Former World Cup winner Del Piero, who became Australia’s biggest soccer import in September when he signed a two-year contract, was part of the team on Nov. 10 when Melbourne Victory came back from two goals down to beat Sydney FC 3-2. That came a week after the Central Coast Mariners routed Sydney 7-2.
“I’ve felt like it’s been a burden,” Crook told reporters at a press conference in Sydney yesterday. “This is 100 percent my decision.” His club’s last two results were the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.
Sydney FC beat competition from clubs in England, Switzerland and Scotland to sign Del Piero, who became a free agent in May after scoring 289 goals in a record 704 matches for 28-time Italian champion Juventus.
Sydney FC has been a pioneer in bringing high-profile players to the A-League. The club, which won the championship in 2006 and 2010, made former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke its first marquee signing in 2005 and also brought Brazilian World Cup winner Juninho to Australia in 2007.
Del Piero, 38, is being paid about A$2 million ($2.1 million) a season, making him the highest-paid player in Australia’s four football codes, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
During his time with Juventus, Del Piero won six Italian Serie A championships, one Champions League title and the Intercontinental Cup. He also played 91 games for the Italian national team and his 27 goals put him in a tie for fourth place on the country’s all-time goalscorers’ list.
England-born Crook, 49, is a former player for Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City, which he coached in 2009-10. Assistant coach Steve Corica will play a caretaker manager role at Sydney FC until a permanent replacement is named.
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