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IAN CROOK..."I think we need to give him some licence"
SYDNEY FC chairman Scott Barlow said 'the planets aligned' for the Sky Blues as they secured the signature of Italy and Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero.
Del Piero rejected a wave of other offers, including several from Europe, to put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the A-League club. The contract is understood to be an Australian football record worth $2 million per season.
"I wouldn't like to go into the details of the contract," Barlow said on Thursday. "But this does represent the largest professional sporting contract in Australian history and the numbers that have been discussed aren't too far off the mark."
Despite being 37 years of age, Del Piero is still expected to dominate, having helped Juventus to an unbeaten season in the Serie A.
Barlow believes the striker can still play at the highest level and will do as much off the pitch as he will on it.
"Clearly he is a global icon of the game and he can have a major, major impact on us as a club," Barlow said. "He can inspire a new generation of Sydney FC fans, a new generation of future Sydney FC players."
Coach Ian Crook said he is delighted to work with a player of Del Piero's calibre and is confident he can get him to gel with the other players.
"I think we need to give him some licence," Crook said.
"Obviously we'll talk when he comes in, in terms of our shape and in terms of our structure. But there's never a headache when it's something like this because it's just great to have him here."
Del Piero is expected to arrive in the country in just over a week.
Brisbane Roar coach Rado Vidosic, meanwhile, hopes the landmark signing will encourage owners of other clubs to open their wallets and invest in the competition.
In what has been described as a period of 'consolidation', owners across the Hyundai A-League are tightening their purse strings and resisting the urge to splash out on big-name players due to large financial losses.
But Vidosic said the Del Piero move was an 'investment' in the future of the game and that other clubs should follow Sydney's lead.
"I would love to see more clubs take initiative and bring more players of that quality to the A-League," Vidosic said.
"You would hope (that other world-class players follow Del Piero), not just for the players but also for the A-League clubs to see it as a good investment.
"We've seen that it's worked really well in the United States of America and you can see it happening in China, in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Qatar. I think that's the way the game is progressing in our part of the world."
The Roar, owned by the Indonesian Bakrie Group, only have one marquee player - German playmaker Thomas Broich, who is close to extending his contract with the club.
Brisbane will host Sydney twice this season - on November 11 and in March next year - and will be counting on Del Piero's presence to boost crowd numbers at Suncorp Stadium.
"I remember when we played against Robbie Fowler on a Wednesday, and it was probably one of our bigger crowds of the season just because of him," Vidosic said.
"Del Piero is an even bigger name in the world of football, so it's a great opportunity for the A-League."