2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

9 June - 9 July

2006 FIFA World Cup™

Del Piero looks back to move forward

Alessandro Del Piero's return to Dortmund for Italy's FIFA World Cup semi-final with Germany will reawaken memories of a previous, successful visit to the stadium.

The 31-year-old has played in many of the world's most famous arenas and won a host of medals over the course of a glittering career. Even so, appearing in a FIFA World Cup™ Final would be the pinnacle of the gifted forward's career.

He said: "I've played in lots of important games in my career, but Tuesday's is something else, a unique occasion. A World Cup semi-final is enough to excite and motivate anyone. I don't know yet if I'm playing, but I hope to see some action at some stage."

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If the Juventus star does figure he will hope to replicate the succes he enjoyed in the Westfalenstadion on 13 September 1995 when he scored and contributed two assists in a 3-1 win for Juve in the group stage of the UEFA Champisons League. "The match against Borussia Dortmund was one of my first in the Champions League," he recalled.

With current Italy coach Marcello Lippi in charge, the Turin club progressed to the Champions League final where they beat Ajax on penalties in Rome's Olympic Stadium after the sides were locked at 1-1 after extra time.

Del Piero believes the host nation start as favourites for the semi-final but said: "If we play as we know we can then we'll give a good account of ourselves. It's too early to say whether this World Cup has been a success or not for me personally. Let's wait until it's all over."

Meanwhile Lippi discounted conjecture that the circumstances surrounding the suspension of midfielder Torsten Frings will serve as added motivation for Germany.

After reiterating that the Italian Federation had done nothing to cause the player to be suspended, Lippi said: "We don't know what went on exactly and we're not interested. The (Italian Football) Federation has already made a statement and I don't intend to add anything.

"I don't care if the incident serves to motivate the Germans even more. There were going to be 70,000 fans against us before this happened, and there are still going to be 70,000. Nothing has changed."

Lippi also sought to explain his team's improvement during the tournament. "No team can be in top form all the time. As the games have become more important our form has improved and that has brought belief."