Italian superstar and newest member of Sydney F.C., Alessandro Del Piero, arrived in Australia yesterday (September 16) to much excitement and fanfare.
The 37-year-old striker officially signed a two year deal with his new club earlier this month, for a reported annual salary of around AUS$2 million, turning down huge offers from both Liverpool and Celtic in the process.
A veteran of nearly two decades at the highest level of the game, Del Piero has spent the vast majority of the last 19 years playing for Juventus F.C. in the Serie A league in Italy.
He is also a prodigious member of the Italian national squad, and is currently their fourth all-time leading goal scorer, after Luigi Riva, Giuseppe Meazza and Silvio Piola.
Perhaps his proudest moment came during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, where he played a pivotal part throughout Italy's campaign before scoring during the penalty shootout in the final to help defeat France and take his country to a fourth World Cup victory.
Many commentators are speculating that the arrival of Del Piero could mark a new era of Australian football, as the game continues to grow in popularity throughout this country.
"For the next two years, I'm Australian," said Del Piero when his signing was confirmed on September 5.
"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's arrival will almost certainly boost Sydney F.C.'s odds in the upcoming Hyundai A-League season, set to officially kick off on Friday October 5.
Sydney has twice lifted the A-League cup, winning the inaugural event in 2005–06 and again in 2009–10. Local supporters will be hoping that the arrival of this Italian superstar will help their team reach those lofty heights yet again in the 2012-13 season.