Alessandro Del Piero made an emotional return to his first club, Padova, on Wednesday night, although he could not prevent current side Sydney FC from going down to a 3-2 defeat.
Former Italy international Del Piero is embarking on his second season with the A-League side and the 38-year-old paid his former home a visit with his whole family in attendance.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the standing ovation and I’d like to thank the people of Padua,” he said. “I’m delighted and so proud about tonight.”
A 15,000-strong crowd turned up at the Stadio Euganeo for what could prove to be the 2006 World Cup winner’s swansong on Italian soil, but Del Piero was unable to add his name to the scoresheet.
The forward had already been replaced when Sydney were awarded a penalty late in the game and, despite the entire stadium calling for him to step up to the spot, he could only watch on as Carle scored.
“I would have loved to have taken that penalty,” he told Sky television. “But it’s fine -- I’m still delighted about tonight. I played a lot today and that pleased me, although I’m still lacking a bit of fitness. We’re still at the beginning of pre-season, though.”
Del Piero scored 208 goals for Juventus in 513 appearances in 19 years for the Bianconeri, whom he joined from Padova in 1993. He was capped 91 times by Italy, scoring the extra-time goal against Germany in the 2006 World Cup semi-final that effectively booked the Azzurri’s place in the Berlin final.