ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO...On his way to Sydney
Sydney FC have pulled off the biggest signing in Hyundai A-League history, with Alessandro Del Piero joining the Sky Blues as their marquee man.
In front of a massive media throng, Del Piero confirmed his moved to the Sky Blues following four days of negotiations with Sydney FC chief executive officer Tony Pignata.
Sources in Italy indicate the 37-year-old has signed a two-year deal worth around $1.8 million per season, with an option for a for a third year.
Del Piero has been reportedly coveted by the likes of Celtic, Tottenham and FC Sion, while Liverpool were also credited with an interest after missing out on landing a striker on transfer deadline day.
"It's a special day for me. I am happy to announce that I just signed for two years for Sydney FC," he told the press conference. "For the next two years, I'm Australian.
"There was not a better option than this. Sydney is fascinating and different for many reasons. I want to explore a new country, a new continent.
“This is a very big moment for me because I want to continue my career in a new part of the world where I can make a major contribution and help grow the game I love."
Del Piero referred to Australia’s large Italian community and some of the friends he already had in Sydney, including Sky Blues goalkeeping coach and former AC Milan shot stopper Zeljko Kalac.
He said he had been working with a personal trainer since leaving Juventus and would be ready to hit the ground running at the start of the A-League season.
"The most important thing for me has always been the football and I want to help Sydney FC be successful," he said.
"It will be a great change after 19 years in the same team - I still will support Juve. There are mixed feelings in me. All of them make me look forward to play with Sydney FC.
"I am sure it will be a great adventure."
He added: "I know many things about Australia. I will enjoy rugby. Australia will be a great exploring experience.
"I come to Australia to score and win with Sydney but also to help ensure that Australian football evolves.
"I'm proud because it isn't a project of just a team and a city, but a full collaboration of all the nation."
He also revealed he had been close to signing a deal with the MLS but in the end had decided that Australia was the right decision for his career and his family. In doing so the football icon turned down far more lucrative offers from Europe, including a last minute pitch from Liverpool.
"I'm excited on beginning my journey with Sydney FC," he said. "Liverpool is a great club but Australia is a exciting country
“This is an exciting journey for me and I look forward to joining my new team mates in Sydney shortly.”
Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow hailed the signing as a turning point for the sport in Australia.
"This signing is a major coup for Sydney FC and marks a historic day for football in this country,” he said. “This is for all Australian football fans.
“Alessandro Del Piero is a global icon of the game and we are honoured he has chosen Sydney FC, ahead of many other options, as the club where he will begin the next chapter of his illustrious football career."
Del Piero was delighted to be joining Sydney FC and excited to begin a new chapter of his illustrious football career, in Sydney.
More to follow...