Alessandro Del Piero ranks fourth among Italy’s top scorers in football, and last year took up a $4 million contract to join Sydney FC, making him the highest-profile player to join the A-League. The 38-year-old and I caught up last weekend at the formula one Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne to talk about his move to Australia, how he spends his downtime in Sydney and how the cooking by his wife Sonia Amoruso makes home the best restaurant in town.
Do you enjoy living in Australia?
Yes, I’m really enjoying it and really like spending time in Sydney and around Australia. I don’t get to travel and see the sights too much because we play every week, every Sunday, but Sydney is a wonderful city and I’ve enjoyed visiting Melbourne also. I love to spend time in new places and to get to know more about Australia, so I’ve been lucky enough to play in Perth and Brisbane as well.
What is the biggest difference between playing in Australia compared with Italy?
Everything is completely different. After 19 years in the same place, now everything has changed, from a new country, a new city, different weather, jet lag, different teammates … Absolutely everything is different, but it’s a new challenge and I’m really enjoying it.
Do you feel as though Australia has welcomed you with open arms?
Yes, it’s been amazing. From the very first day everyone has shown so much love for me. The first game, we sold out the whole stadium and that had never happened before. Everything has been so good and everyone has had such a big heart for me.
What do you do for fun when you’re not playing football?
I just spend time with my family because I have three children under the age of six, so that is why we like to spend a lot time with them. It’s great because Sydney has so much to offer – there are a lots of parks, beaches, the zoo – that are all great places where you can go with the family.
Do you have a favourite restaurant in Sydney?
No, I don’t really go back to the same restaurant. I love to try different places and change restaurants every week. But most of the time I eat at home because my wife cooks everything. The best restaurant is at home!
How does Sydney’s Italian food compare with Italy’s?
We have found many good places that make excellent pasta and Italian food. There is a lot of great Italian products in Australia and it is very good quality. It is just like what we get at home.
What are you up to at the moment?
The end of the season is coming up and everyone is excited. We have the last games before the playoffs and at the moment that is the most important thing for me. That is all I am thinking about.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
I’m proud of all parts of my career but I have also made plenty of mistakes. But I think when you make a mistake or lose a game, from every experience whether good or bad, you can learn something. But for sure it’s better when you win!
What is the best part about your job?
The best part is that it is my passion and it is what I love to do, so that is why everything about my job is good.
What is the worst part?
The worst is that there is not too much. I put 100 per cent of my heart and passion into it, so that is why maybe if I lose a game, or I don’t play well, I get angry at myself. But it’s all part of your work.
Do you think your children will follow in your footsteps?
I really don’t know. I don’t want to push them to play soccer; their destiny might be different to mine. As they grow older, they may or may not be interested, but they have to choose what they want.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I really don’t know. Maybe I will still be here, I don’t know. Or maybe I’ll spend some time travelling. But either way I will come back here again because I am having such a great time here.
WE WENT TO The Red Bull marquee at the Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne.
WE ATE A selection of canapes, including seared scallops, gourmet pies and mini burritos.
WE DRANK Red Bull cocktails and sparkling mineral water.
ALESSANDRO WORE Louis Vuitton top, Prada pants and Converse All Stars sneakers.