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Alessandro Del Piero
Alex Del Piero, or "Pinturicchio", is one of the greatest players to have worn the white-and-black jersey of Juventus, as well as detaining the record of the most goals scored by one player in the turinese team, passing another legendary footballer, Giampiero Boniperti. Ironically, it was Mr. Boniperti who brought a very young Del Piero from Padova to Turin to be a substitute to Roberto Baggio. At the time, Baggio was the team's undisputed captain and Del Piero was supposed to sit on the bench and fill in when needed. History spoke very differently. As Alex started to get better acquainted to the requirements and rythm of Serie A, he demonstrated to be always ready to enter in the middle of a match and stupefy. In a very short period of time, he became an unmovable asset of the offensive line of the team, alongside Vialli and Baggio himself. His elegant, delicate style brought Giovanni Agnelli to nickname him "Pinturicchio": Alex's style was just that beautiful. His way of scoring repeatedly from the far corner of the penalty area made him so famous that part of the pitch became for many the Del Piero Zone.
As games went by, he convinced more and more and Baggio was sacrificed in his favor. Del Piero's goals were phenomenal for quantity and quality: every fan remembers the one against Fiorentina, in an amazing 3-2 comeback, the one scored against Borussia Dortmund in a Champions League game, or the one that brought the Intercontinental Cup back to Turin after decades. A series of masterpieces that created a legend and a true icon not only for Juventus'supporters, but for all soccer fans: well known and remembered is the way Spanish supporters openly applauded Alex at the end of a match in 2008, after an amazing victory in Madrid against Real. His free kicks are legendary and the knightmare of more than one goalkeeper.
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But Del Piero is known to be a very loyal and fair player, very correct and always kin to a sportsmanship that seems to be lacking nowadays. A true gentleman, he never offends adversaries or referees. Although he did have some conflicts with his coaches at times, he never rose his voice or went public with his complaints. He is a captain the way captains used to be, who dedicated his entire life to one team. He is simply adored by his people: he won everything with Juventus, but went to Serie B when the team was declassed because of game fixing, in spite of having received offers to move to other first class teams. Even now that his game is slower, fans cannot see Juventus playing without him.
In the national team, he never quite performed as strongly as he did for Juventus, although he has always been fundamental during Europeans and World Cup qualifiers. Even in 2006, he scored the second goal against Germany in the semi-final, and the 4th penalty of the final's penalty shoot out against France.
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Alex Del Piero is certainly one of the highest paid players in the world, but he invests his money very wisely, proving to be a careful and disciplined businessman. Married with three kids, he has a very normal and respectful private life. He claims that he wants to keep on playing until his strength allows him to, and we hope he can continue doing so, as the moment of his retirement will be a dark day for soccer.