Sydney FC have paid tribute to Alessandro Del Piero after confirming that the Italian striker is leaving the club.
The World Cup-winner and former Juventus forward signed for the Australian side in 2012 and scored 24 goals in 48 games, leading the club as far as the A-League semifinals this season.
Sydney FC’s chairman Scott Barlow praised the impact of Del Piero, stating that the forward was the biggest signing in Australian football history and will be sorely missed.
"Two years ago Sydney FC signed one of the greatest players to have ever worn a football shirt, Alessandro Del Piero," Barlow told the Australian Football Federation’s website on Monday.
"At the time, if you had said Del Piero would be playing in Australia, few people would have believed it possible.
"His signing was the biggest in Australian football history and it lifted Sydney FC and the A-League onto the world stage."
Barlow believes that Del Piero’s time in Australia will inspire a new generation of footballers, while it was also revealed that the Sydney FC and the player will now discuss ways of continuing the player's off-field relationship with the club.
"There is no doubt that Alessandro’s contribution has laid the foundations for a lasting legacy and he has inspired a whole new generation of Sydney FC football fans and future players," Barlow continued.
"The next generation of Sydney FC stars will be the kids who came along with their parents to watch Del Piero on the pitch in Sydney.
"While it would have been fantastic to see Alessandro remain in Sky Blue, ultimately this has been his decision."
Del Piero confirmed his departure on his own website, thanking the fans and the club for his stay in Asustrlia.
"Australia, the moment has arrived to say "arrivederci"," Del Piero wrote. "My adventure with Sydney FC is about to be concluded, and, even if it makes me rather sad, because I have had a wonderful time here.
"I'm really grateful for the last two years and for the club’s request for me to remain and with whom, I am happy to explore new opportunities to continue our relationship.
"It hasn't been an easy choice, also because my life on and off the pitch has been fantastic, my family and I have really enjoyed these two wonderful years: Australia will remain in our hearts forever.
"The moment has arrived to make some changes. Now I just need some time to think over all the prospective opportunities for my future."
Del Piero confirmed that he will be an ambassador for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, which will take place in Australia.