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Displaying items by tag: Del Piero

Alessandro Del Piero praised Lorenzo Insigne who called up for first time to international team.

Napoli youngster got some surprise phone call from his childhood hero Del Piero and promised to receive a signed Juve shirt by the legend himself.

Insigne's agent Fabio Andreotti told Radio CRC: “Alex is a true gentleman, A man of great humanity, with style and humility. Alex countered Insigne's affection with a great gesture. It was a good deed, done for the benefit of a youngster.”

Published in News
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 21:04

Alessandro Del Piero

Full Name: Alessandro Del Piero<
Date Of Birth: November 9, 1974
Place of Birth: Conegliano, Italy
Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Position: Supporting striker
Current Club: Juventus
National Career: 1995-2008
Caps: 91 (27)
www.alessandrodelpiero.com

Alessandro Del Piero (Italian pronunciation: [alesˈsandro del ˈpjɛːro]) Ufficiale OMRI (born 9 November 1974 in Conegliano, Veneto) is an Italian World Cup-winning footballer who played for Juventus (1993-2012). Del Piero 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. Del Piero was also voted in the list of best European players for the past 50 years in the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. In the year 2000, Del Piero was the world's best-paid football player from salary, bonuses, and advertising revenue.
Along with three awards in Italy for gentlemanly conduct he has also won the Golden Foot award, which pertains to personality and playing ability. Del Piero usually plays as a supporting-striker and occasionally between the midfield and the strikers, known in Italy as the "trequartista" position. Del Piero's playing style is regarded by critics as creative in attacking, assisting many goals as well as scoring himself, as opposed to just "goal poaching." His free-kick and penalty taking is also highly regarded. Del Piero has become famous over the years for scoring from a special "Del Piero Zone"("Gol alla Del Piero"), approaching from the left flank and curling a precise lob into the far top corner of the goal.
Del Piero holds the all-time goalscoring record at Juventus. On 6 April 2008, Alessandro Del Piero became the all-time highest-capped Juventus player, ahead of Juventus legend Gaetano Scirea. As of May 2012, he is in ninth place in the UEFA Champions League all-time goalscorer records and joint fourth with Roberto Baggio within the Italian national team records.

Childhood and early career

Del Piero is the son of Gino, an electrician, and Bruna, a housekeeper. 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. Alessandro's older brother, Stefano, briefly played professional football for Sampdoria before injury struck him. 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 since the age of seven, Del Piero used to play 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 told their mother, "Don't you see that Alex is good in the attack?" and Del Piero switched position.
It was while playing with his local side of San Vendemiano in 1988 that Del Piero was first spotted by scouts — he left home at the young age of 13 to play in the youth side of Padova.

Juventus

In 1993, he transferred to Juventus, and has been there ever since. Del Piero made his Serie A debut against Foggia in September 1993, scored his first goal in his next game against Reggiana after appearing as a substitute, and then grabbed a hat-trick against Parma on his first start. Juventus claimed their first Scudetto in eight years in his first season and success continued to follow. With the Turin club, he won the Serie A championship eight times (1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2012), the Champions League (1996), and the Intercontinental Cup (1996). His best season was in 1997–98, when he scored 21 goals in Serie A and finished top scorer in the Champions League with 10 goals, which included a peach of a freekick against AS Monaco in the semi-finals. His goal in the 1997 UEFA Champions League Final, however, was unable to prevent Juventus from going down 3–1 to Borussia Dortmund.
Del Piero struggled for form at the beginning of the 1998–99 season, whilst doping allegations were aimed at Juventus (they were later found innocent). In October, he picked up a serious knee injury in the 2–2 draw with Udinese. This kept him out of action for the remainder of the season. Juventus struggled without him and limped home to a lowly sixth place in the league.
During this time, Del Piero earned the nickname "Il Pinturicchio," in reference to a comment by former president Gianni Agnelli when he compared the emerging Del Piero to the renaissance artist Pinturicchio.[9] He's also been nicknamed by the fans "Il Fenomeno Vero" meaning "The Real Phenomenon," in a sort of comparison with Ronaldo, who was nicknamed "Il Fenomeno" by rival supporters of Internazionale.
One of Del Piero's greatest strengths as a footballer is his versatility, which allows him to play in a variety of attacking positions. While he started his club career playing as an out-and-out striker, he settled into a deeper role as a support-striker. He has also been positioned as a playmaker in the central slot behind the forwards. Under Marcello Lippi's reign as Juventus coach, Del Piero played in the "trident-attack" formation along with veterans Gianluca Vialli and Fabrizio Ravanelli. After that, he took a role in a combination with Zinedine Zidane behind Filippo Inzaghi. As Juve's playing style changed in Lippi's second stint with Juventus starting in 2001, Del Piero partnered with Zidane's replacement, Pavel Nedvěd, in midfield and David Trezeguet upfront.
After UEFA Euro 2004, Marcello Lippi was replaced by Fabio Capello as Juventus coach. 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 spectacular overhead assist to teammate David Trezeguet which proved decisive in a crucial match against Milan at the San Siro.

Experts agree that Del Piero was back to his best in the 2005–06 season[23] having scored 20 goals in all competitions. 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.[19] Del Piero never had a calm relation with Fabio Capello though, evident from the quote on his official site, saying, "If Capello had stayed as coach of Juventus, I would have left Juventus."
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.[12] Del Piero scored the last goal for Juventus in the 2005–06 season before Juve were forcibly relegated due to the infamous Calciopoli scandal.

2006–07 season in the Serie B
Juventus were demoted to Serie B and their last two Scudetti were revoked (see 2006 Italian football scandal). Del Piero announced 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 Viera, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Lilian Thuram left Turin, Del Piero chose to stay and help Juve regain promotion.
Del Piero's first appearance after the 2006 World Cup triumph was in the Coppa Italia match against Cesena on 23 August 2006. Since Juventus played in 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 scored the winning goal for Juventus.
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.

2007–08 season and beyond
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.
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 4–0 away win over Atalanta.
On the final weekend of the 2007–08 season, Del Piero scored a brace against Sampdoria in a 3–3 draw. 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. 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.
During the 2008–09 summer pre-season, Juventus played Hamburger SV and Arsenal in the Emirates Cup, and played a friendly against Manchester United at Old Trafford. 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. With Juventus back in the Champions League, they were drawn into the same group as former winners Real Madrid and UEFA Cup winners Zenit Saint Petersburg. Del Piero marked their return with a brilliant match-winning free kick to seal a home win against Zenit. On 21 October, he scored a wonderful first-time strike from distance as Juve defeated Real Madrid in Turin.[30] On 21 October, he scored in Juve's Champions League match at home against the Spanish club. In the fifth minute, from open play, Del Piero swerved the ball in the far corner of the goal with a freekick like shot, giving goalkeeper Iker Casillas no chance, with Amauri scoring the second in the first few minutes of the second half.
On 5 November 2008, Juventus and Real Madrid squared off at Santiago Bernabéu in the Champions League. The Italians won 2–0, 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. As he left the pitch after being substituted, "fans from both sides gave him a standing ovation." 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.
In the league, Juventus were mostly challenging Milan for second place and an automatic Champions League place. Most notably, Del Piero inspired the Bianconeri 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. Juve won 2–0 over Lazio to finish second ahead of Milan (based on their head-to-head record).
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. 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.
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. On 30 October 2010, he recorded his 179th Serie A goal, 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.

2010 – 2012
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. 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.
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. 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 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.[36] Del Piero has stated that he was surprised at Juventus president Andrea Agnelli's announcement regarding his contract and that he was surprised to not be offered a new contract.
In the second leg of Juventus's clash with Milan in the Coppa Italia semi-finals, Del Piero finished off a brilliant move by Juve as they secured a 2–2 draw on the night and progressed to the final with a 4–3 aggregate win.[38] 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. In Juventus's match against Lazio on 11 April, Del Piero replaced strike partner Mirko Vučinić in the second half 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.
On 13 May, Del Piero started Juventus's final league game of the season against Atalanta, marking the occasion by scoring a goal. 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. 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. Following his departure, the Juventus board were understood to be keen to retire Del Piero's number 10 jersey as a tribute to his efforts and accomplishments during a decorated 18-year career. However, Del Piero, did not want to see his number withdrawn from service. 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 in a 2-0 defeat.
Del Piero confirmed that after his 19 year spell with Juventus that he did not plan to retire with many offers from abroad, including the Premier League and MLS touted as possible destinations.

International career

Del Piero is currently Italy's fourth all-time leading scorer. His tournament debut was UEFA Euro 1996, but made his only appearance in the first half of a match against Russia before being substituted at half-time. Del Piero competed with fan favourite Roberto Baggio for a spot on the 1998 FIFA World Cup final roster while struggling to recover from injury suffered during the 1998 Champions League final with Juventus. He also missed two gilt-edged chances in Italy's 2–1 loss to France in the Euro 2000 final.
He returned to the international scene in the 2002 World Cup after a season in Serie A in which Juventus won the Scudetto.[49] Del Piero scored the decisive goal against Hungary, which sealed the Azzurri's qualification for the finals. 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. The goal sent Italy through to the second round, where they were eliminated by a golden goal in a controversial match against South Korea.
Del Piero began the 2006 World Cup on the bench, 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. 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.
As of 2008, Del Piero has captained Italy seven times (including during UEFA Euro 2008). He also regularly wore the #10 shirt, but later gave it to Francesco Totti and switched to #7, as it was the first number he wore at the start of his career. Even though the #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 #7. In May, he was recalled by popular demand to Italy's UEFA Euro 2008 squad after nine-month absence from international duty, and thus became the second Italian player 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 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.[55] 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 qualifier against Georgia on 10 September 2008.

Personal life

Del Piero is married to Sonia Amoruso, and the two have been together since 1999 and married in 2005. The couple announced in July 2007 that they were expecting their first baby. On 22 October 2007, Amoruso gave birth to baby boy Tobias at 0:20 at Sant'Anna hospital in Turin. On 14 February 2009, Amoruso's second pregnancy was announced. On 5 May 2009 their daughter Dorotea was born in Turin. On 12 September 2010, Del Piero announced on his personal website the upcoming birth of his third child. The Del Pieros welcomed son Sasha on 27 December of that year.
Del Piero has used his fame and money to promote and support cancer research; in recognition of this, he has received from the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro a prize of "Believe in Research" in November 2006.
When the Olympic Flame for the 2006 Winter Olympics passed through Turin, Del Piero was a torchbearer. He has an interest in sports outside of football, particularly basketball, and in turn has gained fans outside of just football, sport icons such as National Basketball Association (NBA) star Steve Nash and cycling legend Eddy Merckx have stated that they are fans of Del Piero.
As well as an interest in other sports, Del Piero also has a keen interest in music. He has even recorded some albums of his own.[67] Along with Marco Materazzi, Del Piero appeared on stage at a Rolling Stones show in Milan shortly after Italy's World Cup win. 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".
On 9 February 2009, it was reported that Del Piero was suing the social networking site Facebook over a fake profile bearing his name that links to Nazi propaganda sites. He was said to be aggrieved that the bogus account, which carries his picture, implies neo-Nazi sympathies as he did not have a Facebook profile at that time.
Besides scoring goals, 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. His goal celebration usually consists of him running to the touchline in front of Juve fans sticking his tongue out and has done the back-flip goal celebration on several occasions. He featured in the show La sai l'ultima di Totti, a comedy sketch created by his good friend and Roma captain Francesco Totti where the two of them and national teammates Milan defender Alessandro Nesta and Juve teammate Gianluigi Buffon would tell jokes about one another.
On TV, Del Piero is famous not just for his matches, but also for broadcasting and advertising skills. He is under contract with German sports equipment manufacturer Adidas, with Uliveto water, Italian car manufacturer Fiat, and Japanese motorbike company Suzuki. In 2006, he appeared in a television commercial for the Japanese motor scooter Suzuki Burgman together with the sports agent Andreas Goller.
Del Piero was also featured on the cover of EA Sports' FIFA Football 2004 video game alongside Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho. 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 Argentina star Lionel Messi.
In February 2012, it was reported that a 12-year old girl has been woken from a 15-day coma by the soothing voice of her idol, Del Piero

Honours

Club
Juventus
Serie A : 1994-95, 1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2011-12(2004-05, 2005-06 : last two revoked due to Calciopoli scandal) (8 Titles)
Coppa Italia: 1994-95
Italian Super Cup: 1995, 1997, 2002, 2003 (4 Titles)
UEFA Champions League: 1995-96
European Supercup: 1996
Intercontinental Cup: 1996
Intertoto Cup: 1999
Torneo di Viareggio: 1994
Serie B: 2006–07
Italy National Team
European Championship
Runner-up: 2000
FIFA Wolrd Cup: 2006

Individual
ESM Team of the Year (3): 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98
Most Valuable Player Intercontinental Cup: 1996
European Footballer of the Year Under-21: 1996
UEFA Champions League Topscorer: 1997–98
Best Loved Football Player: 2001, 2008
FIFA 100
Golden Foot to career: 2007
Serie B - Topscorer: 2007 (20 goals)
Scirea Award to career: 2008
Oscar AIC – Italian Footballer ot the Year(2): 1998, 2008
Serie A – Top Scorer: 2008 (21 goals)
USSI Silver Ball: 2008
Globe Soccer Award: 2011
Oscar AIC – Award to Career: 2011

Records
Juventus All-Time Leading Scorer (289 goals)
Juventus All-Time Leading Scorer Champions League (44)
Juventus All-Time Leading Scorer UEFA Competitions (52)
Juventus All-Time Leading Scorer International competitions (53)
Juventus All-Time Leading Scorer in the Italian championships (208)
Juventus All-Time Leading Scorer Italian Super Cup (3)
Juventus All-Time appearances holder Serie A: (478)
Juventus All-Time appearances holder in the UEFA club competitions: (129)
Juventus All-Time appearances holder in international competitions: (130)
Juventus All-Time appearances leader (705)
Latest goal from kickoff in a FIFA World Cup match (121st minute)
Most Participations in UEFA European Championships (4) (Tied with 5 others)

Published in Players
Monday, 21 May 2012 08:16

There will never be another Del Piero

The legendary captain ended his career with the Bianconeri without the Coppa Italia in tow, but the Scudetto was reward enough after 19 great years with the club.

He wasn’t always the magnificently coiffured icon that we would become accustomed to. On the outside, Alessandro Del Piero was a short, skinny kid with a big mop of hair when Giampiero Boniperto paid 5 billion lire to prise him away from Padova in 1993. But what he did always have was class. More than that, he had Juventus class.

He may not have got his hands on the Coppa Italia one last time, but he still leaves the club tonight with the Scudetto under one arm. Del Piero was a winner until the last, just as he had been almost from the very beginning. He played a part in the Primavera side’s league title and Viareggio Cup double soon after arriving, and before long was elevated to the first team, fittingly scoring on his home debut against Reggiana with a neat left-foot half-volley.

After five goals in his first season, including a hat-trick against Parma, he became a regular in 1994-95, playing 50 games in all competitions as the Bianconeri collected a 23rd Scudetto. Such was his impact that he was called up for Italy’s Euro '96 qualifier against Estonia in Salerno. Aged just 20, he was already making a mark, scoring some stunning goals along the way.

When Calcio made the move to squad numbers on players’ shirts in 1995, Alex was handed Juve’s mythical No.10 jersey. The likes of Liam Brady, Michel Platini and Roberto Baggio - who was sold that summer so sure were Juve of Del Piero's ability - had donned the same shirt before him, but now it was his for keeps. His legacy would dictate that he would surpass every one of those names in the annals. He also joined a small number of players to become a European champion in the black and white in 1996 when the Champions League was won on penalties against Ajax.

That triumph in Rome was soon followed by an Intercontinental Cup - where Alex hit a memorable winner against River Plate - and back-to-back Scudetti, but there were successive failures in Europe despite Del Piero’s best efforts. In 1997 he scored a brilliant flick as substitute in a 3-1 final defeat against Borussia Dortmund and one year later the Bianconeri fell 1-0 to Real Madrid in Amsterdam after ‘Il Pinturrichio’s 10 goals in the competition - including a semi-final first leg hat-trick versus Monaco - had led them to the verge of glory once more.

"He is different to Zinedine Zidane. He likes to play, he feels it in his soul. Between him and the Frenchman, I choose him"

- Diego Maradona

Playing among some great names, he still stood out. “He is different to Zinedine Zidane,” Diego Maradona once said. “He likes to play, he feels it in his soul. Between him and the Frenchman, I choose him.”

Fast becoming one of the most feared players in world football, it appeared that nothing could stop him, but injury very nearly did.

It was in injury time of the clash with Udinese in November 1998 that Del Piero made a run towards the bye-line and looked to steer a shot in ahead of defender Marco Zanchi. He ended up in a crumpled heap on the floor with his anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee ruptured, and his whole body squirming in agony. Watching him being stretchered from the field, many worried that his career might never be the same again, and although he lost his once explosive pace his response was that of a true champion.

The following summer, with his fitness restored, he was handed a new five-year contract, and by 2001 he was named club captain. Racking up many a ‘Gol alla Del Piero’ (his trademark curlers from the angled edge of the area), he was to inspire his side to Serie A successes in his first two seasons with the armband, and also led the team out at Old Trafford as he made a fourth Champions League final appearance in seven years in 2003 as the Bianconeri succumbed to Milan on penalties.

Further titles arrived in 2005 and 2006, with Alex scoring vital goals all the while. A winner at Inter, one against Udinese, and a crucial equaliser against Fiorentina would help see Juventus to their 29th league title, but heartache was to follow.

"I'm happy that you have smiled, cheered, cried, sung, shouted for me and with me. No colour will ever be brighter for me than black and white. You've made my dream come true. More than any other thing, today I just want to say thank you"

- Del Piero to Juventus fans

He would eventually make more appearances and score more goals than any other Juventus player in history, but it was perhaps during the Calciopoli scandal that Del Piero wove himself into the fabric of the club like never before. His exploits on the pitch had been magnificent, but his loyalty off it surpassed everything else. Demoted to Serie B, the Bianconeri were not about to lose their captain too, with Alex instead sticking around to finish top scorer in the second tier as they marched back to Serie A at the first time of asking.

He continued to lift them up by the boot straps the following year, becoming one of an elite band to win back-to-back capocannoniere crowns in the top two leagues by notching 21 goals as Juve finished third in their return to the summit.

That podium finish saw them re-enter the Champions League, where they were drawn in the same group as Real Madrid. He notched the first goal as the Bianconeri won 2-1 in Turin against Los Blancos, but it was at the Santiago Bernabeu that he proved to still be at the very top of the world game just a few days before his 34th birthday.

“This time we have to worry about being efficient and keeping an eye on Del Piero,” said Madrid keeper Iker Casillas before the return fixture. “He can beat you in many ways.” And he did. Two superb goals, including a trademark free-kick, earned him a deserved standing ovation from all areas of the famous stadium as he was substituted moments from the end of Juve’s 2-0 win. Only a select few visitors - Diego Maradona, Ronaldinho and Messi - have been granted such a privilege in Madrid by the notoriously hard to please home fans.

www.goal.com

Published in Articles

It's a unbelievable night for world of football and Azzurri fans around the globe.

Alessandro Del Piero, Alessandro Nesta, Genaro Gattuso, Philippo Inzaghi, Gianluca Zambrotta our great champions and memory makers, heroes of Nazionale and their respective clubs - Juventus & Milan - played their latest match of seria A football this afternoon, while leaving their fans and lovers tearful...

You can see some crazy moments that speaks a lot here:


In next days we will have some special articles about this our great champions.
Arrivederci miei amici

Published in News

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has affirmed that Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Antonio Di Natale are all likely to make his squad for Euro 2012, but ruled out call-ups for experienced attackers Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti.

The national team boss is expected to announce a provisional 30-man squad for this summer's tournament on Sunday, before eventually trimming his roster down to 23 players for the finals. And Prandelli has made it clear that there will not be any unexpected names.
"There will not be any surprises in the squad. Totti and Del Piero? Like I've said before, I'll only consider them in an emergency. I prefer to give younger players such as Roma's Fabio Borini a chance," Prandelli stated to Corriere della Sera.
"Cassano has shown that he loves the national shirt and he did all that he could to recover full fitness as soon as possible. He put pressure on the medics so that he could return to give us a helping hand.
"Balotelli can't afford to make any more mistakes, but I'm confident that he won't. We need to give players with talent an extra chance and there's no doubt that he's a special talent.
"I disagree with anyone who argues that Toto Di Natale doesn't deserve to be in the squad. He has scored almost 100 goals in three years and can be very helpful for us."
Italy are drawn with Spain, Republic of Ireland and Croatia in Group C at Euro 2012.

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The boss again gave a cryptic response to the idea of the pair of World Cup winners turning out for the Azzurri again and would like Mario Balotelli to 'calm down'.

It has been a number of years since the seasoned forwards made their last appearances for the national team, but the injuries to Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano have seemingly opened the door to the possibility of two sensational comebacks.

However, the coach again was tight-lipped when posed the question: "Totti and Del Piero wearing the Azzurri colours? I do not say yes and I do not say no, I say wait.

"Of course, I miss Rossi and Cassano, but I will wait until the last day for them. Balotelli is very strong, but still needs to calm down."

Prandelli had been touted as a potential candidate for the managerial post at Inter following Claudio Ranieri's sacking a few days ago.

In response to the reports, he admitted he does miss aspects of coaching at club level but insisted Italy remains his sole focus going into the summer's showpiece event.

"Inter? I am concentrating on the national team, but if it goes wrong in Poland and Ukraine, who knows," Prandelli told Tuttosport.

"I repeat, I do miss the day-to-day responsibility, I've never hidden it."

Italy open their European Championship campaign against Group C rivals Spain on June 10.

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