Things to Know:
Due to his creative style of play, eye for goal, flair, and technical skill, Del Piero was known as a “fantasista” in Italy. His hard-working playing style was regarded by critics as creative in attacking, assisting many goals as well as scoring himself, as opposed to just “goal poaching”. Because of his technical characteristics, Del Piero usually played as a supporting-striker, which was his preferred role, although he was a tactically versatile forward, with good movement, who was capable of playing anywhere along the front line. He was also occasionally deployed between the midfield and the strikers as a playmaking attacking midfielder, known in Italy as the trequartista position, due to his vision, passing range, ball control, dribbling ability (in particular in one on one situations) and creativity, although he often stated that this was not his preferred position. Del Piero was also employed occasionally as a winger throughout his career, in particular during his time under Sacchi with the Italy national football team, due to his tendency to drift onto the wings, defensive work-rate, and his crossing accuracy, as well as his ability with both feet. In his youth, Del Piero played in the “trident-attack” of Lippi’s 4–3–3 formation, along with veterans Vialli, Baggio, and Ravanelli, as a striker, or more frequently as an outside forward. With the arrival of Zidane in the advanced midfield playmaking role, Juventus’s formation changed, and Del Piero partnered alongside a more offensive striker up front, such as Christian Vieri and subsequently Inzaghi, as a supporting forward. After losing some pace and agility following his injury in 1998, Del Piero performed a muscle strengthening regime, and he took on a more creative role in a combination with Zidane behind the main striker Inzaghi under Ancelotti; although he was accused by some in the media of not living up to his potential following his injury, due to his decrease in goalscoring, he successfully adapted to his new creative attacking role as an assist provider. As Juventus’s playing style continued to change during Lippi’s second stint with Juventus starting in 2001, Del Piero partnered with Zidane’s replacement, Nedvěd, in a free creative role in front of the midfield, or occasionally on the left flank, as a supporting striker, with Trezeguet upfront; he subsequently continued to play a similar role under Capello and later managers, although he became increasingly deployed as a substitute due to his advancing age. Del Piero was a free kick and penalty kick (62 goals from penalties) specialist. He is the third highest scorer of penalties in Serie A history, scoring 50 times out of 61 attempts, behind only Francesco Totti and Roberto Baggio. Del Piero’s unique free kick technique was usually characterised by a curling strike which rose high over the wall, and then suddenly dropped into the top corner of the goal; he attributes his ability on set pieces to the time spent studying Roberto Baggio in training. Del Piero is currently the Italian all-time top scorer of free kicks in all competitions (52 goals: 46 goals in clubs, 6 goals in Italy national team). He is also the third all-time highest goalscorer of free kicks in Serie A, with 22 goals, behind only Andrea Pirlo and Siniša Mihajlović. In addition to his talent and footballing abilities, Del Piero also drew praise throughout his career for his leadership with Juventus, and for his fair play and correct behaviour on the pitch.