparison with Ronaldo, who was nicknamed "Il Fenomeno" by supporters of rivals Internazionale.

During the next season under new manager Carlo Ancelotti, Del Piero would primarily serve as an assist-man, providing 14 assists in Serie A, the most in the league that season, and 20 in all competitions.[36] He would face criticism, however, for his inability to score in open play following his injury the previous season, as only one of his 9 Serie A goals that season was in open play (a header against Parma), with the rest coming from penalties.[37] Del Piero helped Juventus to capture the UEFA Intertoto Cup that season, qualifying Juventus for the UEFA Cup that season, and scoring 12 goals in all competitions. Juventus narrowly missed out on the Serie A title, losing to Perugia on the final match day, which allowed Lazio to capture the Scudetto by a single point.

The following season would see Juventus suffer another disappointing defeat, finishing in second place for the second consecutive season, and losing out on the Serie A title to Roma. Juventus and Del Piero would begin the season strongly, and Del Piero would score a notable trademark winner on his season debut against Napoli on 30 September,[38] although he would later suffer another injury and fall out of form, failing to score. On 18 February 2001, Del Piero broke his goal-scoring drought with a notable trademark goal in an away win over Bari. Del Piero celebrated the goal, dedicating it to his father, who had recently passed away.[39] Del Piero refound his form and his confidence towards the end of the season, although he was unable to help Juventus capture the Serie A title, despite scoring a goal in a 2-2 draw against rivals Roma.[40]

Lippi second era[edit]

Del Piero was named Juventus captain upon Lippi's return to Juventus, and he formed a formidable offensive partnership with French striker David Trezeguet, who joined in 2000, and Czech playmaker Pavel Nedvěd in 2001. Del Piero scored 16 goals and provided several assists, as Juventus were crowned Serie A champions for a 26th time on 5 May 2002, winning the title on the last match-day over Roma and Inter by a single point.[41] Del Piero managed 21 goals in all competitions, also scoring his 100th goal for Juventus that season. Del Piero also helped Juventus reach the Coppa Italia final that season, although Juventus were defeated by Parma.

This success meant that Juventus automatically qualified for the next year's Champions League. Juventus began the season by winning the Supercoppa Italiana over Parma, with Del Piero scoring two goals, and Juventus were also able to defend their Serie A title. In the UEFA Champions League, Juventus were pooled in Group E alongside Newcastle United, Dynamo Kyiv, and former champions Feyenoord.[42] Del Piero opened up his account in European competition that season when he scored his side's second goal after lovely build up play by Nedvěd and Mauro Camoranesi set him free in their 5–0 defeat of Dynamo Kyiv on 24 September.[43]

On the next matchday, Juventus played hosted to Newcastle on 1 October and Del Piero hit a brace to help the Old Lady maintain top spot in their group.[44] Juventus progressed to the second group stage where the club managed to progress along with Manchester United on goal differential over FC Basel and Deportivo de La Coruña.[45] Juventus then saw off FC Barcelona in the quarter-finals through an extra time goal by Marcelo Zalayeta,[46] and faced Spanish opposition again in the likes of Real Madrid in the semi-finals. The triumvirate attacking partnership proved wonders for Juventus, as the team overturned a 2–1 first leg deficit to record a 4–3 aggregate win as all three attacking stars netted in the second leg.[47] Juventus faced Italian rivals Milan in the Final in Manchester on 28 May 2003. After a goalless 120 minutes, the tie went to a penalty shoot-out, where Del Piero finished his spot-kick but it wasn't enough, as Juventus fell 3–2 in the shoot-out.[48]

The following season saw Juventus start strongly, winning the Supercoppa Italiana over Milan, although Juventus were knocked out in the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, and finished the Serie A season in a disappointing third place, although they managed to reach the final of the Coppa Italia, where they were defeated by Lazio. Lippi left Juventus at the end of the season to take charge of the Italian national team.

Capello era[edit]

After UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal, Juve manager Marcello Lippi was replaced by Fabio Capello. Capello was not convinced of Del Piero's abilities and frequently benched him in favour of new signing Zlatan Ibrahimović, much to the disappointment of many fans. But Del Piero still managed to score 14 goals as Juventus won their 28th league title, thanks to his overhead assist to teammate David Trezeguet, which proved decisive in a match against Milan at the San Siro.[49]

Journalists and coaches agreed that Del Piero was back to his best in the 2005–06 season, having scored 12 goals in Serie A, and 20 goals in all competitions, helping Juventus to defend their Serie A title. His role at Juventus, however, changed in the following season, as coach Fabio Capello preferred to use him as a substitute for an "immediate impact," as Capello put it.[21] Del Piero never had a calm relation with Fabio Capello.

In 2006, Del Piero equalled José Altafini's Serie A record of six goals as a substitute after scoring in the final minute of Juventus' final game of the 2005–06 season. On 10 January 2006, Del Piero became the all time leading goalscorer for Juventus when he scored three times in a Coppa Italia match against Fiorentina and took his total goals for the club to 185. The previous record holder was Giampiero Boniperti, who scored 182 goals for the club. Del Piero also finished the season as the top scorer of the Coppa Italia, with 5 goals. Del Piero scored the last goal for Juventus in the 2005–06 season before Juve were forcibly relegated due to the infamous Calciopoli scandal, also having their two most recent Serie A titles revoked.

Serie B[edit]

After Juventus were demoted to Serie B and their last two Scudetti were revoked, Del Piero pledged that he would stay to captain the team in Serie B. He underlined that players should stick with the team, explaining that "The Agnelli family deserve this, as do the fans and the new directors." While many key players such as Fabio Cannavaro, Emerson, Gianluca Zambrotta, Patrick Vieira, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and Lilian Thuram left Turin, Del Piero chose to stay and help the club gain promotion.

A true gentleman never leaves his lady.[50]

Alessandro Del Piero (about the "Old Lady", Juventus, during Calciopoli)
Del Piero playing for Juventus in September 2006 against Rimini during the 2006–07 Serie B season.

Del Piero's first appearance after the 2006 FIFA World Cup triumph was in a Coppa Italia match against Cesena on 23 August 2006. Since Juventus played in the Serie B for the 2006–07 season, the Coppa Italia campaign became increasingly important for the club in order to achieve a UEFA Cup spot. Having been on vacation beforehand, Del Piero started on the bench. Juventus and Cesena were locked on 1–1 when Del Piero entered in the 74th minute and after nine seconds, he scored the winning goal for Juventus.[51]

Del Piero then came in as a substitute at the 61st minute for Juve's next Coppa Italia match on 27 August against Napoli. Again Juventus were behind, but Del Piero scored twice to give Juve the lead. In the end, the match went to penalties. Del Piero scored but Napoli eventually won 5–4 in the penalty shoot-out.[52] Although Juventus started off with a nine-point penalty from the match-fixing scandal,[53] the Old Lady gained promotion to Serie A as league champions.[54] Del Piero finished the league campaign with 20 goals as he finished as the top scorer of the 2006-07 Serie B season, helping Juventus to win the title and re-gain promotion to Serie A the following season.[55]

Return to Serie A[edit]

Del Piero never really grows old.[56]

Following this, Del Piero was locked in months of fractious negotiations over the signing of a new contract with Juventus' new management. After successfully negotiating a new contract till 30 June 2010, he was greeted with news of the birth of his first child, Tobias Del Piero. This was quite a staggering turnaround in his fortunes, as only two weeks earlier, he was dropped by Claudio Ranieri for the Serie A match with Fiorentina and was then axed from Roberto Donadoni's Italy squad for the games with Georgia and South Africa.

Del Piero during the 2007–08 season against Fiorentina.

In February 2008, he scored the winning goal for Juventus in a Serie A victory at home to Roma, which finished 1–0. He scored two goals away at Lazio and was named to two consecutive Serie A teams of the week. On 6 April 2008, he set a new appearance record for Juventus, overtaking Gaetano Scirea's previous tally of 552 matches in all competitions. In April, he registered seven goals in five Serie A matches, including a hat-trick in a 0–4 away win over Atalanta.[57]

On the final weekend of the 2007–08 season, Del Piero scored a brace against Sampdoria in a 3–3 draw.[58] These two goals were crucial, as it took him to 21 goals for the season, thus winning him the Capocannonieri prize in Serie A for the first time in his illustrious career, beating the likes of David Trezeguet (20 goals) and Marco Borriello (19 goals) and matching his highest tally for a top-flight season since 1997–98.[59] He became only the second Italian ever to win consecutive Capocannoniere titles in two different leagues – former Juventus and 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi being the other. (Coincidentally, Rossi also won the Capocannoniere titles like Del Piero – first in Serie B and then in Serie A). On 26 July, Del Piero was awarded the Scirea Award. Juventus finished the 2007-08 Serie A season in third place, allowing them to participate in the UEFA Champions League the following season.

Before the season, Juventus manager Claudio Ranieri remarked that Del Piero would have as good a season, or an even better one, than the previous term. In August 2008, Del Piero announced that he would try to keep playing professional football with Juventus until he is 40 years old.[60] With Juventus back in the Champions League, they were drawn into the same group as nine-time winners Real Madrid and UEFA Cup winners Zenit Saint Petersburg. Del Piero marked Juve's return with a brilliant match-winning free kick to seal a home win against Zenit.[61] On 21 October, he scored a wonderful first-time strike from distance as Juve defeated Real Madrid 2–1 at home in Turin.[62] In the fifth minute, from open play, Del Piero swerved the ball into the far corner of the goal with a freekick-like shot, giving Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas no chance.[63]

Del Piero before a match in April 2012.

On 5 November 2008, Juventus and Real Madrid squared off at Santiago Bernabéu in the Champions League. The Italians won 0–2, their first away win against Madrid since 1962, and Del Piero was a key performer, scoring both the goals and being praised by both Claudio Ranieri and Madrid coach Bernd Schuster.[64] As he left the pitch after being substituted, "fans from both sides gave him a standing ovation."[65] Juventus' 2009 Champions League campaign ended in disappointment, however, as they were eliminated by Chelsea in the second round. Despite converting a penalty in the second leg in Turin, Del Piero was unable to prevent Juventus from losing 3–2 on aggregate.[66]

In the league, Juventus were mostly challenging Milan for second place and an automatic Champions League place. Most notably, Del Piero inspired Juventus to a 3–0 win over Siena in their penultimate game of the season, scoring a brace and setting up Claudio Marchisio for the youngster's third goal of the season to end their run of seven winless matches in Serie A.[67] Juventus then went on to defeat Lazio 2–0 and pip Milan to second place in Serie A, determined by their head-to-head record.[68]

On 17 July 2009, Del Piero extended his contract with Juventus by one more year until 30 June 2011 in Pinzolo while training for pre-season, thus practically ensuring that he would retire at the club with which he started his professional career.[69] During his renewal, he said, "I am happy at Juventus and we are competitive. I want to keep playing for as long as I can and I'm certain that for at least two more years I will be at the top level." He marked his 445th Serie A appearance, breaking the all-time club record, with a brace against Genoa on 14 February 2010. He is also currently the all-time top scorer for Juventus, having scored more than 250 goals in all competitions. He has also made over 600 appearances in official matches for the club, breaking the record of Gaetano Scirea, who had 552 appearances for Juventus.[70][71]

On 14 March 2010, Del Piero recorded his 300th and 301st career goal during a 3–3 draw with Siena with the first two goals at the second and seventh minute.[72] On 30 October 2010, he recorded his 179th Serie A goal, helping his side to a 2–1 win at Milan, breaking the record of club legend Giampiero Boniperti as Juventus' top scorer in Serie A and further cementing his status as the most prolific goalscorer in Juventus history.[73]

Champion again[edit]

On 5 February 2011, with his substitution against Cagliari, Alessandro Del Piero became the most capped Juventus player, edging out former Juventus legend Giampiero Boniperti.[74] Del Piero remains the third most capped player in the Serie A, behind Javier Zanetti and Francesco Totti, respectively. On 5 May 2011, he signed a new one-year contract to stay at the Juventus Arena. His previous deal was due to expire on 30 June 2011.[75]

A commemorative shirt, celebrating Del Piero's 500th Juventus appearance.

On 24 May 2011, Del Piero and Juventus played against Manchester United at Old Trafford in a friendly match being former England defender Gary Neville's testimonial match. Del Piero was substituted after 65 minutes to a standing ovation from the United supporters. Juventus confirmed on 18 October 2011 that the 2011–12 season would be Del Piero's last with the club.[76] The 2011–12 season under new manager Antonio Conte, his former teammate at Juve, saw Del Piero being used sparingly because of the summer arrival of forward Mirko Vučinić from Roma. He scored his first goal in the new Juventus Stadium on 24 January 2012 in the 3–0 win over Roma in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia.[77] Later in the season, Del Piero stated that he was surprised at Juventus president Andrea Agnelli's announcement regarding the club's decision to not offer the striker a new contract.[78]

In the second leg of Juventus's clash with Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals, Del Piero finished off a brilliant move by Juventus as they secured a 2–2 draw on the night and progressed to the final with a 4–3 aggregate win.[79] On 25 March, Del Piero helped Juventus defeat Internazionale by scoring the second goal in a 2–0 victory, his first goal of the Serie A season.[80] In Juventus' match against Lazio on 11 April, Del Piero replaced Mirko Vučinić in the second half, making his 700th appearance for the Old Lady,[81] and then went on to score a fantastic free kick to earn his side a 2–1 victory and return the Old Lady to the top of the Serie A table.[82]

On 13 May, Del Piero started Juventus's final league game of the season against Atalanta, marking the occasion and the victory of their 28th Serie A title by scoring a goal.[83] Twenty-seven minutes into the match, del Piero picked the ball up on the edge of the penalty box and placed a shot past Giorgio Frezzolini to make the score 2–0 and help Juventus clinch an undefeated Serie A season.[84] He would be substituted off after 59 minutes to an emotional response from both sets of players and supporters. This would be Alessandro Del Piero's final Serie A appearance for Juventus.[85][86]

Del Piero's final match for the Bianconeri was in the Coppa Italia Final on 20 May against Napoli. Del Piero was subbed off in the 67th minute for Mirko Vučinić as his Juventus career came to an end. He received a standing ovation from both the Juventus and Napoli fans.[87][88] Following the game, he confirmed that after his 19-year spell with Juventus, he did not plan to retire. He then left the club and became a free agent.

He refused the board's offer to retire the number 10 shirt in his honour, saying that "I've really had so much that I would never want it to be retired, this way, every child can dream of day of wearing it."[89] On 30 June, Del Piero wrote an open letter to the Juventus fans thanking them for almost two decades of support, stating, "Above all what remains is the fans, you who are Juventus. That jersey that I loved and will always love, that I desired and respected ... From tomorrow I will no longer be a Juventus player, but I will always be one of you. Now a new adventure begins and I am as fired up as I was 19 summers ago."[90]

Sydney FC[edit]

Del Piero playing for Sydney in 2013.
Del Piero taking a corner kick for Sydney in 2013.
Del Piero in 2013.

On 5 September 2012, Alessandro Del Piero signed a two-year deal with Sydney FC. He was paid approximately AU$3.5 million for each of his first two seasons, and therefore became the highest-paid footballer to ever play in Australia.[91] Del Piero had been linked to Liverpool prior to signing for Sydney, but later revealed due to his memories of Heysel he would not have been able to move to the club.[92]

Upon signing for Sydney FC, Del Piero said, "It's a special day for me. I am happy to announce that I just signed for two years for Sydney FC. This is a very big moment for me because I want to continue my career in a new part of the world where I can make a major contribution and help grow the game I love."[93] After the announcement of the transfer to Sydney FC, Juventus wished good luck to their former captain.[94] Francesco Totti and Filippo Inzaghi said they were saddened by his departure.[95][96]

Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow said, "The signing of Alessandro Del Piero is a big moment for this club and, we believe, a historic moment for football in Australia, I wouldn't like to go into the details of the contract,but this does represent the largest professional sporting contract in Australian history and the numbers that have been discussed aren't too far off the mark."[97]

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said that this signing will be crucial for the growth of Australian Football, both economically and technically.[97] Ian Crook, manager of Sydney FC, said he would build the forward set-up around the Italian, who would be given "licence" to pull the strings. "We're not going to reinvent the wheel here. He's played 19 years for one of the biggest four or five clubs in the world, as a No. 10 or a No. 9. We're not going to change that."[98] FIFA President Sepp Blatter sent his best wishes to Del Piero and his new club.[99]

On 6 October, Del Piero made his debut against Wellington Phoenix. Del Piero scored his first goal on 13 October against Newcastle Jets in his first home game for Sydney with a fantastic free-kick.[100] The match against Newcastle featured hero-cam, which allowed the viewer to track Del Piero's movements with one camera throughout the game.[101] On 20 October, Del Piero scored the winning goal against Western Sydney Wanderers FC (1–0), making history with the first goal in the first Sydney Derby.[102] On 28 October, against Perth Glory (2–1), he scored his third goal from a penalty kick.[103] On 16 November, he scored two goals against Brisbane Roar.[104]

On 13 January, he made the assist for the winning goal against Melbourne Heart (2–1). On 19 January, he scored four goals and made one assist in Sydney's 7–1 win against Wellington Phoenix. This was the first time he scored more than three goals in one game and after being substituted, the fans gave him a standing ovation.[105] On 2 February, Del Piero scored his 10th goal in A-League against Newcastle Jets (2–2). On 10 February, became the scorer of the most goals in a season for the Sky Blues, scoring one goal against Brisbane Roar (2–1).[106] On 21 February, Del Piero renewed his contract until 2014.[107] On 2 March, he scored his 12th goal with a stunning 25-yard thunderbolt.[108] On 23 March, Del Piero scored the goal in a 1–1 draw against Western Sydney Wanderers, in the Sydney Derby. On 28 March, he scored a penalty kick against Brisbane Roar (1–3).

Del Piero was named captain for Sydney in their 2013–14 season.[109] On 11 October 2013, Del Piero scored the opening goal of the 2013–14 A-League season, the game-winner in a 2–0 victory over Newcastle Jets.[110] Alessandro went on to score 10 more goals for Sydney FC in the following season, before being released of his contract at Sydney FC. Alessandro had been rumored to play in the Thai Premier League for PTT Rayong & in the Chinese Super League with Marcelo Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande. His final competitive match was against the Melbourne Victory who had coincidentally just defeated the Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League. His farewell was at Etihad Stadium losing in an Elimination final due to Gui Finkler's injury time winner in a 2-1 loss.

On Sunday 10 August 2014, Del Piero captained the Hyundai A-League All Stars against his club of almost 20 years, Juventus, in Sydney, in front of over 55,000 people at ANZ Stadium. Del Piero was substituted off at the 63rd minute of the match for David Williams, to a standing ovation.[111]

Delhi Dynamos FC[edit]

Del Piero in Delhi in 2014.

On 23 August 2014, it was reported that Delhi Dynamos FC who will play in the inaugural 2014 ISL was in talks with Del Piero.[112] His brother, Stefano Del Piero said “During the last (few) weeks, we have received inquiries from several teams, not only from India but also from other countries. There is a lot of interest in Alessandro."[113] On 28 August 2014, he officially signed for the Indian franchise, signing a four month deal.[114] Del Piero made his debut for the Delhi Dynamos on the 14th October in a 0-0 draw against FC Pune City, a team which featured his former Juventus team-mate David Trezeguet, although he was denied an evident penalty during the match; Del Piero was praised for his performance by pundits.[115]

International career[edit]

Del Piero with Francesco Totti.

Del Piero is currently Italy's joint fourth all-time leading scorer, along with Roberto Baggio, with 27 goals in 91 appearances, with 2 goals for Italy coming in 12 World Cup matches and 1 goal in 13 European Championship matches. Del Piero initially played for the Italian U-21 side on 12 occasions, scoring 3 goals, and was a member of the team that won the 1996 European Under-21 Championship, appearing in the quarter-finals. Del Piero made his senior debut under Arrigo Sacchi at the age of 20, on the 25th March 1995, in a 4-1 win over Estonia in a Euro 1996 Qualifying match. Del Piero scored his first goal for Italy on the 15th November 1995, in a 4-0 win over Lithuania in a Euro 1996 Qualifying match. His tournament debut was at UEFA Euro 1996, where he made his only appearance in the first half of a group match win against Russia as winger, wearing the number 14 shirt, before being substituted at half-time by Roberto Donadoni.[116]

The next year, Del Piero was part of the Italy team that took part in the friendly "Tournoi de France" tournament from the 3rd to the 11th June 1997 under Cesare Maldini. Del Piero sored two goals in a 3-3 draw against Brazil, and scored from a penalty against France in the 90th minute, finishing the tournament as top-scorer with 3 goals, although Italy finished in last place.

Del Piero competed with fan favourite Roberto Baggio for a spot in the starting 11 during the World Cup, while struggling to recover from injury suffered during the 1998 Champions League final with Juventus. Del Piero missed out on Italy's 2-2 opening draw against Chile due to injury, and was temporarily replaced by Roberto Baggio. He made his first World Cup appearance in the second match of the group stage, a 3–0 defeat of Cameroon, coming on for Roberto Baggio in the second half, wearing the number 10 shirt.[117] In the final group game against Austria, Del Piero won his first start as Italy won 2–1 to seal a passage into the next round, avoiding reigning champions Brazil, setting up Christian Vieri's opening goal of the match; he was substituted by Baggio in the second half.[118] Italy reached the quarter-finals after defeating Norway 1–0. Italy eventually fell to hosts and eventual champions France on penalty kicks, following a 0-0 draw; Del Piero was criticised for his performance and was substituted in the second half by Roberto Baggio once again.[119]

He was part of Dino Zoff's Italy's squad that made it to the final of the European Championships in 2000. Although he was primarily used as a substitute for either Francesco Totti or Stefano Fiore, Del Piero wore the number 10 shirt. On the 11th June, Del Piero came on as a substitute for Fiore in Italy's opening Group B 2-1 win against Turkey, hitting the cross-bar from a free-kick.[120] In the final group game, Del Piero started the match and scored the winner with a notablle goal against Sweden, taking it past two players before curling the ball into the top corner from outside the area. Del Piero has also set up Di Biagio's opener from a corner, allowing Italy to progress to the quarter-finals with a 100% record, and eliminating their opposition.[121] In the final itself, he missed two gilt-edged chances in Italy's 2–1 loss to France in extra time, and was heavily criticised by the Italian press.[122]

He returned to the international scene in the 2002 World Cup under Giovanni Trapattoni, after a season in Serie A in which Juventus won the Scudetto.[123] Del Piero scored the decisive goal against Hungary, which sealed the Azzurri's qualification for the finals.[124] Del Piero appeared as a substitute in Italy's opening win against Ecuador, wearing the captain's armband for part of the match. He instantly scored with a header against Mexico after coming on as a substitute, a goal which saved Italy from the ignominy of a first round exit in their final group match. The goal sent Italy through to the second round, where they were eliminated by a golden goal in a controversial match against South Korea.[125][126]

Del Piero took part in 6 of Italy's 2004 European Qualifying matches, scoring 5 goals, and was called up for the Italy squad that would participate in UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal. Del Piero started all three matches, wearing the captain's armband in Italy's final win over Bulgaria, although Italy were eliminated in the first round on direct encounters, following a three-way five point tie with Sweden and Denmark.

Del Piero after the semi-final against Germany.

Del Piero began the 2006 World Cup, appearing in two out of three group stage matches, and made his first start of the competition in a 1–0 round of 16 win over Australia on 26 June. On 4 July, Del Piero entered as a substitute near the end of regulation and scored Italy's second goal in a 2–0 semi-final win over host Germany.[127] In the final against France, which ended 1–1 after extra time, Del Piero scored a penalty in the shootout as Italy won the tournament for the fourth time. He admitted afterwards that winning the World Cup was his childhood dream.[128]

As of 2008, Del Piero has captained Italy seven times (including during UEFA Euro 2008). He also regularly wore the No. 10 shirt, but later gave it to Francesco Totti and switched to No. 7, as it was the first number he wore at the start of his career. Even though the No. 10 shirt was vacated after Totti retired from the national team in July 2007, Del Piero denied any interest in taking back the number, saying he was satisfied with No. 7. In May, he was recalled by popular demand to Italy's UEFA Euro 2008 squad after a nine-month absence from international duty, and thus became the second Italian player, after Paolo Maldini, to participate in seven major international tournaments (Euro 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008; World Cup 1998, 2002, 2006).

Del Piero was called up to Italy's squad for the Euro 2008 championship in Austria and Switzerland. He was mostly on the substitutes' bench but started against Romania as the squad's captain. In the group match against the Dutch, he came on for the under-performing Antonio Di Natale and made an immediate impact, including several efforts on goal. He could not prevent the Azzurri, however, from a 3–0 loss. Italy qualified through the group stage in second-place behind the Netherlands, eliminating Romania and France. In the quarter-final against eventual champions Spain, Del Piero made a substitute appearance during extra-time, and with the game ending in a 0–0 draw, it was decided by a penalty shootout in which Spain won 4–2.[129] On 20 August 2008, he won his 90th cap for Italy in friendly against Austria, only the fifth Azzurri player to reach this landmark. Despite announcing that he will carry on playing until he is 40 years old, he has not been called up since Italy's 2010 World Cup qualifier against Georgia on 10 September 2008.

In 2013, Italy national coach Cesare Prandelli stated that he would consider calling Del Piero up for the 2014 World Cup.[130]

Style of play[edit]

He (Del Piero) is different to Zinedine Zidane. He likes to play, he feels it in his soul. Between him and the Frenchman, I choose him.[131]

Del Piero with Juventus in 2008.

Due to his creative style of play, eye for goal, ability at one-twos, and technical skill, Del Piero is known as a "fantasista" in Italy.[132] His hard-working playing style is regarded by critics as creative in attacking, assisting many goals as well as scoring himself, as opposed to just "goal poaching".[17] Because of his characteristics, Del Piero usually plays as a supporting-striker, which is his preferred role,[133] although he is capable of playing anywhere along the front line. He has also occasionally been deployed between the midfield and the strikers as a playmaking attacking midfielder, known in Italy as the trequartista position, due to his vision, passing range, ball control, dribbling ability (in particular in one on one situations) and creativity, although he has stated that this is not his preferred position.[134][135]

In his youth, under Marcello Lippi's reign as Juventus coach, Del Piero played in the "trident-attack" formation along with veterans Gianluca Vialli and Fabrizio Ravanelli, as a striker or as an outside forward, due to his pace, technique, balance, and eye for goal. After losing some pace and agility following his injury in 1998, Del Piero performed a muscle strengthening regime, and he took on a more creative role in a combination with Zinedine Zidane behind the main striker Filippo Inzaghi.[136] As Juventus's playing style changed in Lippi's second stint with Juventus starting in 2001, Del Piero partnered with Zidane's replacement, Pavel Nedvěd, in front of the midfield, or on the left flank as a supporting striker, with David Trezeguet upfront.[137][138] He has also been employed occasionally as a winger for Italy while playing under Arrigo Sacchi, due to his crossing ability with both feet.

Del Piero is a set piece, free kick and penalty kick (62 goals with penalties) specialist: he's the Italian free kicks all-time top scorer (49 goals: 43 goals in clubs, 6 goals in Italy national team).[134][139]

After scoring a goal, Del Piero often celebrates by running to the touchline in front of the Juventus fans and sticking his tongue out; he has also performed a back-flip goal celebration, or pointed up at the sky, dedicating the goal to his late father.[140]

Del Piero Zone[edit]

The football media refer to a "Del Piero Zone" ("Gol alla Del Piero" in Italian language), a style of scoring involving approaching from the left flank and curling a precise lob into the far top corner of the goal, from outside the area.[141][142] The "Del Piero Zone" has been used to describe the goals of other players who scored in this way.

Outside football[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Del Piero and his wife Sonia at the 2013 ARIA Music Awards in Sydney, Australia.

Del Piero is married to Sonia Amoruso and the two have been together since 1999 and married in 2005.[143] They have three children, son Tobias (born 2007),[144][145] daughter Dorotea (born 2009)[146] and son Sasha (born 2010).[147]

When the Olympic Flame for the 2006 Winter Olympics passed through Turin, Del Piero was a torchbearer.[148] He has an interest in sports outside of football, particularly basketball, and in turn has gained fans outside of football; sport icons such as NBA star Steve Nash and cyclist Eddy Merckx have stated that they are fans of Del Piero.[149][150]

Del Piero has a keen interest in music. He has recorded some of his own albums.[151] Along with Marco Materazzi, Del Piero appeared on stage at a Rolling Stones show in Milan shortly after Italy's World Cup win.[152] He is a good friend of musician and singer Noel Gallagher and a fan of his former band Oasis. Del Piero appears in the Oasis video "Lord Don't Slow Me Down".[153] One of Del Piero's inspirations as a youngster was Japanese football manga Captain Tsubasa.[154]

In 2012, he participated in the project "Save the dream" (against corruption in the sport) and spoke about this at Sorbonne, during the "Sport Integrity Symposium".[155][156]

Charity work[edit]

Del Piero has promoted and supported a number of charities. In 1998 he donated 5.2 million lire to "Fondazione Bambini in Emergenza" (for abandoned children and victims of AIDS) by auctioning his Juventus shirt. [157]

In 2001, he was ambassador for "Un gol per la ricerca" (for the cancer research).[158] In 2006, he was AIRC testimonial for the cancer research and in recognition of this, he has received from the President of Italy a prize of "Believe in Research".[159]

In 2008, he participated in a golf tournament organized by the foundation of Gianluca Vialli and Massimo Mauro for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research.[160] In 2009, he played a friendly match at Stadio Olimpico with his team "Ale 10+"; the proceeds (€180,000) were donated to solidarity projects.[161]

In 2010, he auctioned off his Juventus shirt number 10 for the foundation "Un Campo per L'Aquila".[162] On 1 April 2011, he launched the project "ale10friendsforjapan" which he designed to help Japanese earthquake victims creating a website to sell t-shirts and collecting $303,880.[163]

In 2011, he participated in a golf tournament, "Fondazione Sant'Anna Cup – Crescere insieme", for the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital Sant'Anna.[164] On 21 July 2012, he played a friendly match at Kashima Stadium organized by J. League (Del Piero scored one goal and he left the field with a standing ovation); the collection was donated to the Japanese earthquake victims of 2011.[165]

He was testimonial of ADISCO, for the donation of umbilical cord blood,[166][167] and testimonial of 1GOAL for the education of poor children.[167]

TV, games, and publicity[edit]

Del Piero during the presentation of FIFA 2004.

Del Piero has been used in many advertising broadcasts. He is under contract with German sports equipment manufacturer Adidas, Uliveto water, Fiat, Japanese motorbike company Suzuki, Pepsi,[168] Bliss, Cepu, Walt Disney and Upper Deck.[169]

In 2006, he appeared in a television commercial for the Japanese motor scooter Suzuki Burgman together with the sports agent Andreas Goller.[170]

Del Piero is also known for his sense of humour and is a popular guest at Italian comedy shows such as Paperissima and Striscia la notizia. He featured in the film "L'allenatore nel pallone 2" and in the show La sai l'ultima di Totti, a series of short comedy sketches created by his good friend and Roma captain Francesco Totti in which the two of them and national teammates former A.C. Milan defender Alessandro Nesta, Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and striker Antonio Cassano would tell jokes and anecdotes about one another.

Del Piero was featured on the cover of EA Sports FIFA Football 2004 video game, alongside Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho,[171] and FIFA World Cup 2006 video game. He was one of the two stars featured on the cover of the Italian version of PES 2010 video game, the other being FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi.[172]

Career statistics[edit]

Del Piero's 250th goal against Reggina Calcio, Serie A 2008–09.

Club[edit]

As of 5 November 2014.[134]
Season Club League League Cups Continental Other[1] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1991–92 Padova Serie B 4 0 0 0 4 0
1992–93 10 1 0 0 10 1
Total 14 1 0 0 14 1
1993–94 Juventus Serie A 11 5 1 0 2 0 14 5
1994–95 29 8 10 1 11 1 50 11
1995–96 29 6 2 1 11 6 1 0 43 13
1996–97 22 8 4 0 6 4 3 3 35 15
1997–98 32 21 4 1 10 10 1 0 47 32
1998–99 8 2 1 0 4 0 1 1 14 3
1999–2000 34 9 2 1 9 2 45 12
2000–01 25 9 2 0 6 0 33 9
2001–02 32 16 4 1 10 4 46 21
2002–03 24 16 0 0 13 5 1 2 38 23
2003–04 22 8 4 3 4 3 1 0 31 14
2004–05 30 14 1 0 10 3 41 17
2005–06 33 12 4 5 7 3 1 0 45 20
2006–07 Serie B 35 20 2 3 37 23
2007–08 Serie A 37 21 4 3 41 24
2008–09 31 13 3 2 9 6 43 21
2009–10 23 9 1 2 5 0 29 11
2010–11 33 8 2 0 10 3 45 11
2011–12 23 3 5 2 28 5
Total 513 208 56 25 127 50 9 6 705 290
2012–13 Sydney A-League 24 14 24 14
2013–14 24 10 24 10
Total 48 24 48 24
2014 Delhi Dynamos Indian Super League 6 0 6 0
Total 6 0 6 0
Career totals 581 233 56 25 127 50 9 6 773 315
^ Other includes Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Super Cup, and Intercontinental Cup

International career[edit]

National Team Year International
Competitions
Friendlies Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Italy 1995 5 1 2 0 7 1
1996 1 0 3 2 4 2
1997 3 0 3 4 6 4
1998 6 2 2 1 8 3
1999 1 0 1 0 2 0
2000 9 3 4 1 13 4
2001 5 3 1 0 6 3
2002 6 4 5 1 11 5
2003 3 2 1 0 4 2
2004 4 1 2 0 6 1
2005 1 0 3 0 4 0
2006 6 1 3 1 9 2
2007 4 0 1 0 5 0
2008 4 3 2 2 6 0
Total 58 17 33 10 91 27

Records[edit]

  • Juventus All-Time Leading Scorer (290 goals: 186 goals in open play, 62 goals from penalties, 42 goals from free-kicks)[173][174]
  • Juventus All-Time decisive goals holder (135)[175]
  • Juventus All-Time minutes played holder (48,363)[176]
  • 1st place in the ranking of players who played for Sydney, who scored the most goals in one season (14)[106]
  • 1st place in the ranking of players, who played in Serie A, who scored the most free kicks for their clubs (43 goals, with Siniša Mihajlović)[174]
  • The only Italian player who scored more than 10 goals in more seasons (16 seasons)[177]

Honours[edit]

Juventus[edit]

Italy[edit]

Individual[edit]

Orders[edit]

Cavaliere OMRI BAR.svg

5th Class/Knight: Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: 2000[2]

Friedrich Order.png

Collar of Merit Sports: 2006[184]

Ufficiale OMRI BAR.svg

4th Class/Officer: Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana: 2006[3]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b This title was revoked through the courts following the Calciopoli scandal.

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Bibliography[edit]

  • Refini, Maurizio (1998). Il campione. Alessandro Del Piero l'aquila con i piedi per terra. Limina. ISBN 88-86713-39-8. 
  • Giansanti, Gianni (2002). Semplicemente Del Piero. Logos. ISBN 88-7940-175-0. 
  • Civati, Giuseppe (2004). Il segreto di Alex. Limina. ISBN 88-88551-94-8. 
  • Franzelli, Marco (2006). Lo sberleffo di Godot. Il ritorno di Alessandro Del Piero. Limina. ISBN 88-6041-015-0. 
  • Bernardi, Bruno (2006). Pinturicchio. La favola di Alessandro Del Piero. Graphot. ISBN 88-89509-29-5. 
  • Del Piero, Alessandro (2007). 10+ Il Mio Mondo in un Numero. Mondadori. ISBN 88-04-55986-1. 
  • Savino, Roberto (2011). Alex Del Piero. Minuto per minuto. Castelvecchi. ISBN 978-88-7615-577-2. 
  • Del Piero, Alessandro (2012). Giochiamo ancora. Mondadori. ISBN 978-88-04-62115-7. 
  • Bartolomeo, Ruggiero (2012). GeniAle. L'album di Alessandro Del Piero. Libreria Sportiva Eraclea. ISBN 88-88771-36-0. 

External links[edit]