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Oct 11, 2012

Del Piero rejected Liverpool due to Heysel

Alessandro Del Piero has claimed he rejected a move to Liverpool because of the 1985 Heysel tragedy.

Del Piero, 37, surprised many by joining Sydney FC at the close of the transfer window after finally ending a 19-year association with former club Juventus.

Liverpool reportedly put in a late bid for the striker after Brendan Rodgers was left short of attacking options following Andy Carroll's departure to West Ham on loan - something the club deny.

However, the former Italy international has again insisted he was given the chance to move to Merseyside but felt he could not move to Anfield, out of respect for the 39 Juventus fans who died when trouble flared at the 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool, played at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels.

"Why I said no to Liverpool? The negotiations with Sydney were at an advanced stage and then I thought about what had happened at Heysel," Del Piero told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Juventus and Liverpool have been able to reconstruct their relationship but for many people that tragedy is an indelible memory."

The move to Australia has drawn some criticism but Del Piero is confident he can hold his head up high knowing he made the right choice.

"People can say what they want, but I'm not worried about that," he said. "I had ample possibilities open to me; America, Brazil, Thailand, Qatar, Spain, England, China, Japan.

"But I wasn't after the best financial offer and I'd already won everything as a player. I didn't need to play in the Champions League again."

The former Padova player is more than happy at his new club and in a new continent but for a player so synonymous with one club and one country, he admits he is a little surprised at the way his career has panned out.

"I didn't think that my career at Juve would finish that way," he said "I would have never of thought it a year and a half ago but things change. I am left with the satisfaction that I gave everything I had to Juventus."

But Del Piero does believes his Juventus career came to the perfect ending after the ovation he received at the final home game of last season.

The affection he received from the fans on that day left both himself and his team-mates stunned.

"The fans surpassed themselves that afternoon, even my new team-mates have spoken to me about that day as they saw it on TV," he said. "Buffon told me that he envied me for that. I knew I was loved, but not like that.

"I sat on the bench after being substituted and the fans dragged me back on to the pitch. I did two laps of the pitch, they threw hundreds of scarves at me.

"Every now and again I stopped to take in the moment. I saw people cry. It was extraordinary because it was so spontaneous."

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