Alessandro Del Piero will stay in Australian soccer’s A-League after the World Cup-winning Italian forward took up the option of a second season with Sydney FC.
Del Piero, who’s scored 11 goals in 16 A-League starts for Sydney since joining in September, agreed with the club to activate the second year of a contract that the Sydney Morning Herald reported is worth A$2 million (US $2 million) a season, Sydney FC said today in an e-mailed statement.
Del Piero, 38, has helped lift Sydney FC’s average home crowd to 18,535, the best since the A-League’s inaugural season in 2005-06, and the club’s games are being televised live in Italy. The former Juventus captain’s 11 goals are already the most by a Sydney FC player in a single campaign.
“Alessandro’s arrival has been a wonderful success for Sydney FC and the A-League both domestically and internationally,” Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow said in the statement. “His performances on the field have been tremendous. Off the field he has also delivered unprecedented interest and profile for Sydney FC across all levels of the club.”
Sydney FC beat clubs in England, Switzerland and Scotland to the signing of Del Piero, who became a free agent in May after scoring 289 goals in a record 704 matches for Juventus. His salary makes him the highest-paid player in Australia’s four football codes, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
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 acquired Brazilian World Cup winner Juninho in 2007. Socceroos captain Lucas Neill last week joined on a guest contract until the end of the 2012-13 season.
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 goalscorers list.