Alessandro Del Piero joins ESPN as soccer analyst

NEW YORK (AP) — Living in Los Angeles, Alessandro Del Piero found a good fit working for ESPN.

The former Italy and Juventus star who retired after the 2014 season will debut on ESPNFC this Saturday during postgame coverage of the Serie A match between Juventus and Lazio.

“It’s been a while that we chatted with each other,” he said Thursday from Rome. “Now the time has come.”

Del Piero also will continue as an analyst with with Sky Sports Italia. He’ll work for ESPN from Italy and later from Los Angeles, where he works for the Juventus Academy Los Angeles. When the coronavirus pandemic eases, he’ll also broadcast from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut.

“There’s a lot of stories behind what happens on Sunday,” he said. “What is the status of the power in the club. What happens with the coaching situation. You can understand what happens much more, much deeper.”

Del Piero learned from some of the top coaches, a group that includes Marcello Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti, Fabio Capello, Didier Deshamps, Claudio Ranieri and Antonio Conte.

“All of these guys have really strong personalities,” Del Piero said. “You are not in that position if you are not a strong personality. You’re going to win nothing if you don’t have a big personality. All of them, they try to definitely protect the team from what happens outside: from the other teams, from the dangerous things that happen outside the club. When you are a player, you don’t understand some of the things that are going on with the coaches.”

De Piero is starting to understand more of the coach’s mindset since he has been working as an analyst and has been studying to obtain a coaching license in Italy, which he estimates he will need another year to compete it.

He could someday follow former teammate Andrea Pirlo, now Juventus’ coach, into management.

“It’s something that in the future could be another good option,” Del Piero said. “Now, it’s very interesting seeing football from not a journalist’s perspective, but from an athlete’s, and to explain what’s going on from my point of view to people that love the sport.”

He now appreciates that a coach’s job is more difficult than he thought as a player.

“It’s hard, not that I know more,” he said. “It’s hard to be a coach — but not that hard. It’s very complex work.”

The 46-year-old Del Piero scored 27 goals in 91 appearances for the Azzurri from 1995-2008, helping Italy in the 2006 World Cup title. At the club level played for Padova (1991-93), Juventus (1993-12), Sydney (2012-14) and Delhi Dynamos (2014).

He becomes part an ESPN soccer analyst group that includes Jürgen Klinsmann, Frank Lebeouf, Kasey Keller and Taylor Twellman. Craig Burley, Steve Cherundolo, Jan Åge Fjørtoft, Herculez Gomez, Neil Shaka Hislop, Don Hutchison, Alejandro Moreno, Steve Nicol and Stewart Robson.

“Most of the time, you can guess what’s going to happen in the game,” Del Piero said. “What is very fascinating that sometimes it happens maybe completely the opposite, and this is the beauty of sports, that it’s not mathematics, but you have to win against the other team.”

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