Forza Sydney as a new generation get behind Sky Blues
Way back when the year started with 19 I became addicted, like many others, to a game called ‘Championship Manager 2′. The game was a devastating success and not just for hopeless teenage football fans.
It has been cited in divorce cases in the UK and the excuses peddled by ‘Champ Man’ disciples predate those now employed by the denizens of the world of online gaming.
While the game allowed us to take semi-professional teams to the dizzying heights of European glory or unearth the next great player, for me it was all about the chase. The players I couldn’t get were those I wanted most, the missing pieces of my dynastic puzzle.
Of those coveted digital players, few held my attention in the real world. One who did, however, was ‘Il Pinturicchio’ – better known as Alessandro Del Piero.
Owing to the rise in popularity in Ireland and the UK of Italian football, due in no small part to James Richardson’s Football Italia show, I fell in love with Serie A. Their flamboyant antics, exotic names and shear footballing brilliance were the perfect tonic to the prevalent long-ball tactics in the top tier of English football.
Juventus were the team I loved to watch and each episode of Football Italia was just filler while I waited until they showed the Old Lady. Peruzzi, Ferrara and Tudor were more than defenders, they were footballers who defended playing the ball out from the back rather punting it towards the cheap seats.
Conte, Davids, Deschamps and Zidane could each individually run a game; together they were often unplayable. The anti-hero Pippo Inzaghi was a weapon up front but he and all others were but bit part players on Alessandro Del Piero’s stage.
Juventus is the club from Turin but not of Turin. The young upstarts we call the Old Lady. No one embodies the spirit of Juve more than Alessandro Del Piero.
The diminutive giant, in stark contrast to his fellow countrymen, was not demonstrative but reserved. Where his contemporaries were vociferous and boastful he was quiet, almost shy. He would never strut or beat his chest but then again he didn’t need to. With each blush or demure, the public fell more in love with him.
Every time he effortlessly dismantled an opposition defence or scored with a deft free kick, he reaffirmed his near mythical reputation for skill on the field. Each an enigma, for me, Juve is Del Piero and vice versa.
In the twilight of his Juve career he had a reduced but significant role securing a return to Serie A and a Copa Italia. It was with a twang of nostalgia I received news of Del Piero leaving Turin. I expected he would join fellow big name players in Makhachkala or Shanghai or take up a spiritual leader role within the Italian FA. However, last week rumour began to spread that a possible destination was Sydney.
I’ll admit it, my heart skipped a beat.
On Thursday, it was confirmed that Sydney FC had finalised the deal, after jumping the gun a few days earlier. Much has been made of his salary, which makes him the highest paid player in all four codes. I don’t care. Make him the highest paid player in any code in this hemisphere.
Alessandro Del Piero is a true icon of the world game, one of the greatest players to ever grace the football field and he is going to play for Sydney FC.
I expect Haberfield and Leichardt to be painted azure and sky blue for the next two seasons.
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