Alessandro Del Piero has been keeping the rocking chair firmly locked away and everyone guessing where he will play out his final days since being forced out at Juventus in the summer.
A painful snub from the club where he had reached legendary status, and where a few within its hierarchy felt he had become a little too big for his size-six boots, left the 37-year-old with a few hard facts to face. He believed that he had another year in Serie A left in him but he could not contemplate playing for another Italian club in the top flight and dropping down a league at home was totally out of the question.
There were no end of suitors from what could be termed the backwaters – sorry developing leagues - with the MLS looking the likely destination until it became clear when it came to endorsement opportunities Stateside he was never going to reach anywhere near the sort of status held by the likes of David Beckham, required to make up for the relative modest salary.
His free-agent status left plenty of time to make a decision
A trip to Japan was ripe for some Billy Murray-style hanging around swanky hotels and a bit of a kick-about before returning home to assess what else was on offer, with his brother-agent Stefano.
His free-agent status left plenty of time to make a decision. South America – and Argentina in particular – looked enticing at one stage although in reality it was would be almost like playing in Italy but with all those young defenders out to make a name for themselves, it would have taken its toll on Ale’s aging legs.
Switzerland is just up the road from his home in Piedmont but although FC Sion opened discussions there was little in the way of that X factor to make it worthwhile apart from chatting to Rino Gattuso - who had joined in the summer - about the good old days.
What the Del Pieros want is for their man to become the face of a domestic league
What about one last appearance or three in the Champions League then? But that’s no walk in the park in your autumnal days so although Celtic and Braga made enquiries and created the sort of buzz the Del Piero clan were seeking during the closing days of the transfer window, in reality they were never in the running.
What the Del Pieros want is for their man to become the face of a domestic league much as Beckham has been in the MLS and the arrival of Sydney FC on the scene certainly ticks all the right boxes: a struggling league in need of a lift provided by an aging star looking for a final swansong where his quality would still outshine the local talent.
However, the Australians were a little too enthusiastic when they were given the green light to present their plans over three nights via video conferencing, posting an official confirmation on their website that Del Piero had signed a two-year deal worth 2 million dollars a season.
...even though Del Piero is creeping towards middle age he still he has the belief that he can cut it in the big time
Something must have gotten lost in translation when it emerged that although Del Piero was open to giving the A-League a much-need boost there was still a lot of talking to be done. The Sydney officials were forced to backtrack and book their flights to Turin for an audience with the great man.
They will arrive at the beginning of the week to present their PowerPoint on the benefits of life Down Under where Del Piero obviously has God-like status among the Italian community – but could build up a strong sponsorship and endorsement portfolio while not having to overextend himself too much on the pitch. Hopefully they will not overstate the latter point because even though Del Piero is creeping towards middle age he still he has the belief that he can cut it in the big time and if only the Premier League would come a-callin’.
Arsenal had been linked in the summer but there have been reports in the last few days that Southampton are ready to present their own offer of £800,000-a-year over two years plus performance-related bonuses. The South coast of England may offer the competitive appeal but the lure of a new life on the Gold Coast might be too tempting for a star in his twilight years.
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