A-League debuts come at opposite ends of scale

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 06/10/2012
Louis Fenton
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
THE DISHWASHER: The Phoenix’s Louis Fenton gets on with more mundane tasks.
Alessandro Del Piero
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
THE MILLIONAIRE: Sydney FC’s Alessandro Del Piero signs autographs on his arrival in Wellington.

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Two attacking talents at opposite ends of their careers will make highly anticipated A-League debuts at Westpac Stadium tonight.

Wearing yellow and black is 19-year-old Louis Fenton, who lives in Tawa with his parents and cleans Paul Ifill's boots at trainings.

In the blue corner is Italy's Alessandro Del Piero, a 37-year-old World Cup winner earning $2.5 million per season with Sydney FC.

Before stepping on the big stage, a nervous Fenton said he would try to relax by playing Fifa video games with his mates today.

"They're happy for me but at the same time trying to stop me getting a big head and giving me a bit of shit about it," said Fenton, a product of the club's academy.

"He [Del Piero] is a top player, he was one of the best in the world. So to have the chance to maybe play against him would be fantastic."

Sydney FC's precious cargo arrived safely in Wellington yesterday.

The biggest recruit in A-League history was relaxed as he chatted to media and fans and is expected to start tonight.

"It's all new for me," said Del Piero, who scored 208 goals in an dazzling 513-game career with Juventus.

"I'm very curious and very excited and I want to know what it means, playing in the A-League and especially Wellington."

Del Piero said he felt pressure to perform given his price tag and reputation but "it's normal, it's right like that."

The game is being screened live in Italy and there is enormous interest as to whether there is any magic left in Del Piero's ageing legs.

Ifill, expected to start on the bench behind Fenton tonight, believes there is.

"The thing with him is you haven't got to worry about his legs going or anything. He's 37 but he never had legs, that's just not his game, you know," Ifill said.

"He's just such a clever player and we're going to have to combat that."

And of Fenton, who coach Ricki Herbert has compared favourably to Marco Rojas and Kosta Barbarouses at the same age?

"That's high praise and you don't want to overcook too much too early because the pressure can get to you at that age," Ifill said.

"But on the flipside he is a very good player."

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- The Dominion Post

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