Alessandro Del Piero skypes Israel Folau
November 6, 2013
Israel Folau was among the Wallabies' best - again - at Twickenham © Getty Images
Israel Folau is already a sporting superstar but he's set to lift his reputation to another level by following the humble lead of Alessandro Del Piero.
Folau marvels at the Italian football legend's modesty and down-to-earth, friendly nature that has won him fans worldwide, and the pair have become friends in Sydney. Hence Folau was delighted to be "welcomed" to the Juventus great's home town of Turin, where the Wallabies play Italy this weekend, the Wallabies star invited with team-mates Ben Mowen, Benn Robinson and Bernard Foley to Del Piero's personal art gallery; the soccer legend spoke to the Wallabies via Skype, and his brother Stefano presented them each with a Sydney FC jersey.
Del Piero's gallery and exhibition centre, ADPLOG, also highlights integrity in sport and promotes his Save The Dream campaign, and Folau said the Italian was a perfect role model for any athlete - and one he wanted to emulate.
"He's had a clean image throughout his whole career, and the key thing is he is a humble person and very down to earth," Folau said. "He's attracted people through that. It's very inspiring to other athletes like myself; it's something you want to aspire to and want to be. You can just feel it through the way he speaks. He has very high standards and morals, and that's something you can learn off him."
Folau, meanwhile, said he was still pinching himself about the chance to play in London, Turin, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cardiff on his first trip to Europe, saying he would always be grateful for the opportunities sport had provided him.
"Coming from Logan, which is a tough area for myself and family, trying to stay humble is a key thing," he said. "It helps me out with my football because when things get tough or hard like they are at the moment it helps. I appreciate it and it makes things easier."
Australia hope to get their five-match European tour back on track against Italy at the 29,000-seat Stadio Olympico that hosted the 2006 Winter Games, but Del Piero told the Wallabies they would not find a welcoming atmosphere. "It's a cold city, but for sure you will find at the stadium a very warm crowd for your game," Del Piero said.
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