Italy great Del Piero signs for Sydney
Published : 05 Sep 2012 16:48:18
Former Italy and Juventus great Alessandro Del Piero announced on Wednesday that he had sealed a two-year contract with Sydney FC, making the 2006 World Cup winner the biggest signing in A-League history.
"I am happy to be able to experience this new adventure, this is a special day for me," the 37-year-old told a press conference in Turin.
He added that he would be an "Australian for two years".
According to Italian media, Sydney captured their man ahead of interest from Swiss side FC Sion and Premier League giants Liverpool in a deal worth 1.6 million euros (US$2m).
"I thank all the clubs that showed interest in me," Del Piero said, adding that offers had also come in "from Italian clubs".
He conceded that in opting for Sydney he had made "a radical choice", but noted: "Here (in Italy) my career was finished. I was on the lookout for something new, for a new perspective.
"So that's why I chose Australia, I don't have any regrets."
He added that, despite being Down Under, he would continue "to support like a fan" his former club Juventus with whom his 19-year career ended last season when the club did not offer him a new deal after they had won their first league title since 2003.
Last week Sydney had announced that they had signed the striker, only to be forced into an embarrassing U-turn on their website after a denial by Del Piero's camp.
The main sticking points were reportedly the player's business interests in Italy, where he employs as many as 40 people, and his ongoing lucrative sponsorship commitments that take up a lot of his time.
But Del Piero has now shaken hands with Sydney representatives in Turin after a week of intense negotiations.
Sydney chief executive Tony Pignatta was thrilled to have finally sealed the deal.
He described it as "a fantastic opportunity for us and, more generally for football in Australia".
He added: "We are very proud of the decision made by Del Peiro".
Del Piero had also been linked with Scottish champions Celtic, English Premier League new boys Southampton and Sporting Braga of Portugal.
The Italian began his professional career at Padova, where he played only 14 games before being signed by Juventus in 1993.
He remained with the Turin-based club until 2012, scoring 208 goals in 513 appearances, and was a member of the Italy side that beat France on penalties in the 2006 World Cup final.