Alessandro Del Piero, the Juventus captain, says he appreciates Barclays Premier League football and that Manchester United hold a special place in his heart.

The Italian World Cup winner has had many great battles with United in the Champions League, most famously in 1999 semi-final that Sir Alex Ferguson's side emerged victorious on their way to the final.

Even with the 37-year-old's plethora of experience, he still recalls those matches against the English champions.

"I learned to appreciate [English football] early in my career because of matches against Premier League clubs and above all Manchester United," Del Piero said.

"I love the way the English enjoy football with passion and sportsmanship.

"I also love the atmosphere, the spirit, stadiums like Old Trafford and the attitude of the fans: what is more beautiful than to see the fans of both teams head to the stadium without any problems?"

Del Piero will leave Juventus after 19 years at the club next summer, after the Old Lady revealed his contract would not be extended.

Talk has already begun over where Del Piero's next move lies, and whether he can still cut it at the top level.

Juventus' all-time leading goalscorer has already said he will continue playing after his days at the Juventus Stadium are up, and his latest comments surrounding United are sure to create a stir throughout Europe.

His admiration of the Barclays Premier League will also alert Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, two players linked with his services of late.

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