Del Piero embraces the pressure

By , 18 Sep 2012

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    Former Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero speaks at his first press conference in Sydney on September 17, 2012 as he begins a two-year stint with Sydney FC in Australia's A-League. The signing of Del Piero, who spent 19 years at Juventus, has been hailed as a significant moment for the A-League, which is entering its eighth season but has struggled over the years with patchy crowds and financial troubles. AFP PHOTO / Greg WOOD

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    Alessandro Del Piero relishes the expectation associated with his move to Sydney FC, whose officials are tipping a sellout home debut for the Italian football superstar.

    Del Piero gave an assured and charming performance in his first media conference in Australia on Monday, answering questions in English and his native tongue.

    The World Cup winner didn’t have any qualms about the level of expectation his reported $2-million-a-season deal brought with it.

    “I know there’s a lot of expectation, and I love that,” Del Piero said.

    “I played 19 years with Juventus – and in Juventus you have to win every game, every year.

    “Fortunately a lot of the time that happened – but all my life I play for winning. I’m here for winning.”

    Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata doubted Del Piero would play in the club’s last pre-season trial against Newcastle on Saturday.

    “I think it will be difficult for him to come in straight away and play, that decision will be done by (coach) Ian (Crook) and the medical staff,” Pignata said.

    He said shirt and membership sales were progressing well and was bullish about the crowd for Del Piero’s home debut against Newcastle at Allianz Stadium on October 13.

    “On Friday the national sales go online and we are really expecting that those sales will go well, and we can actually get a sellout,” Pignata said.

    Del Piero, who expressed no concerns about playing in the Australian heat, said he would initially be completely focused on Sydney FC.

    “Then we hope, about the A-League growing up – day by day … and this is hard work, but one of the objectives of all the people who are in soccer,” Del Piero said.

    He understood it was a young league and was aware the nation’s football background was based on post-war migration from European countries.

    “Everybody I think has soccer blood, and we hope to wake up that,” Del Piero said.

    He said his family were excited about the move, though he had to do a deal with his four-year-old son: “I said ‘we’ll go to the special zoo where there’s kangaroos’ and he said ‘Ok, I’m happy’.”

    Most of his friends accepted he wanted a change but felt he could have chosen somewhere closer to Italy.

    “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.”

    He said it was an easy decision to make after Pignata and player agent Lou Sticca explained their vision of Project Sydney.

    “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.”

    Quizzed about his conditioning, the 37-year-old forward said he had spent two months working with a personal trainer and a young team.

    “I do everything I can to stay in better condition, now I need to go with the team,” said Del Piero, who will have his first training session with his new team mates on Tuesday.

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