Italian World Cup winner
Alessandro Del Piero will play next season for Sydney FC, the
striker said on Wednesday, in a major boost for Australia's
The 37-year-old was released at the end of last season after
19 years at Juventus and had been linked with moves to various
clubs, including English Premier League side Southampton and
"There's no better choice for me than Sydney," Del Piero
told reporters in Turin, Italy, adding that he had received
offers from teams on several continents.
"I'll do this with enthusiasm of someone who is doing
something new and who wants to do it well," said Del Piero, who
added that he would "live fully" his time in Australia and not
"as a long vacation" from Italy.
Del Piero, who won six Serie A titles and the Champions
League with Juventus, has signed a contract Australian media
have reported is worth A$2 million - making him
the best paid player in any football code in the country.
Del Piero will play with the same Number 10 he donned at
Juventus, Tony Pignata, Sydney's general manager, said in Turin.
"This signing is a major coup for Sydney FC and marks a
historic day for football in this country," club chairman Scott
Barlow said in a statement. "This is for all Australian football
Soccer's popularity in Australia trails behind the rival
football codes of rugby league and Australian Rules in the
congested domestic market place.
With most of Australia's best players plying their trade
abroad, the top flight A-League has suffered from lack of star
quality since it was launched for the 2005/06 season.
Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, England
striker Robbie Fowler and Socceroos John Aloisi, Harry Kewell
and Brett Emerton were among the best known players to have
graced the league before Del Piero's signing.
The presence of Kewell, now departed, and Emerton, who will
play alongside Del Piero for Sydney FC, helped push attendances
past the average mark of 10,000 last season.
Del Piero's arrival could not have been more timely time for
The Football Federation of Australia (FFA)'s TV deal, which
comes with the sweetener of the hugely popular Socceroo matches,
expires at the end of the season and the arrival of such a high
profile player can only help negotiations.
The new season begins in early October with twice champions
Sydney FC taking on New Zealand's Wellington Phoenix across the
Tasman Sea in their opener on October 6.
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