The grounds of Budgewoi Football Club. Budgewoi Football Club.
Alessandro Del Piero faces the media in Sydney yesterday.
FROM the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to the humble surroundings of Budgewoi?
Until last night, this was the fate set to be bestowed on one of the greatest footballers of all time, Alessandro Del Piero.
”Our Holy Grail” – perhaps a more apt description for the 70,000-seat Olimpico – is how the Budgewoi Football Club website describes the modest Budgewoi Sports Complex on the central coast.
Pleasant a facility though it is, it could have hosted one of the most eagerly anticipated football events of 2012: Del Piero’s first match in a Sydney FC shirt.
It was there that Sydney were due to face the Newcastle Jets in a friendly match this Saturday, set to be held behind closed doors.
You couldn’t get a venue further removed from the place where Del Piero played his last competitive match. It was at the Stadio Olimpico, in front of a packed house, where his club of two decades, Juventus, faced Napoli in the Coppa Italia final on May 20.
Napoli won 2-0, but when Del Piero was substituted in the 68th minute both sets of fans gave him a standing ovation.
However, amid the exploding interest in Del Piero’s arrival – and the certainty of thousands trying to get a glimpse of Saturday’s clash – the match was cancelled last night by Newcastle, the host club.
The match could still be played elsewhere if the clubs can agree on a venue, but Sydney officials confirmed last night that they had no say on where the match would be played if it were to go ahead.
Del Piero now has just 18 days to prepare until his first A-League match for Sydney, away to Wellington Phoenix, on October 6.
The club has only one game left before the season proper – another closed-doors friendly, against Central Coast at Macquarie University on September 27.
Asked about his fitness at his first official news conference at the Star casino yesterday, Del Piero said he wouldn’t have any problems, having worked out with a team in Turin.
”I am coming from two months training with my personal trainer and with a young team in Italy,” he said. ”I do everything I can do to stay in better condition.
”Now I need to go with the team, to know the other players, the coach [and] what he needs.”
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