Alessandro Del Piero has looked ahead to Real Madrid-Juventus and reflected on his affinity with the Santiago Bernabeu, Iker Casillas and Carlo Ancelotti.
The Italian veteran has been involved in a number of recent previous meetings between the two clubs and, ahead of their Champions League Group B fixture tonight, reflected on his past experiences.
“I have recorded the first time I went to the Bernabeu with Juve in 1996, after seeing that mythical stadium so many times on the TV,” Del Piero considered in an interview with AS.
“I was staring in admiration at the company I was keeping with Hierro, Roberto Carlos, and how can I forget Raul? I admire him so very much, I think his career has paralleled mine.
“But as a player, above all, I remember the semi-finals of 2003, because we faced a team with the likes of Ronaldo and Zizou, when he was phenomenal, and we got through.
“Today there is another great Madrid with Cristiano.”
Del Piero memorably received a standing ovation from the Santiago Bernabeu in November 2008 for his two goals that proved the difference in a 2-0 win for the Bianconeri.
“In my career I have received great demonstrations of affection, in Europe and in Italy. But above all I remember two moments – the homage of my fans in my last game in Turin and the applause at the Bernabeu after my double in 2008.
“For me it is like a trophy at an individual level. Receiving a standing ovation at the temple of football is priceless.
“It was incredible sportsmanship from the fans, their ability to applaud an opponent even when their team was losing.
“Still today I think of this moment and I am grateful for this interview to reiterate my thanks.”
The 38-year-old, who is playing out his career in the Australian A-League with Sydney FC, reflected on his former side’s chances this evening.
“They have not only found the path to victory, as demonstrated by winning the last two Leagues, but they have a great squad.
“In Europe it is different, but Madrid will face a mature team, with all the determination possible and with the need to get the points in these two upcoming games against them in order to try and progress to the next stage.”
Del Piero was also asked for his take on Iker Casillas’ situation at Madrid, as well as the Spaniards’ decision to sell Mesut Ozil in the summer.
“It feels strange seeing a captain like him on the bench. But I am sure that Iker will return to being great. He is an extraordinary ‘keeper. It was an honour having faced him and to have scored those goals…
“He was very hard to face up to. He is explosive, with courage, physical strength, athletic presence. He has won everything. Nobody wins as much by chance, and even less so for such a long time.
“Ozil’s sale? At first I was surprised. But I think that to meet an expense as important as Bale, they had to make some sacrifices.
“In any case, Ozil is someone that I admire. He is a great player in a position that is always complicated to understand.”
Los Merengues have endured an unsteady start to life under Carlo Ancelotti, but Del Piero has faith.
“He was decisive in my career at a difficult time for me. I did not win anything with him, but he deserved it. Above the technician is the person, and I appreciate that so much.
“His work with Madrid? You cannot change everything in the first day. He works day by day, game by game, transmitting to the team his values, his way of seeing football.
“And in the end the results will come, I am convinced. Definitely, Carlo is in the group of Coaches to have influenced me the most, along with Marcello Lippi, with whom we experienced the extraordinary adventure of the 2006 World Cup.”