Interview with Alessandro Del Piero: "I wasn't surprised when Juventus beat Real Madrid"
For many, Juventus’ win over Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final between was a surprise, but not for Bianconeri legend Alessandro Del Piero. The Italian legend had faith in his team and now believes that they have good chances of qualifying for the final and face Barcelona in Berlin.
He recalls memories from big times in games against Real Madrid when he was at Juve and talks about the players that are now in the Bianconeri. After playing in India for Indian Super League franchise Delhi Dynamos, the 40-year-old striker is currently living in the United States of America and spoke to Sportskeeda.
Did you expect Juventus to beat Real Madrid in the first leg of this year's Champions League semi-final or were you surprised by the result?
Juventus were not the favourites, but the result didn't surprise me that much. The team has shown to face Real openly, and honestly I expected it because the team has acquired personality and courage. Also, at the stadium the support maybe was decisive.
What do you think of Juventus's chances of qualifying for the final?
The percentage is 50% Juve, 50% Real; which remains the team to be beaten. But certainly the result of the first leg and the fact that they need two results out of three in the second leg means that the Bianconeri are in a good position (a win or a draw will take Juventus to the final).
You personally have a great history of playing with Juventus against Real Madrid; you have scored many times against them. Which of those goals do you consider the most memorable?
I was lucky enough to live great emotions against Real Madrid, memorable victories, marked by equally important goals. Probably the most beautiful is the one I scored at home, at Delle Alpi, in the second leg of the semifinals of 2003. But certainly I cannot forget the double at Bernabeu, with the extraordinary standing ovation, with which the audience of Madrid honored me. It is like you win a trophy.
Overall, which do you think is the best goal of your career so far? Is it the one against Borussia Dortmund in 1997, or would you choose one that gave your team a title?
It is hard to pick one, though certainly prefer to remember the goal that served to win matches and trophies, combining beauty and importance.
Which player from the Juventus team after your era would you say reminds you most of yourself?
I do not like making comparisons, each has his own characteristics, his personality, his history. I like to think that in a lot of teammates that I left three seasons ago, there's a bit of what I was in the field and what I represented for Juventus.
After Juventus, you played in Australia and in India. Did you take those steps to learn more about other cultures, or because you wanted to play football outside Europe?
Travelling has allowed me to grow, improve, and open my mind. I did not want to relive experiences already lived with Juventus. In football I had already had it all, I could not ask for better things to come. I wanted to change, especially on and off the field. I did it, and it will also be useful for my future.
Last year you played in the Indian Super League and even scored. What have you taken away from your experience playing in India?
The potential of the Indian Super League is excellent, and the first season proved that. I'm happy to have contributed to the success of the debut of the tournament, and wish the best future for (the) Indian football movement. I was welcomed very well and it was a great experience.
What are your goals for next year?
Right now I'm living in the United States, with my family, to improve our English and especially to study and prepare for the various opportunities that the future holds for me, in a country that has much to teach the world of sports and communication. I travel a lot for my commitments, in Italy and in other countries. And I am still getting offers to play. I'm training, you never know.
Will you ever return to undertaking a role in Juventus?
Juventus is part of my history and that cannot change. Now I'm doing other things and I do not think about a possible return.
You are the most capped and the player with the most goals in Juventus' history. How long do you think it will be before your records are broken?
I cannot really say. For sure, the records are made to be broken. But I think it will take some time until that happens.
Carlos Tevez has been in superb form this season. Do you think he has been a worthy successor to the #10 shirt?
Tevez is a great player, a leader for the team. He is doing very well and, as I always said, deserves to wear that shirt. All those who dream and want the best for Juventus deserve the shirt.
Buffon took over from you as captain and has been very successful. What is he like as a teammate and would you say he is the greatest Italian goalkeeper ever?
He has proven he is the best. And for me he is also a friend and a companion with whom I shared crazy moments, from the World Cup, the Series A and B, until the last championship we won together in 2012.
Juventus have been utterly dominant in Italy over the last 4 years and have been fairly competent in Europe, but the other Italian sides have faltered. Do you think that this represents a crisis for Italian football?
The football movement of a nation is not judged only by the results of the clubs in a single season. Last year Italian football seemed doomed, now it has three semi-finalists in the Champions League and Europa League. The balance, as always, lies somewhere in between. There is still much to do, even if it is all successful, as shown by the results of this season.
The Italian national side have struggled recently to find strikers that click with the make-up of the team. Who do you think should be first choice for the Italian national team?
I've got a name: Del Piero! I am joking. I think that Conte will find the best solution ahead of Euro 2016 and will focus much on the team rather than the individual stars. I am convinced that they will do well.