Del Piero happy with A-League expectations

 

Former Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero says he has no fear of the expectations attached to his arrival in Australian and the hope his star power will revitalize the A-League.

Del Piero calmly answered questions in English and Italian in his first Australian news conference on Monday, saying he welcomes the pressure that will go with being the A-League's biggest name. 

He told reporters "I know there will be a lot of expectation and I love that. I played 19 years with Juventus and in Juventus you have to win every game, every year." 

The 37-year-old Del Piero has joined Sydney FC for a reported $2 million a year as the biggest signing in the history of the 10-team A-League. 

He passed up offers from Southampton, among other clubs, to play in Australia and said he hoped to make a difference to Sydney FC and to the A-League. 

"It was (an easy decision) because the project here is interesting," Del Piero said. "I said 'yes,' but I choose the best place I can choose for this moment and I think this now, and I'm sure I will think this at the end of the season. 

"Sometimes I decide with my feelings, but this decision was not only with my feelings, it was with the head and with the feeling, and I'm sure that's OK." 

Del Piero said he was determined to contribute to Sydney FC. 

"All my life I play for winning. I'm here for winning ... I'm here because I trust in the win," he said. 

"First of all I am here for Sydney FC. Competing for Sydney FC. Then we hope, about the A-League growing up day by day ... and this is hard work." 

Del Piero said he was aware that Australia's football culture has been based on post-war immigration from Europe. 

"In everybody there is soccer blood and we hope to wake up that," he said. 

Del Piero, a member of Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning team and who scored a club-record 286 goals for Juventus, is expected to help bring greater exposure -and spectators - to the struggling A-League, which has suffered from declining crowds and the folding of two teams in the past two seasons. 

His impact was immediate and hundreds of fans turned out at Sydney Airport on Sunday, some waiting for hours, to welcome him on his arrival. 

Del Piero's decision to play in Australia is being compared with David Beckham's impact on the game in the United States when he signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy. 

Sydney chief executive Tony Pignata, who traveled to Turin nearly two weeks ago to get Del Piero's signature on the contract, said he was pleased with the response of fans - more than 2,000 club memberships have been sold since Del Piero's contract was signed. 

Pignata also said 15,000 Sydney FC jerseys with Del Piero's No. 10 and name on the back had been manufactured and were selling fast, with orders from around the world. 

Tickets for Sydney's first home match at the 45,000-seat Sydney Football Stadium on Oct. 13 have not yet gone on sale. A Sydney official said although the match was unlikely to be a sellout - "that's a big call" - it could be the team's biggest first-match crowd in its history. 

Del Piero is due to train with his Sydney teammates for the first time on Tuesday and his first official public appearance in Sydney is expected next Sunday - Sept. 23 - when the players will be handed their jerseys for the upcoming season. 

His first game for Sydney could be against Newcastle next Saturday, a preseason match scheduled to be played in the Central Coast town of Budgewoi north of Sydney. However, if Del Piero plays, it is expected to be moved to a larger stadium at nearby Gosford. 

Sydney plays its first-round match of the new A-League season at Wellington, New Zealand on Oct. 6. 

Average attendance in the A-League dropped from a high of 14,600 in 2007-08 to as low as 8,400 in 2010-11, although it increased to 10,500 last season. 

North Queensland Fury folded in 2010 and Gold Coast United in 2011, but the league will return to 10 teams with the addition of the Western Sydney Wanderers this season. 

Regardless of what he does on the field on his aging legs, the deal has made Del Piero the highest paid athlete in Australia's four football codes, which also includes rugby league, rugby union and Australian Rules. 

The A-League's other past marquee signings, who are outside the team's salary cap, have been former Manchester United star Dwight Yorke, who also played for Sydney in 2005-06, and former Liverpool forward Robbie Fowler, who played with the now-defunct North Queensland team then Perth Glory from 2009-11. 

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker