Images: Offside Sports Photography
Seven months ahead of clipping in a really quite lovely goal to seal a World Cup semifinal win for his country in the Westfalenstadion, Alessandro Del Piero was doing another nice bit of football for his club. A hat-trick in the Coppa Italia on January 10 2006 made him Juventus’s record goal scorer, a total tally he’d eventually swell to 290.
Here are seven of Del Boy's best for the bianconeri:
Goal v Fiorentina—1994
Imagine the fuss if your man Dele Alli does this, in this day and age, in the Premier League—the long-range wing-back assist, a ball dropping over his shoulder, and there’s no thwack in Alessandro’s mind, no bludgeon. He’s gone for the insouciant little flick with the outside of his boot, a borderline disrespectful afterthought of a finish, and it’s worked just delightfully. Not only that, it’s pretty much ended up top-corner. At this stage, he’s 20. The cheek.
Goal v River Plate—1996
Juventus are a big club, but can any club be truly big unless they’re literal, FIFA-sanctioned "Champions of the World"? Probably, yeah, but it’s still nice to get the title, right? Del Piero sealed Juve’s ascent to the world’s top position by collecting a ball with his back to goal at a corner against River Plate, turning on basically nothing, and immediately slamming it in high and nasty-like. Nice see-the-feeling celebration, too, like he knows this is a big game and all.
Goal v Bari—2001
Days after burying his father, with Juve struggling to break down Bari, Del Piero shades past a defender and puts the sort of dink past goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet in the new-fangled Messiish, Salahian-style. Except, obviously, he’s doing it in 2001, and it’s from a mad angle, and he lifts it so late you’re not even really sure how the goalie’s not got there. Infuriating for him, ecstasy for Del Boy.
Goal v Piacenza—2003
Maybe suffering an acid flashback to his volley against Fiorentina, Del Piero decides to remix his own brilliance with a bit of added jump and an actual back-heel instead of outside-boot spin. The cross is more conventional this time, the chance more straightforward, but the finish is baffling, the sort of goal that a more PR-focussed modern player might have adapted into a ridiculous celebration next time he scored. Not our Alessandro, though.
Goal v Roma—2008
If you’re feeling miserable, you might be focussing on the final placement of the ball relative to net and goalie on this one, very much the wrong approach. Instead, zone in on the sheer bloody range of the thing - he’s really, really far out with this one, and the pace on that ball is unsettling. Look at the dip on it.
Goal v Real Madrid—2008
Champions League group stages ties can be fairly saucy in the right circumstances, and when Real and Juve play each other, the competition’s doing well for itself. Del Piero notched the singular honour of a standing ovation at the Bernabéu, but it’s his lovely early shot against Casillas in Italy that we like – it’s never a lob, except, morally, it sort of is. He’s far out, most strikers would feel silly shooting from there, but he’s done it, and Iker is frankly befuddled.
Goal v Roma—2012
Bit of anger in this one, looks like, and that can be good too, even for a nice man like Alessandro. Conte, his very own former team-mate, has been benching your guy all bloody season, and when he finally gets a chance, he’s only played a through ball right at the defender. It’s too much to take, so he’ll bury the ricochet with a shot of almost scary power and swazz.
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