Arthur Stanley and Nikkie Beltran
ITALIAN superstar Alessandro Del Piero says he is “curious and excited” about the prospect of captaining the Foxtel A-League All Stars against the club that made him a legend – Juventus – at Stadium Australia on Sunday 10 August.
In a giant match-up equivalent to David Beckham lining up against Manchester United clash, Del Piero said it was a great opportunity to lead the best of the A-League against Italy’s most famous club. At a glittering ticket launch at the Sydney Opera House Tuesday, Juve officials declared they intended to bring a full-strength side to Sydney led by captain Gianluigi Buffon.
This will be the first time Del Piero has ever played against the team where he spent 19 glorious years, 11 seasons as captain, scored a record 290 goals and played 705 matches.
The Stadium Australia football blockbuster will mark the second time the best of the A-League has been brought together in Sydney to take on one of the great clubs of international football. Last season the All Stars – led by Brett Emerton – took on mighty Man U in front of a capacity-crowd of 83,127.
This year’s Juventus fixture is expected to deliver similar displays of grandeur and like the Manchester United event, which sold out in minutes, the Juventus clash is set to inject millions of dollars into the NSW economy and is another massive win for Sydney and NSW.
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The 10 August blockbuster will be telecast live on Channel Seven, and beamed into Europe where news of Del Piero’s appearance in the game has already created headlines.
Asked how he would feel lining up against the famous black and white shirts of Juve, Del Piero told assembled guests at the Sydney Opera House: “I really don’t know, because I’m very curious about this event.
“But for sure I will be excited. Also I will be excited for a celebration of football in Australia. It’s a massive event and the FFA do great work.
“It’s a great opportunity the FFA has given to me, and it will also be a great opportunity for football fans here in Australia to see a different kind of game. But celebrating the game will be the main cause, and the main atmosphere at the Olympic Stadium.”
Asked if it was possible that the August 10 clash at Stadium Australia would be his football swan song he said: “Yes, it is possible, this may be the final one but maybe not.
“Now is not the moment for me to answer that and what I want to do for the future.”
FFA CEO David Gallop noted the Juve squad could contain players from up to a quarter of the teams at this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
“To have a club of the calibre of Juventus FC come to Sydney is a massive coup for football in Australia,” said Gallop. “To put it into perspective, it’s very possible that of the 24 players in the Juventus FC first team squad, 16 players could be at the 2014 World Cup representing eight different nations.
“This match will be a fantastic opportunity for fans to see the best of the A-League line-up against some of the world’s best international footballers in our own backyard.”
NSW Major Events Minister George Souris said: “By hosting this champion team, Sydney and NSW will again be on show to the world, confirming our position as Australia’s home of major events.
“The NSW Government has secured 197 events since March 2011 – boosting the State’s economy by about $1.33 million.”
Juventus FC – the most successful club in Italian history with a worldwide fan base of 250 million – including an estimated 1.4 million fans in Australia – confirmed they planned to bring a full-strength squad to Sydney for the game.
Fans will again have the opportunity to help select the head coach of the Foxtel A-League All Stars and the players in the squad via online voting mechanism. Voting details will be available from the new Foxtel A-League All Stars website – www.a-leagueallstars.com.au – in coming weeks.
But there is no need to vote for a captain – that man by popular demand will be the great ADP.