"I am certain that Del Piero really never grows old"- Diego Maradona
“Even as a child I was obsessed by the prospect of playing football. Nothing else ever interested me. It was just football.”- Alessandro Del Piero
Tomorrow, September 12th 2010, marks 17 years as a Juventus squad member for our captain, Alessandro Del Piero. He debuted against Foggia, a team that hasn't been in the Serie A since 1995 and who now play in the Serie C1. Tomorrow he'll face Sampdoria, the team that his brother Stefano once played for.
The past 17 years have been a mixture of both great joy and great disappointment for both Del Piero and Juventus. In that time, La Vechia Signora has won 7 Scudetti, 1 Coppa Italia, 4 Super Coppas, 1 European Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 1 Serie B Championship.
Alessandro has been there scoring and creating goals at every turn, from that night in Rome to that day in May of 2007 when Juventus were promoted back to the Serie A after a victory over Arezzo. Delp led the league in goals that year with 21.
Alessandro has not only been stellar for Juventus, he has been stellar for the Italian national side as well. In 91 appearances he's scored 27 goals, two of which have come in World Cups, one in France 2002 and one at Germany 2006. However, he has been absent from the Azzuri since 2008.
Mr. Del Piero has become a bona fide hero for Juventus and her fans over the past 17 years, playing spectacularly, with only one 'bad' season to his name, the 1998-1999 season in which he struggled with injury, only making 8 appearances.
And while critics may say he is washed up and over the hill, he is still proving them wrong. Last season, he was the Old Lady's main source of firepower, and even though Juventus struggled, Alessandro still showed that he can carry a team to a respectable (maybe not by Juventus standards, but in general) finish.
Luckily for him, he gets to share the striking burden with Vincent Iaquinta, Amauri, and Fabio Quagliarella this season, but this does not mean he won't show off his ability.
Alessandro has already scored twice this season, in the Europa League playoffs, placing a beautiful curving shot against Strum Graz and making an amazing free kick against Shamrock, one which makes a case for Del Piero as the best free kick taker in the world.
Through 17 years, Alessandro Del Piero has given everything he has to Juventus and the Italian national team. His hard work has paid off with numerous Scudetti, a Champions League title, and a World Cup.
Alessandro, we salute you. Here's to 17 more years!