Alessandro Del Piero

Why Do People Hate Alessandro Del Piero?

Alessandro Del Piero is one of the most iconic and celebrated footballers in Italian football history. Nicknamed “Pinturicchio” after the Italian Renaissance painter, Del Piero spent the majority of his illustrious 20-year career with Juventus, making 705 appearances and scoring 290 goals.

He won numerous trophies with the Bianconeri, including 6 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia, 4 Supercoppa Italiana, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 1 Intercontinental Cup.

However, despite his legendary status, Del Piero has also been a divisive figure among football fans, especially towards the latter stages of his career. A section of fans and critics have expressed their disapproval and criticism of the 2006 World Cup winner over the years.

Here are some of the main reasons why certain groups of people are opposed to Del Piero and have grown to dislike him:

Perceived as Arrogant and Cocky

One of the most common grievances against Del Piero has been his perceived arrogant and cocky attitude, especially earlier in his career. Critics accused him of being too flash, showboating on the pitch, having an excessive celebrations and being too expressive.

This rubs some fans the wrong way, who prefer the strong silent types or more humble personalities. Del Piero’s confident demeanor and swagger was seen as a sign of arrogance and overconfidence. His reputation suffered as a result, particularly with opposition fans.

Incidents That Fueled This Perception

  • Early in his career, Del Piero wore a t-shirt under his jersey that read “10 is me”, emphasizing his self-belief. This annoyed detractors.
  • After Italy won the 2006 World Cup, he stated that the team’s success was “due to me” as he scored vital goals. This boastful claim was poorly received.
  • Del Piero has frequently celebrated goals by running to the sidelines and holding up his shirt number to the crowd – interpreted by critics as a cocky gesture.

Association With Juventus’ Controversies and Scandals

As the face and symbol of Juventus for two decades, Del Piero was closely associated with several major controversies and scandals that damaged the club’s reputation. This also reflected badly on him by extension.

Calciopoli Match-Fixing Scandal

  • The 2006 Calciopoli scandal exposed Juventus’ involvement in influencing referee appointments to gain favorable decisions. As club captain, Del Piero became partly tainted.
  • Although he was never directly implicated, the club was stripped of their 2005 & 2006 Serie A titles and relegated. The scandal left a bitter aftertaste for many football fans.

Other Issues Under the Agnelli Family Management

  • Allegations of doping and links to pharmaceutical companies also surfaced under the Agnelli family’s management, again causing collateral damage to Del Piero’s reputation.
  • There were also accusations of unsportsmanlike conduct, alleged favors from referees and other unsavory practices during this period.

Perceived Favoritism at Juventus

Some believe that Del Piero benefitted from favoritism within Juventus. Allegations include:

  • Being undroppable and immune from being substituted due to his status at the club.

-Higher salary and more influence behind the scenes compared to teammates.

  • Monopolizing set pieces and penalties over other designated takers.
  • Receiving credit and plaudits disproportionate to his contributions.

This notion of preferential treatment bred resentment among the Juventus fanbase and Italian football community at large.

Decline in Later Years

Del Piero’s deterioration in form and performances during the latter part of his career also contributed to the criticism against him.

  • His physical abilities declined but he remained a guaranteed starter at Juventus due to his reputation.
  • His goal output and offensive productivity dropped markedly. Became less mobile and influential in matches.
  • The emergence of new stars like Pavel Nedved, David Trezeguet and others left Del Piero looking like a faded force relying more on reputation.
  • Moving to Sydney FC aged 37 in the Australian league cemented the belief he was now just cashing paychecks.

Perceived Lack of Success with Italy NT

While a key player for the Italian national team for over a decade, Del Piero has been accused by some of not achieving enough success or living up to expectations on the international stage:

  • Only won one tournament – the 2006 World Cup. Yet he failed to consistently replicate his club form for Italy.
  • Went scoreless at four major tournaments – 1996 Euros, 2004 Euros, 2002 World Cup and 2010 World Cup.
  • Blamed for Italy’s group stage elimination at the 2004 Euros when he missed a penalty against Sweden.
  • Often scapegoated for Italy’s underachievement and failures, especially in big tournaments.

Rivalry with Totti

Del Piero’s long-running rivalry with AS Roma legend Francesco Totti also contributed to anti-Del Piero sentiments among sections of Italian football fans.

  • Their direct competition for Italy’s number 10 shirt bred immense mutual dislike between Juventus and Roma fans.
  • Totti supporters frequently criticized Del Piero’s big-match temperament and scoring stats compared to their idol.
  • Del Piero matching Totti’s goal record of 250 Serie A goals was disdained by Roma fans who felt Totti was superior.
  • His strained relationship with Totti exacerbated criticism from rival fans.

Perceived Holier-than-Thou Attitude

Some people find Del Piero’s frequent talk of values like humility, morals, loyalty and spirituality as signs of a holier-than-thou attitude.

  • His spiritual beliefs and habit of pointing skywards after scoring has been mocked as superficial piety and virtue signaling by cynics.
  • Similarly, his charity work and donations to various causes are sometimes dismissed as publicity stunts and image management by detractors.
  • Outspoken views on honoring contracts, respecting opponents and other moral stances strike some as hypocritical and self-righteous.

This perception of acting saintly has put off people who feel it comes off as an act rather than genuine behavior.

Is Seen as a “Bottler” in Big Games

Despite his many achievements, some fans and pundits accuse Del Piero of being a bottler and going missing in crunch games:

  • Missed pivotal penalty in Euro quarterfinal shootout vs France in 2008. Italy lost.
  • Anonymous in 2003 Champions League final loss to AC Milan. Missed a good chance to equalize.
  • Scoreless for Italy in the Euro 2000 finals loss to France after scoring 6 goals prior to the final.
  • Dismal individual performance in 1998 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.

These perceived failures in the biggest high-stakes games have painted Del Piero as someone unable to handle real pressure.

Perceived Lack of Charisma and Personality

A common criticism of Del Piero is his apparent lack of charisma, personality and flair compared to other superstars.

  • His shy, understated nature off the pitch is viewed as dull and boring. Lacks the force of personality of icons like Maradona, Ronaldo etc.
  • Rarely makes controversial statements or draws attention to himself like rival Totti or compatriots Balotelli and Cassano.
  • Plays down his fame and celebrity status, refusing to court media attention or give gossipy interviews.
  • Leads a low-key private and family life away from the spotlight. Did not embrace being a celebrity footballer.

For some, his modest, controversy-free persona makes Del Piero less compelling and intriguing than other legends of the game.

Association With Juventus’ 2006 Relegation

After the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal, Juventus were forcibly relegated to Serie B and stripped of their 2004-05 and 2005-06 titles.

Some blame Del Piero for this, as captain and face of the club:

  • As skipper, he should have been aware of or spoken out against any wrongdoing.
  • Failed to quit the club in protest at demotion to Serie B. Remaining was an act to get favor.
  • Helping Juventus instantly return and dominate Serie A again was seen as bad for Italian football.

This connection to Juve’s relegation and perceived special favors granted after their demotion fueled resentment of Del Piero among rival fans.

Perceived Divisiveness Within Fanbase

Another school of thought is that Del Piero caused friction among Juventus supporters and divided loyalties:

  • His undisputed status led to accusations of obsessed “Del Piero fans” vs true “Juve fans”.
  • Success seen as due to individuals like Del Piero rather than team effort.
  • Continued selection despite decline led to charges of picking favorites over form.
  • Some felt he should have left years before retirement to make way for new blood.

This perceived split between fans who idolized Del Piero and more objective supporters also bred some negativity.

Was Del Piero’s Reputation Damaged by Association with Juventus’ Controversies?

Del Piero’s close association with Juventus during a turbulent period for the club definitely impacted his reputation negatively among some fans. As the high-profile captain and face of Juventus, he became partly tainted by scandal and controversy:

  • The Calciopoli match-fixing scandal in 2006 severely damaged Juve’s image. Although Del Piero was never implicated directly, his standing suffered.
  • Doping allegations and claims of unsportsmanlike practices during the Agnelli family era also reflected badly on Del Piero as the club’s longest-serving player.
  • Even though he could not be blamed personally, his prominence at Juventus meant he could not avoid being touched by the institutional failures and shady activities during this time.

However, it is also worth noting Del Piero maintained support and popularity among large sections of Italian football fans despite these issues. His individual brand and playing legacy was strong enough to withstand being tarred with the same brush as Juve’s corporate missteps. Nevertheless, the scandals certainly embittered some football purists against Del Piero and tarnished his reputation in the eyes of critics.

Did Del Piero Underachieve with the Italian National Team?

This is a point of debate among football pundits. The facts show:

  • Del Piero earned 91 caps for Italy, scoring 27 goals from 1995 to 2008.
  • He won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, scoring the winner against Germany in the semis.
  • Runner-up at Euro 2000. Also took part in three other major tournaments from 1996 to 2010.

However, some argue his returns for Italy fell short considering his club form:

  • Won just one international trophy compared to his many club honors.
  • Was often a substitute instead of regular starter for Italy.
  • Drew blanks in four international tournaments – Euro 1996, 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004 and 2010 World Cup.
  • Italian clubs like Juventus dominated European competitions but the national team underachieved.

On balance, while he had a largely distinguished international career, Del Piero arguably failed to consistently replicate his Juventus heroics when playing for Italy. But he still made vital contributions, especially at the 2006 World Cup. The expectations on him were also sky-high. Overall, his Italy record does not indicate a clearly underwhelming career but nor was it exceptionally brilliant.

Did Del Piero Live Up to Expectations as Italy’s Number 10?

Del Piero assumed Italy’s prestigious number 10 shirt after Roberto Baggio. This created massive pressure and sky-high expectations from Italian football fans:

  • His technical skill and talent meant he was seen as a natural successor to Baggio. Big shoes to fill.
  • Italy’s number 10 is expected to be the creative fulcrum and match-winner. Del Piero had the ability but could not always deliver.
  • Managed 27 goals in 91 games for Italy. A decent but not spectacular return compared to Baggio’s 54 goals in 106 appearances.
  • Critics feel he never fully embraced the leadership role of Italy’s number 10. His shy personality held him back.

On the other hand:

  • Won decisive games like the 2006 World Cup semi-final against Germany.
  • Formed fine partnerships with other Italian greats like Totti, Inzaghi and Pirlo.
  • Consistently contributed to Italy’s tournament qualification campaigns.

Overall, Del Piero had big burdens replacing Baggio and expectations to be Italy’s attacking inspiration. He delivered in flashes but not consistently enough to be considered an all-time great Italian number 10. But he was a very good servant for Italy nonetheless.

How Much Did Del Piero Benefit from Favoritism at Juventus?

Accusations of preferential treatment benefiting Del Piero during his Juventus career mainly stem from:

  • His apparent undroppable status. Starting position guaranteed despite dip in form.
  • Allowed more influence in team matters and higher salary than teammates.
  • Monopolizing penalties and free kicks ahead of other designated takers.
  • Protected from substitution or rested due to his standing in the squad.

However, such accusations are hard to conclusively prove. Potential explanations include:

  • His obvious world-class ability and match-winning prowess justified selection. Longevity indicates he earned it.
  • Higher commercial value as global face of Juventus entitled him to higher pay.
  • Tactical importance to the team shape and system necessitated constant playing time.
  • Seniority earned him leverage to take penalties and free kicks.

While he was clearly a favorite son, it’s debatable whether Del Piero’s standing at Juventus amounted to unfair preferential treatment. Most key players at big clubs develop status and influence over time. Del Piero earned his privileges through consistent match-winning contributions rather than having them gifted undeservedly.

Did Del Piero Fail to Live Up to Expectations?

As one of Italy’s greatest ever players, expectations were sky-high for Del Piero to achieve even more:

For Juventus

  • Won 6 Scudetti and other honors but some feel he failed in Champions League. No win between 1996 and 2003 finals.
  • Didn’t always dominate big European games. Just 1 goal in 3 Champions League finals.
  • Never won Ballon D’or. Surpassed by global superstars like Ronaldo despite his consistency.

For Italy

  • Won 2006 World Cup but underwhelmed in other international tournaments.
  • Was expected to be Italy’s savior but went scoreless in multiple Euros and World Cups.
  • Despite Juve’s success, Italy did not achieve international dominance in his era.

Individual Brilliance

  • Never won a major award like Ballon D’or despite his talent. Ranked behind contemporaries like Figo, Zidane, Owen etc.
  • His numbers and trophies stack up well but many feel he failed to fully maximize his talent and potential.

The expectations were so enormous that meeting them was nearly impossible. But Del Piero probably came as close as he could realistically have achieved and had a career most players can only dream of.

Why Does Del Piero Have a Reputation as a “Bottler” in Crunch Games?

Del Piero’s reputation for faltering in crunch games comes down to some high-profile errors and omissions:

  • Euro 2008 – His missed penalty vs Spain in the quarterfinal shootout sent Italy crashing out.
  • 2003 UCL Final – Failed to influence or score as Juve lost to Milan 0-3. Missed great chance to equalize.
  • Euro 2000 – Scoreless in the final after netting 6 goals en route. Italy lost to France in extra time.
  • 1998 UCL Final – Anonymous as Juventus lost 0-1 to Real Madrid.

There are some mitigating factors to explain his perceived struggles:

  • Impossible to perform every single big game for club and country over a 20 year career.
  • He still scored winning goals in many high-pressure games like the 2006 World Cup semi-final.
  • Team failures cannot be blamed solely on him.

Nevertheless, his prominent flops in the most important matches contributed heavily towards this “bottler” tag among some fans and pundits. The reputation stuck partly because of very high expectations on him perform consistently when the stakes were highest.


In conclusion, Alessandro Del Piero is arguably one of the most revered yet simultaneously divisive footballers in Italian football history. His legendary status at Juventus is matched by the skepticism and criticism he has attracted from sections of rival fans and the media.

Much of the disapproval stems from a perception that Del Piero was cocky, arrogant and received favoritism at Juventus due to his stature at the club. His shy off-pitch attitude and spiritual outlook have also been labeled as superficial piety and holier-than-thou virtue signaling by some detractors.

Del Piero’s performances in high-profile matches have also fed a reputation as a bottler who failed to replicate domestic form for Italy at international tournaments. Meanwhile, his deep association with Juventus’ scandal-ridden period left his image partly tainted among football purists.

However, Del Piero’s mammoth contributions towards Juventus’ success cannot be denied. With his brilliance, loyalty and longevity, he attained legitimate legendary status at the club through merit. Much of the criticism comes from unrealistic expectations and high standards attached to Del Piero’s image as Italian football royalty.

Overall, the negatively towards Del Piero appears to stem largely from extremely high hopes rather than any glaring underachievement over his distinguished career. While he had his imperfections, Del Piero remains rightly regarded as one of the all-time greats of Italian and world football.

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