Del Piero vindicated by victory
By Tom Adams and Nadia Carminati
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Alessandro Del Piero says Italy's success has proved The Azzurri are not 'criminals'.
Alessandro Del Piero says Italy's progression to the World Cup final has proved that The Azzurri are not just 'criminals', as the Serie A match fixing trial continues.
Marcelo Lippi's side beat hosts Germany to reach the final on Sunday night against the backdrop of the country's biggest footballing crisis for a quarter of a century.
With Lazio, Milan, Fiorentina and Juventus all facing possible relegation the integrity of Italian domestic football has been decimated, however at international level the squad have the chance of claiming a fourth World Cup trophy for the country.
Del Piero stars for the club at the heart of the trial, Serie A champions Juventus, and the legendary forward says reaching the final was a crucial step to proving that the Bianconeri stars, including Gianluca Zambrotta, Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro, are footballers not defendants.
"According to the scandal, we are all seen as guilty," said Del Piero, who scored the second goal in the semi-final win over Germany.
"But we have shown that we have great footballers at Juventus and that we are not criminals.
"It was important for Italian football to take this step.
"My team-mates have shown that we can still win through and everything that has happened off the pitch has brought us closer together."
Del Piero's fine extra time strike against Germany secured The Azzurri's place in the final after Fabio Grosso's goal, and the Juve man says the emotions pouring out of him after he scored in Dortmund were more intense than he has ever experienced before.
"After I scored I did an incredible shout," Del Piero revealed.
"I had a really big will to play.
"In my 20-year career it never happened to me to unwind the tension in such a strong way.
"Anyway I've never won a World Cup semi-final.
"In that shout there was everything from a big happiness to rage.
"I'd like my happiness to emerge as a gesture that underlines what I try to do for the team."