Every now and then in football there is someone who stands out as a supreme performer for their club. To win over the hearts of the fans of one of the biggest clubs in Europe is by no means an easy feat, and takes more than just talent and saying thanks to the home fans in a post-match interview. Alessandro Del Piero is a prime example of someone in the modern game who cares about his club and has gained respect and support from fans across Italy. Right from the start of his career at Juve, when he first pulled on the black and white shirt, Alessandro was able to live out his dream of being a successful football player at the highest level.
In the 20 years that have followed, Alex has brought success, passion and professionalism to his club, not only showing outstanding loyalty, but performing to the highest standard season after season. With an unparalleled goal record for Juventus and over 200 league goals in almost 500 appearances, he goes down as one of the greats not just in Serie A, but in the Champions League being the eighth highest goalscorer of all time, and at International level as fourth highest for Italy. I still remember the time when Gary Neville of all people said about Del Piero, after a Champions League game with Juve, ‘He is the greatest player I ever played against, he twisted me incredibly.’ That’s not the sort of thing a Manchester United right back will say very often, but in the 90′s Del Piero seemed to crop up on numerous occasions to be a nemesis of United in Europe, scoring against them just 20 seconds into a match and rounding Schmeichel to score a fantastic goal in 1997.
Del Piero has endless awards and winners medals to show for his highly decorated career (7 Serie A titles, a Champions League title and an Intercontinental Cup), but he is widely known for his playing style, which helped shape the evolution of what is known as the trequartista or deep-lying forward, synonymous with the number 10 shirt.
His versatility means that he has played a number of different attacking roles, drawing comparisons with players such as Totti and Baggio and induces a license of creative freedom which allows him to drift and move around the attacking third, pulling the strings and putting the proverbial knife through butter.
World renowned manager Marcello Lippi always praised Del Piero’s intuitions, fantastic skill and ability on the ball. In Italy he has a trademark goal, approaching the edge of the area from the left curling the ball over the goalkeeper into the far top-right corner of the net. He is also known as a set piece specialist, scoring numerous free-kicks in his career, none more special than the one against Inter to secure the 29th Scudetto.
Aside from being a natural talent, Del Piero is also the consummate professional, a wonderful role model for anyone trying to etch out a career in professional football. Having won the Golden Foot award for personality and playing ability as well as being officially recognised 3 times for gentlemanly conduct, he is considered one of the good guys of the game.
His heart and commitment showed through none more than when he played for Juve against Bari after his father’s death, and scored a fantastic winning goal from a tight angle. In 2006, when Juventus were demoted to Serie B following the match fixing scandal, other big names like Ibrahimovic, Thuram and Cannavaro decided to leave, but Del Piero remained captain at the club, citing the fans and directors as his reason to stay. Fabio Cannavaro was once quoted as saying that Alessandro is the best person he has met in the sport, and few would argue. For all the scandal and greed we have seen in recent times in football, it comes as more than a welcome break to see someone so focused yet so open and professional in the way they conduct themselves, to sign a new contract, albeit only a 1 year extension to ensure the Juventus crest stays etches upon his chest. At 36 years of age, he still loves football, and Alessandro, the world of football still loves you.
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