Italy legend Del Piero plays last game for Australian club Sydney
Former Italy striker Alessandro Del Piero has decided not to renew his contract with Sydney FC and has played his last game for the A-League club.
The 39-year-old’s two-year deal expired earlier this month, when Sydney went down 2-1 to Melbourne Victory in the A-League elimination play-offs.
Del Piero met with club representatives on Monday and then issued a statement which began: "Australia, the moment has arrived to say ‘arrivederci’."
He continued: "My adventure with Sydney FC is about to be concluded, and, even if it makes me rather sad, because I have had wonderful time here, I have communicated my decision to the club.
"I’m really grateful for the last two years and for the club’s request for me to remain and with whom, I am happy to explore new opportunities to continue our relationship."
Sydney chairman Scott Barlow was sad to learn of Del Piero’s decision not to stay on, but said talks will be taking place over ways to continue the former Juventus man’s link with the Australian club.
"Today is bittersweet," Barlow said in a statement. "While we would have liked to see Alessandro remain at Sydney, his decision now allows us to further our discussions about some exciting new opportunities for our ongoing relationship and to build on the legacy that has been started.
"On behalf of everyone at Sydney FC, I would like to say thank you to Alessandro for the enormous contribution he has made to our club over the last two years.
"It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have him at our club and we look forward to seeing him in the near future when he is next back in Sydney."
The 2006 World Cup winner said he and his family had had "two wonderful years" in Australia and would now take some time to consider their next move.
"The moment has arrived to make some changes," he said. "I am well aware that I have given a lot and received even more. Now I just need some time to think over all the prospective opportunities for my future."
Barlow hailed the contribution made by Del Piero since his arrival Down Under in 2012 – he scored 24 goals in the two seasons, and brought a new level of interest to the A-League.
"Two years ago, Sydney FC signed one of the greatest players to have ever worn a football shirt, Alessandro Del Piero," he said.
"At the time, if you had said Del Piero would be playing in Australia, few people would have believed it possible.
"His signing was the biggest in Australian football history and it lifted Sydney FC and the A-League onto the world stage.
"Together we have achieved a lot and Sydney FC has grown in every way, with record crowds and memberships and huge interest in our club both domestically and internationally."