Teen sensation thrilled at chance to play with idol

TERRY Antonis was not even born when Alessandro Del Piero made his debut for Juventus in 1993.

So for the 18-year-old Sydney FC midfielder to be playing alongside the Italian World Cup superstar is like something out of a dream.

Antonis was born in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown and grew up being inspired by the likes of Del Piero.

The talented teenager has had to pinch himself a few times since Sydney captured the Italian international's signature to be sure he is actually training and playing with one of his heroes.

"It's a bit freaky," Antonis said, when asked what it was like to play alongside Del Piero.

"He's a legend in the game and I grew up watching him play. He played in the World Cup final where (French star Zinedine) Zidane did that headbutt, so to be playing alongside him is a dream come true.

"He's been playing for as long as I have been alive and has played with some of the greatest players ever. It's a great feeling being on the same pitch as him. I'm just like a sponge ... learning everything I can from him."

But it is just not on the pitch where Antonis said he could learn from Del Piero. The youngster said the Italian was a class act off the field too.

"He's a great professional - off the field too he's done heaps for the club," Antonis said.

"No one has a bad thing to say about him and people can learn from him every day."

Antonis has not flown under the radar since winning a Channel 7 competition as a 10-year-old which resulted in him meeting English football star David Beckham in Madrid to shoot a skills DVD.

The youngster, who was championing grassroots football alongside Brett Emerton in Sydney yesterday, also signed a contract with English Premier League club Everton at just 14, but that had to be terminated due to

Football Federation Australia's implementation of FIFA's rule prohibiting the transfer of footballers under 18.

And earlier this year Antonis went on trial at Bundesliga club Borussia Moenchengladbach.

He said he had aspirations to play in Europe and ultimately for the Socceroos, but was focusing on his burgeoning career with Sydney FC.

"I want to win an A-League title with Sydney," Antonis, who will play in the AFC U-19 Championship for the young Socceroos in the United Arab Emirates next month, said.

"I definitely want to play in Europe and my dream is to one day play for the Socceroos.

"But at the moment I just want to concentrate on playing and doing well for Sydney. My focus is totally on that and we will have to wait and see what else happens in the future."