• Global appeal ... Sydney FC's Alessandro Del Piero (Getty)
Alessandro Del Piero has been named global ambassador for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.
By
twg

25 Mar 2014 - 12:03 PM  UPDATED 25 Mar 2014 - 12:23 PM

The Sydney FC playmaker and Italy legend will help take Asia’s biggest football event to an even larger audience, raising its profile beyond the borders of the world’s biggest region.

"I am very proud to be associated with the biggest football tournament ever held in Australia, the country that has become my home for the past two years," Del Piero said after his appointment was announced in Sydney on Tuesday.

"Asia is the fastest growing region in world football.

"To be given the responsibility of hosting Asia’s premier championship is a huge honour for Australia.

"To be given the responsibility of serving as global ambassador for that championship is a huge honour for me."

Michael Brown, CEO of the AFC Asian Cup’s Local Organising Committee, said Del Piero’s stature in world football would help make Australia 2015 a truly global event.

"Alessandro is one of the giants of the game," Brown said.

"He has galvanised interest in the A-League over the past two years, and we hope his association with the Asian Cup will do the same for what is the second oldest continental championship in the world.

"Alessandro’s appointment extends the reach of our ambassador program.

"It complements the outstanding work of our Captain Ambassador Lucas Neill at national and Asian level.

"And of course, we have more than 200 community ambassadors around Australia who will help make this tournament a multicultural festival celebrating Asia’s rich football heritage."

Del Piero was a fixture with Juventus for 19 years before coming to Sydney, serving 11 of them as captain and winning six Serie A championships, a UEFA Champions League title and Intercontinental Cup amongst many other trophies and awards.

He is the Italian league’s second top scorer of all time, and equal fourth top scorer for the Italian national team, helping the Azzurri to the FIFA World Cup in 2006. He has scored more than 340 goals in his career.

His appointment as an ambassador comes on the eve of the final draw for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, which will take place in a glittering ceremony at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday night.

The AFC Asian Cup is Asia’s biggest football competition and was established in 1956.

The 15 nations to qualify are Australia as host, defending champion Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

The final spot will go to the winner of the AFC Challenge Cup, played in May.

The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day festival of football in five cities. Australia open the tournament on 9 January, 2015, in Melbourne, with the final set for Sydney’s Stadium Australia on 31 January 31.