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Del Piero spurs on past pains

Rome: Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero says a series of personal blows has been a spur to his best-ever start to a season which has seen him score 10 times in seven matches for his club.

The player’s father Gino Del Piero died in February 2001, just as his son was returning from a serious knee injury picked up during a match against Udinese at the end of 1998.

“I believe I’ve grown up, living through experiences that have opened my eyes,” Del Piero told sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday.

“Undoubtedly, the death of my father had an effect on me at the time and continues to do so. But it also gave me back completely to football.”

Many in the Italian media doubted Del Piero would ever regain the edge that helped deliver the European Cup to Juventus in 1996, but at this summer’s World Cup the Italian showed the first glimmers of a return to form.

He was one of the few azzurri to leave the competition with his reputation intact, having come off the bench against Mexico to score the goal that guaranteed Italy’s qualification to the knock-out stages.

After that goal, he looked upwards and pointed to the sky, a gesture, he explained later, dedicating the goal to his father. Italy’s subsequent defeat at the hands of South Korea left him with a hunger and a sense of an opportunity lost.

He said: “It left me with a lot of anger inside. The fact that on a personal level I came out of it fairly well and that I scored a magnificent goal at the end changes things very little.”

Since returning, Del Piero has had an electrifying start to the season, underlined most recently by two goals in this week’s Champions League match against Newcastle. He warned, however, that he was still not at his best. (Reuters)

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