Alessandro Del Piero: Hungary has a great team again
World champion and Champions League winner Alessandro Del Piero has arrived in Budapest. Marco Rossi's Hungarian national team impressed him, and he is also amazed at how many news stadiums there are in Hungary.
|Alessandro Del Piero regrets not watching the England-Hungary match (Photo: Attila Török)|
– We did not think we could meet here in Budapest in such an opposite state of mood: while the Hungarian national team won 4-0 in England in the Nations League match the night before, the Italian team conceded five goals in Germany...
– I regret not watching the England-Hungary match because I would have had a more positive experience, said Alessandro Del Piero, who is promoting the CIB Italia Football Camp in Budapest. "Also, because I could have seen there a smiling compatriot, Marco Rossi, your head coach, who is doing a fantastic job, his achievements are known in Italy, too. After the Germany-Italy match, I checked out the England-Hungary highlights, and what I saw only confirmed what I could already ascertain at last year's European Championship: Hungary has a great team again, which causes a lot of problems even for the strongest national teams. I'm back in Budapest after a long time, and I am amazed to see the beautiful new Puskás Aréna, the many new stadiums that seem to grow out of the ground like mushrooms, and although football last night delighted the Hungarians, I am sure that there will be successes in other sports as well with this attitude. In the coming years, Hungary will give a lot to the world's sports.
– You retired eight years ago, but you look very fit. Maybe you could have joined the team against Germany. How do you keep yourself in shape?
– I can't tell you my secret, because then others will copy that and return to the national team from retirement. And that wouldn't be good. I say let this young team develop, which is still in the process of doing so. They have a lot of talented players, and I'm sure they will be successful soon. By the way, there is no secret: I exercise a lot, I eat healthily, and fortunately, I can afford to eat the best quality ingredients from everything. But it is equally crucial to maintain mental health, which should be given the same emphasis as physical factors.
– There is a 19-year-old Hungarian goalkeeper, Zsombor Senkó, in the Juventus squad. Is he in the right place for his development?
– I have no access to the club's internal affairs right now. I can only say that Juventus is a real main stage and if he takes advantage of the opportunity and develops at the right pace, he could not be in a better place.
|Alessandro Del Piero even won the Champions League with Juventus|
– So, you don't have access to Juve's internal affairs, but you don't even plan on having one? When you showed up at the stadium a few weeks ago, the audience immediately became fired up, and rumors began that you would return.
– These rumors are groundless. I live in Los Angeles and work with young people, it was by chance that my students and I went to Turin and attended one of the games. I have a great relationship with the club and the fans. Going back was emotional, but for the time being, I think I can best promote football as an ambassador. It's not unthinkable that I'll be a coach one day, though my plans for the distant future are still very uncertain.
– How do you see the current Juventus which is in a transition phase, and which has been without a trophy this season?
– Juventus have a great past, but its present does not look bad either. Even if last season was not successful, the club is still among the best Italian teams and has a strong squad that can be further strengthened with summer transfers. I think they will play the main role in Serie A next season.
– Obviously, you rooted for Juve, but do you agree that it is good for Italian football that Milan won the league, Internazionale the Italian Cup, and Roma took home a European cup?
– Obviously, it is good for Italian football to have as many clubs as possible to strengthen. The league was also very exciting, with three teams competing for the title almost to the very end. Of course, I was not happy with Milan's success, because my heart is still white and black, but Juventus' victories have also made the league a little boring for many years. Roma's UECL victory is also very important. Italian football needs these international successes because it has not been seen in the last decade and this can give faith to other teams as well.
– Have you ever regretted staying at Juventus after the Calciopoli scandal in 2006? Why has this club loyalty disappeared from football?
– It was a unique summer because our team was excluded from Serie A, but we won the World Cup with the national team. I've always been a loyal type, and I stayed because I was the captain of the team. A lot of players would have left if they were me, I had some good offers, and I was already 32 years old, but this was the decision I made. There were some difficult times afterwards, but I never regretted it. The world has changed a lot today, not only football but also the economic challenges. I don't condemn someone who changes clubs often. I think what's important is that wherever someone is playing, he should give his all.
– Was the 2006 World Cup victory and the goal scored against the Germans in the semifinals a great satisfaction after being sharply criticized by the press when the team lost the 2000 European Championship final against France because of missing opportunities?
– We had a messy affair with France. It's hard to describe in words what it's like to win a World Cup. It's like you're squaring all your senses of achievement. You feel like it's a round whole what you've put on the table.
– Did anyone know what Marco Materazzi is up to against Zinédine Zidane in the World Cup final?
– No one knew and could have foreseen this, neither we nor the French. It was a shocking moment; we didn't suddenly know how to react. I didn't see what happened, we just saw the red card, and since the French didn't complain that they were sending their captain off, we could guess that something extraordinary had happened. We focused on the game with all our nerves because everyone was very tired, we were mentally already preparing for the penalty shootout.
– Tell me: was Roberto Baggio or were you the best Italian striker of the 90s?
– This is a question I will never answer. Roberto had a huge impact on me, I admired him on TV and then it was a great honor to be teammates for two years at Juventus, to win the league together. He had a fantastic technique and had an eye on the pitch. He is one of the greatest players ever.
Alessandro Del Piero arrived in Hungary as chief patron of the CIB Italia Football Camp, which is being held for the fourth time after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. With the support of CIB Bank, its parent bank, the Intesa Sanpaolo Group, and its partner, the Generali a Biztonságért Alapítvány (Generali Foundation for Security), the camp will be available to boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 14 who would not otherwise have the opportunity to gain an insight into the world of international football. The novelty of this year's camp is that mainly students from schools in disadvantaged settlements take part in the training sessions of Italian top trainers. The camp, which runs between June 20 and 24, is free of charge for children, and its three most talented participants will be invited to a camp in Italy where their family members can accompany them. Among other things, the chosen ones can play training matches, visit the football museum, and watch a Serie A team's match. Magyar Diáksportszövetség (Hungarian Student Sports Federation) helps selecting children within the 70-kilometer radius of the capital to participate in the camp.