Former Juventus and Mariners goalkeeper Jess Vanstrattan believes there is no one better suited to the Hyundai A-League than Alessandro Del Piero.
Former Juventus and Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Jess Vanstrattan believes there could be no one better suited to the Hyundai A-League than Alessandro Del Piero.
Vanstrattan, 30, played alongside Del Piero during his season at Juve in 2007/08, and the Australian has fond memories of the way his former captain made him feel welcome upon joining one of the world-s biggest football clubs.
“He was one of the first people to come up and introduce himself and say, ‘Hello, you need help with anything?- He was really approachable, easy to talk to, just a down-to-earth guy,” Vanstratten said.
“We played golf together a few times, he-s just a really nice bloke, very humble, doesn-t think he-s above anybody else.”
Vanstrattan was only with Il Bianconeri for the one season, but that was enough to discover just what it was that made Del Piero one of the greats, and says that he isn-t surprised he eventually made his way Down Under.
“During my time in Italy, him and Pavel Nedved were the two most hard-working footballers I saw. I trained with Alex a few times obviously - he put quite a few goals past me. But he was a great trainer, always looked after himself and kept himself in great condition. It-s a testament to that that he-s able to come and play here now at 37.
“He was always a bit inquisitive about Australia; he-d come up and talk to me about it. I-d be watching surf videos on bus trips and he-d come up and watch some of them with me. It-s no surprise to me that he-s come out here. He-ll love the Australian lifestyle, the sunshine, the sport.”
Perhaps what has impressed most observers is the way in which Del Piero has handled the intense attention since his arrival in Australia.
It doesn-t compare to the scrutiny he came under in Italy but Vanstrattan admits that it-s Del Piero-s willingness to engage with the media and fans that makes him such a good fit for the A-League.
“Serie A is such a tough league; in terms of pressure and the media attention, I think it-s worse than the Premier League.
“The lives the footballers have in Italy... athletes in Australia have no idea. Whenever he goes out, walking down the street, he-s so famous, everyone loves him.
“But I think he-ll enjoy some of the peace he might get over here. He-s so used to being in the eye of the storm he-s always so calm. I-ve seen the way he-s been talking to the media. He-s always got time for people, never minds signing autographs.
“He gets what we-re trying to do down here, what-s the A-League-s about and what Sydney are trying to do. I honestly couldn-t think of a better person in world football, anyone better suited to come to the A-League.
“He could just come here, get his money and play, and live it up in Sydney. But you can tell he-s not that type of person.
"There have been marquees in the past that clubs haven-t looked at deeply or intelligently enough when making that decision. He-s a player of that talent and you don-t just lose that. When you get to that age players can lose the drive but Alex just loves football, you can see that.
"It-s great for the game; you can see the effect he-s had already. I take my hat off to Sydney and tony Pignata, what they-ve done is just amazing.”
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