Del Piero aims to awaken passions ... and find a kangaroo
Updated: 2012-09-18 10:25
SYDNEY - Alessandro Del Piero aims to stir a latent passion for soccer among the Australian people in his two years playing at Sydney FC, the Italy and Juventus great said on Monday.
The 37-year-old striker, who will be paid A$2 million ($2.11 million) a year, also welcomed the huge weight of expectation on him to make a big impression in a country where soccer trails Australian rules football and the rugby codes in popularity.
Former Juventus soccer player Alessandro Del Piero of Italy smiles during his first official Sydney FC news conference in Sydney, Sept 17, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
"I know it is a young league but I know a lot of Italian, English, Greek and people from the former Yugoslavia emigrated to Australia," Del Piero, who arrived in Australia on Sunday, told his first news conference.
"Everyone here has soccer in their blood and we hope to awaken that and get them as passionate about football as they are about other sports."
Del Piero, who was released by Juventus in May after 19 seasons with the Turin club, said the decision to turn down offers from clubs in Europe and other parts of the world to come to Australia's A-League had been relatively simple.
"Most of my friends said, 'okay, you want to move but there are a lot of places closer,'" he said. "But I chose the best place for me. It was easy because of the project, it was very interesting for me.
"Sometimes I decide with my feelings but this decision was not just with my feelings but with my head."
Persuading his family was another matter and Del Piero said he had used Australia's distinctive fauna to sell the move to his son.
"Tobias is four-years-old and doesn't understand much so I told him we were going to a place like a zoo where we could see kangaroos," he joked.