Juventus has laid claim some fabulous footballers throughout its illustrious history and Alessandro Del Piero is one of the most revered of all.
⚫️⚪️ Del Piero's legacy
Aside from his vast collection of silverware collected during 19 years at the club, Del Piero also possessed that intangible X-Factor and other traits that simply couldn't be defined. It was his elusive qualities on a football pitch that made him a nightmare for defenders but a darling and dream come true for the Juve faithful.
Del Piero's legacy can be measured both by the magnitude of his achievements on a football pitch, and the multitude of hearts that his football touched as he remained loyal to Juventus through thick and thin.
705 senior appearances for the club (an all-time record), 290 goals for the club (you guessed it, also an all-time record), six Scudettos and one Champions League crown in 1996, followed a decade later by crowning glory with Italy in the World Cup in 2006 on German soil. Del Piero, so famous for the number 10 Juve jersey on his back, wore number 7 jersey as he arrived with four minutes left of the 90 in world football's biggest showpiece spectacle.
🌍💔 From the top of the world to Serie B
At the time, Del Piero was admittedly past his brilliant best at 32 years of age, but his experience and know-how were priceless qualities to introduce on a night of high drama and tension that will long be remembered for Zidane and Materazzi. Del Piero kept his cool to slot home Italy's penultimate spot-kick after the sides couldn't be separated after 120 minutes and the Azzurri were champions of the world for a 4th time and for the first time in 24 years. Less than two months before Italy's epic World Cup Final win, Del Piero's Juventus was demoted from Serie A and stripped of their last two Scudettos after the Calciopoli scandal that rocked Italy. This fact makes his and Italy's achievement all the more remarkable.
If ever we needed a reminder that that football often resembled a television soap opera, this was it, but there was nothing fictional or humorous about what was playing out. Match-fixing was rife in one of world football's most outstanding domestic leagues. The players, like Del Piero, were oblivious to it but they ended up paying many of its consequences.
Plenty of players chose to jump ship when the mighty Juventus was relegated to Serie B, the second tier of Italian football, but Del Piero and the iconic Gianluigi Buffon, among others, remained.
🎂 Alessandro Del Piero is 46 today— Futaa.com (@Futaacom) November 9, 2020
🌍 World Cup winner in 2006.
🏆 #UCL winner in 1996.
⚫️ Juve’s all-time record scorer with 290 goals.
🏟 705 @juventusfcen appearances, also an all-time record.
🌿 Evergreen veteran of 19 years with the Bianconeri.
🔟 A legendary number 10 pic.twitter.com/umg1tgxaI9
To cut a long story short, Del Piero and his teammates were back in the big time by the 2007-08 season after making a mockery of inferior opposition in the campaign prior. Del Piero scored 20 goals in Serie B to end as the top-scorer and he had since surpassed a double century of goals for the club. It would have hurt him and his pride seeing fierce rivals Internazionale collecting three consecutive Scudettos between 2008 and 2010 and then Juve finished 7th in the 2010-11 campaign when AC Milan stormed to the title, but in his final season, Del Piero became a champion of Italy for the sixth time before leaving as a legend in 2012.
If you haven't seen Del Piero's intoxicating mixture of flair, finesse, balance, dribbling ability, mastery over set pieces and a whole lot more, here's a reminder.
A modern football great who's nicknamed Pinturicchio, and one of the most famous wearers of the fabled number 10 jersey.