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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Alex Del Piero: 500 Appearances for Juventus

This past Saturday, Alessandro Del Piero reached a milestone. In a 4 to 2 win over Bari, "Alex or Pinturicchio" wore the Juventus shirt for the 500th time. He has been a player both loved and hated at the National team level; however, for Juventini, Del Piero is a symbol as solid as rock.

Only two players at Juventus have ever played more games: Beppe Furino and Gaetano Scirea. But if all goes well, Del Piero will pass both of them before his contract expires in 2008. His goal against Germany put to rest many ghosts. In international play, there was always a question mark about Alex. Especially at the Euro 2000 final when he famously missed a shot that would have won the game for Italy. Many called for his head then, which may have explained his exuberant and angry celebration after that wonderfully chipped goal that beat Jens Lehmann to send the Azzurri to the World Cup final game.

After the Calciopoli scandal, several big names at Juventus departed to avoid Serie B calcio: Cannavaro, Ibrahimovic, Vieira, and Zambrotta. In a recent interview with The Sun of the UK, Del Piero admitted that he turned down an offer from Manchester United over the summer. "It was a tough decision, as I had always wanted to play in the Premiership... But I think Sir Alex Ferguson understood my reasons." As captain of a sinking ship, Alex remained behind. So did Gigi Buffon, David Trezeguet, and Mauro Camoranesi. But Alex was the first to pledge his allegiance to Juventus. For this, he has become an iconic figure, and perhaps always will be to supporters worldwide of Juventus.

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