Juventus idol Alessandro Del Piero has spoken to AS on the eve of his former club’s Champions League exam at Real Madrid.
The Sydney forward faced the Spanish giants at numerous stages of his 19-year stay in Turin with the Old Lady of Italian football.
“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,” he noted.
“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 Ronaldo.”
The No 10 will also never forget one particular evening at the Bernabeu.
“In my career I have received great demonstrations of affection, in Europe and in Italy,” he continued.
“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 brace 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.”
Real will start the tie as favourites, but the 2006 World Cup winner admires what the Turin outfit have done in recent years.
“They have not only found the path to victory, as demonstrated by winning the last two Scudetti, 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 also knows Real Coach Carlo Ancelotti well, seeing as he bossed him for two full seasons at Juve.
“Ancelotti was decisive in my career at a difficult time for me. I did not win anything with him, but he deserved it. Above the tactician 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.
“Carlo is definitely 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.”