Juventus hero Del Piero is truly world class

BILLY HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 09/09/2012
Alessandro Del Piero
Getty Images
LEGEND OF THE GAME: Sydney FC have signed Juventus' great Alessandro Del Piero for the coming A League season.

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OPINION: The sensational signing of legend Alessandro del Piero by Sydney City for the upcoming A-League season is the biggest thing since, well, Melbourne Victory signed Harry Kewell last season.

But while Kewell at his best was indeed a fantastic player, Del Piero is a genuine superstar. A World Cup winner, Champions League winner and multi Serie A winner. He has enough medals and records to sink a ship.

What holds him even dearer to the hearts of the fans of Juventus, for who he made a record number of appearances over 19 seasons, and has earned him great respect worldwide, occurred when Juve were dumped into Serie B as punishment for match fixing. While other Juve stars scarpered like rats fleeing a sinking ship, Del Piero stayed on and guided Juve back into the top flight.

Last season Del Piero helped Juve to another Serie A title, and left the field for the final time to an ovation fit for the king that he is.

Del Piero is still held in high enough regard that he was offered contracts with big clubs around the world, but he chose to accept the one from Sydney, and the only question now is whether he can live up to the hype? No-one doubts that Del Piero is worth the investment in terms of the interest he'll generate, and tickets he'll sell.

But will he have the same impact on the field? Being the consummate professional, he'll give the proverbial 110 per cent, but at nearly 38, the pace that is crucial to any player, but especially attacking players of his type, is seriously on the wane.

Fans all over Australia and New Zealand are hoping there's still enough gas in the tank for the great Italian to show why he was named in the world's top 125 living players.

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The All Whites have done way more than just take three points from their World Cup qualifying win over New Caledonia on Friday night.

They've put to rest a couple of rumours that might have niggled at the back of the minds, like that feeling you get just as you're taking off on an overseas holiday that you've left the oven on.

The first is that "these island nations are getting better all the time". Not according to the Fifa world rankings they're not. And the second is that “the island nations are f---ing hard to beat on their own cabbage patch".

This result shows that if you treat the match seriously, a country like New Zealand will beat a country like New Caledonia (population 260,000, Premier League stars 0) no problem.

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You thought Cristiano Ronaldo couldn't get any more objectionable didn't you? There was the famous wink when he got Wayne Rooney sent off, there was the petulant sulking when he got subbed by Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

There was the quote: "Why don't people like me? Probably because I'm rich, famous and handsome". There's the bleating and cheating.

But now there's the request for his wages to be increased by 150 per cent to NZ$49 million a year to stay with Real Madrid. You can't help but feel for the Portuguese plonker. Currently on just $19.6m, and with the cost of hair products going up, he's in a difficult situation.

- Billy Harris is a former All White

- Sunday Star Times

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