WHEN Paul Keating won the ”unwinnable” election in 1993 and led Labor to another term in power, he thanked ”the true believers”, publicly declaring that the victory over Coalition leader John Hewson – a man he dubbed the ”Feral Abacus” – was a triumph for those who had kept the faith in the darkest days.
In a way, the successful pursuit and capture of former Juventus star and Azzurri mainstay Alessandro Del Piero has similar, if less politically charged, echoes and can be sheeted home to the faith in the game shown by ”the true believers” in soccer. In this case the kudos goes to Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata and Melbourne-based player agent and soccer entrepreneur Lou Sticca, who pulled off what most would have regarded as an impossibility.
It was their stubborn belief and dogged refusal to say no when all around were suggesting they were tilting at too exotic a windmill, that made the Del Piero deal happen. In the process, they showed that two figures from the world of ”old soccer” could pull off a spectacular success in the modern era of the game. Pignata had a spell in charge of Football Federation Victoria before heading across the Tasman to work as chief executive of Wellington Phoenix, staying in the New Zealand capital for several seasons before returning home to a corporate post in Melbourne, from whence he was plucked by Sydney.
Sticca’s roots in the old game are even deeper. He was the driving force in the dog days of the National Soccer League, and his vision helped create the Carlton Soccer Club which, for a few brief seasons before its financial collapse, was a marker for how the game needed to be developed.
The signing of a player like Del Piero would have been exactly the sort of coup Sticca would have envisaged for the Blues had they, and then the old league, not crashed out of existence.
What has been really interesting following the Del Piero signing has been the amount of Twitter and social media activity talking up the Italian’s arrival here as a catalyst not so much to relaunch the competition but to drag out those ”true believers” who abandoned the sport when the A-League was established.
Several correspondents have taken to the airwaves to announce people in that group are suddenly much more interested in buying a season ticket to watch Sydney FC now that Del Piero is there, sparking hopes other Europhiles who have been lukewarm on the domestic league, might follow suit. That is the power a global name can have, and part of the rationale for signing Del Piero is to lift Sydney’s brand awareness and also that of the game.
Already his decision to come to Australia has made waves in Europe and can only do good for the status of the A-League, giving it credibility as a destination for other big names seeking a different challenge towards the end of their careers.
He is the best-credentialled player to sign a long-term deal to come here – his World Cup, Champions League and several ”Scudettos” with Juventus trump Sydney’s former midfielder Juninho, who won a World Cup with the Brazilian national team. And while he is no spring chicken at almost 38, there is no reason to think he won’t perform. He has to, as he risks undoing much of the legacy he has already created.
Age should be no barrier in the modern era – Paolo Maldini played until he was 40, and other top-line Italians such as Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi and Pietro Vierchowod all played until the very twilight of their athletic careers, although they were defenders not attacking players like Del Piero.
The A-League kicks off in less than a month and it is to be hoped that Del Piero comes here in good shape and ready to play his part from the start.
We saw last year how what should have been an extraordinarily successful marketing ploy – Melbourne Victory’s signing of Harry Kewell – didn’t deliver what it could have, both on and off the pitch because the Socceroo star’s output was less than expected. Kewell arrived far short of match fitness and only began to make a serious impact in the latter half of what was a dysfunctional campaign for all.
Del Piero arrives with enormous goodwill and Sydney has pulled off a real coup.
The task is for him to drive the Sky Blues to the finals and build their supporter base off the pitch.
If he succeeds he will earn the thanks not just of Sydney fans but the wider soccer community.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲学校.