Who are ya? WA s former World Cup ref reunited with Del Piero
Eddie Lennie and Alessandro Del Piero at nib Stadium. Pic provided

Considering the part referees played in the World Cup finals career of Alessandro Del Piero, it's not surprising he doesn't remember his first.

There was, of course, Argentinian Horacio Elizondo, who famously sent off France skipper Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 final for his outrageous butt on Italy defender Marco Materazzi in Berlin.

SEE VIDEO OF DEL PIERO AND LENNIE AT FRANCE 98 BELOW

Zidane, who had already scored a penalty in the match, was subsequently absent when the game went to spot-kicks and Del Piero helped Italy claim a fourth world title.

And which Italian could forget Ecuador's Byron Moreno following his officiating in Italy's last 16 shock loss to co-hosts South Korea in 2002?

Amid a storm of accusations, the Koreans were awarded a contentious early penalty, Damiano Tommasi was denied what seemed a legitimate golden goal winner, and Azzurri star striker Francesco Totti was sent off after harshly collecting a second yellow card for alleged diving. Conspiracy theories abounded, with Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni accusing FIFA of wanting the host nation to qualify.

Meanwhile, any doubts over Moreno's character were put to bed when he later served 26 months in a New York prison after being caught trying to smuggle 6kg of heroin into the US.

So little wonder Del Piero struggled to recall Perth's Eddie Lennie at nib Stadium when Sydney FC played Perth Glory last week.

It had been 14 years since they had been in each other's company, at the 1998 World Cup in France when Del Piero came on as a second-half substitute in Italy's 3-0 win over Cameroon.

“Obviously he remembered the game because it was his first game but he didn’t remember me,” said Lennie, who stopped Del Piero in the nib Stadium players’ tunnel for a chat after Sydney’s 2-2 draw with Glory.

“That was the highlight of my career and it was just the start of things for him.”

Del Piero enjoyed an illustrious club career at Juventus before joining Sydney.

His presence has boosted attendances wherever he has played and his class has been on show almost every time he has pulled on the Sky Blue shirt.

He has also had to cope with the close attention of fans off the field and opponents on it, the latter perhaps shaping his view on Hyundai A-League officials.

Lennie, who is now the Football West referee development manager, asked Del Piero what he thought of the referees in Australia.

“He looked at me and said ‘what do you think of them?’” Lennie said.

“But he was great. He took the time to sign autographs and talk to people and he was very obliging.”

Lennie, who sent off Cameroon’s Raymond Kalla in Montpellier, is aiming to stamp his authority at the next State election. Lennie is the Labor Party candidate for the seat of Scarborough.

The West Australian

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