Alessandro Del Piero commits to Sydney FC
Alessandro Del Piero has committed to play another A-League season with Sydney FC.
The 38-year-old former Juventus and Italy star finalized the contract with the club late Wednesday and announced his decision Thursday.
Del Piero joined Sydney for the 2012-13 season with an option for a second year, and has scored 11 goals in 18 matches in the A-League - already a club record for a single season.
"It was a big challenge for me and my family to come here, I changed everything in our life," he said. "That's why I needed to understand what is good and what is not. For sure it's good here, and the relationship with the club," is good.
"I chose Sydney FC at the beginning of this season because I wanted to show my love of football in another country and I have enjoyed the challenge."
Del Piero's arrival has given the league's glamor club a boost in season membership, match attendance, TV ratings, merchandising and marketing.
"Alessandro's arrival at Sydney FC has been a wonderful success for Sydney FC and the A-League both domestically and internationally," Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow said.
"His performances on the field have been tremendous, highlighted by him becoming the leading goalscorer for Sydney FC in a single season, but off the field he has also delivered unprecedented interest and profile for Sydney FC across all levels of the club.
"It's incredible to think every week there are football fans across Italy tuning in to watch Sydney FC play live. That's just one example of the impact he continues to have."
Sydney FC didn't have instant success on the pitch with Del Piero but has been an important part of the resurgence as the Sky Blues lifted themselves off the bottom of the standings and into fifth place - in playoffs contention - since ex-Australia coach Frank Farina took over as coach late last year.
The climb up the rankings certainly helped in Del Piero's decision to remain at Sydney FC and reject reported offers from Europe and South America.
"Weeks ago we had to be concentrating to come out of a terrible situation with the team. Now we are in a good position," he said. "But it's not enough. We have six games remaining and we have to push our energy to make the playoffs."
The club signed a two-year deal with major sponsor Webjet weeks before discussions with Del Piero became public, creating global and domestic exposure many times what the online travel agency expected - and making its deal worth much more than the $500,000 a season it originally agreed to pay.
Meanwhile, Football Federation Australia has promoted chief financial officer John Kelly to chief operating officer, making him second-in-command for day-to-day operations under chief executive David Gallop. The former Network Ten executive was instrumental in sealing the FFA's $160 million television deal over four years.