Alessandro Del Piero living up to the hype
With marquee star Alessandro Del Piero kicking goals on and off the pitch, Sydney FC are hopeful of threatening another crowd record at ANZ Stadium next week as the A-League's dream start continues.
The Italian superstar's arrival generated an unprecedented level of hype for the league before a ball had been kicked, and after three games for the Sky Blues, he's living up to it.
The 37-year-old scored the decisive goal in front of a sell-out crowd in Sydney's 1-0 win over Western Sydney in Saturday's derby at Parramatta Stadium, their first victory of the season.
It was his second goal in as many weeks and his all-round performances have received high praise, with his impact even surpassing the expectations of Sydney chief executive Tony Pignata, who played a key role in signing him.
"I knew he'd be good but three games in and he's starred in all three games," Pignata said.
"It just goes to show the kind of calibre of player and person he is.
"He's adapted to the A-League quickly and he's been a revelation off the field as well.
"Even last night leaving the ground, there was fifty to sixty people waiting for him and he took his time and took photos and signed autographs. He's just brilliant."
While Sydney have been forced to shift next Sunday's clash with Perth Glory to ANZ Stadium while their home ground Allianz Stadium is being re-turfed, Pignata anticipated another bumper crowd at the 84,000-capacity Olympic venue.
He said there was no reason the club's regular season crowd record of 35,419, set at Del Piero's first home game at Allianz Stadium a fortnight ago, couldn't be bettered again.
"The capacity is there. We've had a good win and Perth are a good team so why not?" Pignata said.
"Hopefully the spillover crowd (from big attendances at Allianz Stadium and Parramatta Stadium) can come at ANZ and people can enjoy watching Del Piero in action.
"He's proven he's well worth the admission price."
Del Piero is not the only marquee star living up to the hype with Newcastle's Emile Heskey also netting for the second successive week in the Jets' 3-2 win over Central Coast on Saturday.
A crowd of 15,289, the club's biggest attendance in almost two years, watched on at Hunter Stadium.
The Jets have recovered strongly from an opening loss to Adelaide with back-to-back wins over Sydney and the Mariners.
They will next face Melbourne Victory, who ground out a badly-needed 2-1 win over previously unbeaten Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
Wellington Phoenix remain unbeaten after holding reigning champions Brisbane to a 1-1 draw in New Zealand on Sunday.