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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 20, 2013

Del Piero thrilled to stay with Sydney FC

Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero says he never gave any serious thought to leaving A-League club Sydney FC.

The 38-year-old World Cup winner was on Thursday locked up for a further season, with both parties agreeing to activate the second year of his $2 million-a-season contract.

Del Piero had been in talks for months with Sydney FC and attracted interest from foreign clubs before a deal was finalised late on Wednesday.

But the former Juventus striker said staying in Australia was always what he wanted to do.

"No. No. No," Del Piero replied when asked if he was seriously considering leaving the Sky Blues.

"I took a lot of time (to agree to another season) ... it was a big challenge for me and my family to come here, I changed everything in our life.

"That's why I needed to understand what is good and what is not. For sure it's good here, and the relationship with the club (is good)."

Del Piero has enjoyed a spectacular first season in the A-League, scoring 11 goals in 18 matches - the highest-ever goal haul by a Sydney FC player in a single season.

After a horrible start to their 2012/13 campaign, the Sky Blues have risen to fifth under coach Frank Farina.

Del Piero said the turnaround, his family's happiness, and the vision of Farina and chairman Scott Barlow were all crucial factors in his decision to remain with the club.

"Weeks ago we had to be concentrating to come out of a terrible situation with the team. Now we are in a good position but it's not enough," he said.

"We have six games remaining and we have to push our energy to make the playoffs.

"... Everyone wants improvement next year, everyone wants to do better and better every week and that's what I feel when I talk with Scott and all the board and the boss.

"That's why I'm very happy to stay here and do another great and better year."

Aside from his dazzling skills, Del Piero has been a smash hit off the park, helping to generate greatly-increased media interest, crowds and television ratings.

Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow was thrilled to have agreed to terms with Del Piero well before the end of the season.

"On the pitch his class has been on display ... and off the pitch the impact Alessandro has had has been huge," Barlow said.

"He has raised the profile of not only Sydney FC, but the A-League as a whole.

"He has done that here in Australia, but also internationally.

"It's incredible to think every week there are football fans across Italy tuning in to watch Sydney FC play live. That's just one example of the impact he continues to have."

Barlow suggested negotiations were reasonably straightforward with Del Piero's camp.

"There wasn't (a sticking point). We made it quite clear to Alessandro some time ago that we were quite keen for him to say," Barlow said.

"He made it clear to us some time ago that he was very happy to stay as well.

"We worked through some of the detail of the contract that needed to be worked through, and that concluded late yesterday."

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