Alessandro Del Piero is excited to be the part of Indian Super League and reckons the first few games will be important. Manu Shankar reports.
It’s not every day that a European star comes to India to play in a football league.
That’s why when Alessandro Del Piero turns up to be a part of the Indian Super League it’s reason to celebrate.
Snapped up by Delhi Dynamos as their marquee player, Del Piero was in Delhi, looking excited and eager to be a part of something completely different.
“The ISL league is very important. Especially the first few games are going to be important; to understand another country and another culture is a huge challenge.
"I understand that there will be a lot of difficult situations but you solve the problem and go forward; that is my target. The task is difficult, but this is a new target," Del Piero during an interaction on Friday.
"My target for ISL is that we have to bring a lot of energy and passion, and I hope we find that in India as well. I am like a child who wants to understand everything about India. At the end of this experience I want to know more about India," he added.
‘Looking forward to matches against Trezeguet’
Immediately after landing in the country on Thursday, the former Italian ace went straight to the training ground to meet his teammates and coach for the tournament, which will be held in various venues across the country from October 12 to December 20.
Talk about his Juventus days, and his eyes lights up. For Del Piero, the Italian club still remains an important part of his life.
“Turin days were extremely hard. Those 19 years are a great part of my life. It still is, as it’s my home and I will go back to Turin someday,” he said.
Nicknamed 'Il Fenomeno Vero' Del Piero is excited by the fact he will be up against former Juve teammate David Trezeguet, who will playing for Pune FC.
"Trezeguet and all they are my former teammates and I am looking forward to matches against them."
‘Not going to be easy with hectic schedule’
Quizzed whether he has seen an Indian team or club play, his reply was straightforward.
"I have never seen an Indian team playing, but I will get to know more when I talk to my teammates. I hope ISL helps the national team," the World Cup-winning Italian legend said.
But he also realises that there will be challenges in the two-month long league.
"Travelling for 3-4 hours in a flight and then playing matches every three days, it is not going to be easy, but this is what the challenge is," he added.
As far as his playing position in the Dynamos outfit is concerned, Del Piero said, "I am in touch with the coach for the last 15 days, we have been speaking to each other over phone and we will have time to work out what is best for the team."
With Juventus Del Piero won eight Serie A titles
Del Piero, 10th in the all-time top-scorers’ list in the Champions League, featured in FIFA 100, a list of the top greatest living footballers compiled by Pele.
With Juventus, he won eight Serie A titles, a Champions League and a Coppa Italia. He has 91 international caps with the Azzuris and is remembered for scoring the second goal in the semi-final against Germany in the 2006 World Cup.
In all, Del Piero represented Italy in seven major international tournaments (Euro 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008; World Cup 1998, 2002, 2006), the second Italian footballer after Paolo Maldini to do so.