Del Piero visit to Wollongong extra special for Alessandro

Alessandro Del Piero is part of the All Stars squad to take on Juventus at ANZ Stadium on August 10. Inset: Alessandro Calmasini meets his hero.

Alessandro Del Piero is part of the All Stars squad to take on Juventus at ANZ Stadium on August 10. Inset: Alessandro Calmasini meets his hero.

FOOTBALL 

She is the grand old lady, the Italian champions and longstanding international superpower.

He is the eight-year-old from North Wollongong named after Juventus, Sydney FC and World Cup-winning royalty Alessandro Del Piero.

Young Alessandro Calmasini was at training in Balgownie on Thursday, trying to emulate his hero, who is expected to arrive in Wollongong for an A-League All Stars camp this weekend.

The five-day All Stars camp starts on Friday, before they tackle Del Piero's former club at ANZ Stadium on August 10.

If anyone reflects what it means to have Juventus in the country - and the All Stars in Wollongong - it's Alessandro.

It's been almost a decade since his father Robert, a corporate accountant, last travelled to Turin to watch the team in action at their old headquarters - the Stadio Delle Alpi - when he also met the players, thanks to his wife's uncle's long-time connection to the club.

Now they're coming to him.

"Del Piero is a legend and not just for his ability on the pitch," he said.

"When Juventus went to the Serie B [relegated to second division after a systematic match-fixing scandal], he was the star player who stayed with the club.

"It meant everything to the fans for him to stay, so now for him to be in Australia - and in Wollongong - it's a fantastic moment."

The Calmasini family will be part of a packed ANZ Stadium when Del Piero leads the All Stars in his Australian farewell against Juventus, affectionately known as "the grand old lady".

In the meantime, Wollongong becomes the meeting point for the All Stars, a five-day school and community blitz, while preparing for the Sydney clash.

In another step in Football South Coast's increasingly convincing argument to sit at Australia's top table again, chief executive Ann-Marie Balliana is ready to showcase the region.

As part of the extravaganza, the South Coast Wolves - a club dreaming of one day returning to the A-League - take on St George in the NSW National Premier League on Sunday, then the Young Socceroos play a friendly fixture against the All Stars at WIN Stadium on Tuesday.

"When the FFA [Football Federation Australia] spoke to us looking at a location for a training camp, they spoke about wanting a place with a history and a love of football to promote the game," Balliana told the Mercury on Thursday.

"We were over the moon when we were chosen to host the All Stars camp.

"It's another way for us to showcase football, not just as a training base, but for community engagement as well.

"It's another great chance to show what we have to offer."

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