Fan of the Week – Elia Santoro

A-League Team

Sydney FC

Other football teams
AC Milan, Barcelona, Liverpool with soft spot for Juventus.

First Football memory

Watching the 1978 WC in particular the final between Argentina v Netherlands with my Dad.  Italy were out finishing 4th. It laid the foundations of me falling ‘in love’ with the mastery, the drama, the cleverness required to win a match, the magic & the sound of the commentary.  It was & still is the beautiful game to me. Nothing compares.

Favourite Football memory

NSL – watching my brother bringing Ned Zelic down with a tackle in a game at Canberra & Coach  Tom Sermanni wanting to strangle him #funny   ALEAGUE – Sydney FC winning First Grand Final on 5 March 2006.  INTERNATIONAL –  Italy winning World Cup 2006

Best/Worst A-League moment

BEST: Watching Del Piero’s first game with Sydney FC against Western Sydney Wanderers. Electric & unmatchable atmosphere.

WORST: None that stand out.


What A-League club do you enjoy beating most ?
Melbourne Victory. State Rivalry in my opinion is still stronger than beating WSW.

If you could recruit one A-League player from another club who would it be ?

Sydney FC already recruited one player I wanted. Bernie Ibini from Central Coast. A player who has the potential with the right guidance to become one of our best players.

If you could make ONE change to the A-League what would It be ?

Longer season. It is vital if we are to compete both physically & mentally with the rest of the world. We lag behind many of the football powerhouses in this respect.

Where would you locate the 11th A-League team and why ?

South Coast – Wollongong.  I think they have the capacity to grow their fan base. Currently they attract 6000-8000 when HAL friendlies are held. The area has a strong football history, with more than 12000 registered youth & senior players & contains some of the oldest clubs in Australia.

How do you rate the recent performance of the Socceroos ?

Under Ange Postecoglou who has rejuvenated the team I believe the signs are good. The teams we played are battle hardened & play two & three times the games per season than we do and it was  great to see that our players both old & young, during their camp and WC campaign were put under pressure to train & perform at their peak. It is what we need if we are going to compete mentally & physically. Experience gained by the youngsters was invaluable & the benefit long term out way the results during the campaign.

Overall there is much to work on as we lacked penetration & often relied on getting ball to Tim Cahill. Our defence needs strengthening but no doubt Ange will work on this for Asian Cup & 2018 campaign.  We are no Spain, (not just yet) but you could see moments that were pleasing compared to qualifiers.  Even though we didn’t get past group stage I’m pleased with direction we are going. Future bodes well.

Who would you choose to play the Socceroos and where would you play the match ?
Italy. In Sydney. (Biaised) Would like to see our current boys get some revenge lol.Where will the Socceroos be ranked in four years time ?
Tough one as dependant on many variables namely winning each game but I would hope up in the mid 20s mark.

Favourite Current player and why ?

I have two –

1. Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus. Buffon, as with all good goalkeepers, just gets better with age, reaching legendary status. A joy to watch him ply his trade.
2. Lionel Messi, Barcelona.  An undisputed legend & clever forward.

Favourite player of all time ?

Roberto Baggio. Undeniably the former World & European footballer of the year with the famous ponytail is one of the greatest talents Italian football has ever presented to the Football World. Incredible ball skills, control, vision, movement and intelligence to make an impact whenever he played running rings around the best defenders.  I remember when in Italia 90 he gave up his penalty duties so his friend, Toto Schillaci could take the Golden Boot – A classy & honourable gentleman both on & off the pitch.

What did the Del Piero signing mean to Football in Australia ?
Where does one start. Del Piero changed football in this Country forever.  For Sydney FC he singlehandedly increased attendances & bolstered memberships. For the league in general he capitulated us onto the world stage and got the world talking & paying attention to our league. The impact was so immense having one of the greatest footballers ever joining our league and not just for a short stint but for 2 seasons. Sponsorship & jersey sales went through the roof. TV ratings increased & to a degree changed broadcast & negotiating parameters of football.  No other sportsman in this country has ever achieved that. People couldn’t get enough of him.
He occupied precious media space especially during NRL & AFL seasons something that has not occurred before. To witness week in week out his skills on the ball, his vision, his amazing free kicks and his class, which was a level above the rest, was a privilege that is priceless, whether you were a fan of his or not. His spectacular 2nd game free kick in front of 35,000 odd crowd, who erupted in an unbelievable fashion was something rarely witnessed for many years in football in OZ. Alessandro captured the imagination of football fans and to a huge extent alot of fans who, for whatever reason, hadn’t wanted to be part of HAL. On and off the pitch he was the ultimate professional & a genuinely nice man.
What legacy will he leave to Sydney and Australia?
The best credentialed player to ever hit our shores, Del Piero’s contribution to Sydney & Australia as a whole is unrivalled and immeasurable. For Sydney FC he leaves numerous new fans of the team both here & internationally. For Australia, he has inspired a whole new generation of fans and young players. To see thousands of young kids from different clubs wearing Del Piero jerseys, who had no real idea of what he had achieved, yet wanting to witness him play & learn was amazing to watch. That to me is his real legacy.  He showed them ‘the power, the love & beauty of football”.  Alessandro also set a new standard for marquee recruits.
He leaves us with the football world stage knowing who we are and opened the doors for more such players like him to come over and not as a last resort but to grow the game like he did.  As I kept on saying re: Asian Cup, and I’m glad the FFA picked up on it, he is a wonderful Ambassador for our league worldwide. I hope FFA continue to utilise him perhaps by getting him involved in producing true No 10s. He is not only Del Piero – the man, the footballer but THE BRAND. Del Piero leaves HAL, Sydney & Australia with a wonderful platform to build on to take it to new & amazing heights.  No other player or Marquee to date has achieved this. He taught us to ‘think big…not small’.

The All Star concept relies on bringing out a big European team, Do you think this is feasible on a yearly basis ?

I believe so if worked out correctly – player selection wise, scheduling & choice of European Team. I’m not a huge fanofAllStar as I prefer to see a ‘team’ play. The difference is that an actual team would add say 10000-15000 more crowd.  Key to making it feasible is Government funding. The international exposure for Australia is huge & therefore we need to build on this relationship with Government & potential sponsors & market it correctly. Granted it isamoney making exercise but it is a great opportunity for fans to see these football powerhouses live & enjoy the quality up close & personal.  For many it is a dream come true to see their heroes.

Your ALL TIME XI (with a catch) You must have seen them play live.
Hard choosing as some of my favs I did not see live but based on the ones I was lucky enough & blessed to have witnessed live – this is it.
Gianluigi BuffonDefenders
Fabio Cannavaro
Paolo Maldini
Ro Ferdinard
Roberto Donadoni
Zinedine Zidane
Andrea Pirlo

Alessandro Del Piero
Roberto Baggio

Bench (lol – imagine this bench)
Tim Cahill
Ned Zelic
Paul Okon
Francisco Totti
Mark Schwarzer


About David Hards (496 Articles)
The Founder of FTSAUS. A foundation Melbourne City man who is more than willing to voice his opinion, no matter how wrong it could be. An average goalkeeper or makeshift right back who had more bad days than good on the pitch, but still loved every minute of it. Follow on Twitter: @Hardsy05
Contact: Twitter