Image via Freedigitalphotos.net
That man Dave Taylor was getting all excited at the prospect of a Juventus and Italy legend coming to the UK. In the end, it never happened, but now he casts a mournful eye Down Under.
When three of my all-time favourite Italian footballers; Gianfranco Zola, Paolo Di Canio and Benito Carbone moved to the Premiership in the mid 90s, it was a footballing dream come true for me. I had followed all of them and seen them play for Napoli as each one became an heir to the greatest footballer of them all Diego Maradona.
Like El Pibe they, to an extent, shared some of his skills and artistry and lit up the Premiership with their continental style of football and made it watchable but sadly that was an age ago.
I had watched the great Di Canio play for Celtic and even took in a fabulous Glasgow derby just to see him. Zola I made of point of seeing him whenever he was in the north-east or I was in London. Then Benito Carbone actually came to play for ‘Boro.
Today it is sometimes difficult to get excited about British football and thanks to the bumbling Juventus club President Andrea Agnelli, who felt ADP didn’t cut it any longer, Sergio Aguero might have had competition for Noel Gallagher’s attention
ADP like Kun Aguero and his father-in-law, Diego Maradona, doesn’t just kick the ball but caresses it, cajoles and passes to feet, an achievement not often seen in the EPL
However it’s all in vain. Despite being heavily linked with Arsenal, Spurs, QPR, Southampton, Celtic and lately Liverpool, ADP has moved to Sydney FC. Of course he won’t be the player that habitually wowed the world before but he can still turn on the style when needed. Nowhere was this better seen than when Juve found themselves with a chance of going back on top of Serie A if they could beat Lazio in April. Yet with 83 minutes on the clock and at 1-1 it seemed impossible. Enter the iconic ‘Il Pinturicchio’.
Juve won a free-kick five yards outside the D as Del Piero lined up the ball. With six defenders in the wall, the 73rd minute sub curled a rip-roaring shot past a rooted Federico Marchetti to nestle in the bottom corner. The stadium roof almost lifted off such was the uproar when arguably his most important goal of the season was realised.
ADP on his 700th Juve appearance turned away, tongue hanging out, a smile that launched a million fans splitting his face and ran like a Spring lamb with arms outstretched.
It was his third crucial goal in as many weeks. The 37-year-old scored his first Serie A goal of the season, once more off the bench, when Juventus beat Inter 2-0 to keep their title challenge on track in late March. A few days earlier he scored in the Italian Cup semi-final against Milan in a 2-2 draw that saw Juventus reach the final 4-3 on aggregate.
That evidence is obviously enough to tempt top teams to sign him, at least for a season. He certainly does not have to prove anything. It would be pointless to go over all the honours individually and collectively he has won. Enough said that there are perhaps only two players in Britain who could have come anywhere near matching his collection, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. And at 38 next November like the Manchester United pair he can add guile and poise to any team.
There may not be the non-stop running of old yet, he was never the fastest but what you will get is the ultimate in top class know-how. Imagine the effect and inspiration he would have on the young footballers at his new club and that’s apart from the vast experience he could impart and then perhaps later as a coach. His legs may be gone but as we saw against Inter, Milan, Lazio and his last Serie A game against Atalanta his eye is still very much there. I for one will be first in line to get my ticket to see Sydney FC if I ever I get over to Australia.