I make no secret of my admiration of Alessandro Del Piero, The King, Il Pinturicchio, Il Capitano...Ale. And today, I finally got to come face to face with the Juventus legend himself at a Sydney FC training session ahead of their clash with Brisbane Roar.
Without trying to be cliche or dramatic, it was an indescribable feeling...I mean, I was shaking, literally shaking.
The session lasted for just over an hour and during that time the former Italian International practiced set-pieces, took part in small sided games and discussed tactics with team mates. Whilst he was head-and-shoulders above the rest of the squad during the scheduled session he still remained back for an extra half an hour following to work on his own personal drills.
For the short while I witnessed ADP train I came to understand just why he is so good. Throughout the duration of the entire time he was training, he was 100 percent focused on what was at hand. He didn't stop for drink breaks and made sure after every set piece he took he gave feedback to his teammates about what to work on.
He may not be the captain of Sydney FC, but there is no doubting why he was so successful at Juventus, he is a born leader...player/manager maybe?
You could easily mistake yourself for turning up to a Juventus training camp considering the number of Bianconeri whom visit Del Piero at the Sydney training grounds. Some two hours later, he emerged from the group and unsurprisingly was swamped by fans.
Whilst most players sign a few autographs and move on, Del Piero stays. He stays, signs every jersey, takes every photo, films video messages, writes cards, he has time for each and every person who comes to see him. It is one thing to read about his demeanor off the pitch, but it is another thing to see it in action, it's brilliant.
After getting a photo and a couple of jerseys signed, I handed Ale a copy of the "Legends of Football: Alessandro Del Piero, Il Pintrucchio" article I wrote here on B/R. He signed off on my copy and took the other. Whilst I wouldn't have expected him to take it further than the next bin, the fact he had a look through it was enough for me to conclude he will forever be the greatest footballer to ever live.
He assured me he is well and suggested that a hug was probably not a good idea considering he was covered in sweat, but after a pat on the back it was time to say goodbye.
Many people never get to meet their footballing hero and I will never forget the day I met Alessandro Del Piero. Legend and gentleman of the game.