Western United captain and former Italy international Alessandro Diamanti wants to stay in the A-League after rediscovering his passion for football in Australia.
Diamanti joined A-League newcomers Western United on a one-year marquee deal in July and the 37-year-old was a class above prior to the season being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The former West Ham, Bologna and Atalanta attacker – who arrived from Serie B side Livorno – scored five goals and supplied seven assists in 19 appearances in 2019-20.
Despite Diamanti’s exploits for Western United, the veteran’s future remains uncertain with his contract expiring.
But back in love with football thanks to Australia, Diamanti told Stats Perform: “Virus or no virus, I would have kept playing anyway. For sure I will still be playing football as long as I feel physically and psychologically like this, being able to offer great performances and loving to train everyday.
“Then to be honest, to come here gave me back that lightness and that passion you always tend to lose in Europe. I will stay here in Australia next season.”
Diamanti added: “Football is the same everywhere. Then of course there are different cultural ways to let football grow and this may change from country to country.
“According to me here football is at a good level. There are interesting players and many talented youngsters who have improvement margins ahead. There are foreigners who have played abroad at high levels. Here it is physical, a lot, and very competitive. At the same time it is very cheerful, something the rest of the world [of football] should be too.”
Diamanti was handed the armband at the A-League’s newest club, a rare opportunity to lead a team from their inauguration.
“Maybe I accepted Australia for this idea,” Diamanti said. “At the beginning of the season I met the owners of my club and they told me they wanted to start off this new club adventure with me at the heart of the project.
“They made me captain and asked me to help this club to improve. They gave me responsibilities and I have always got along well with responsibilities. I liked it a lot to be winning as a captain the first game of a newborn club. It is nice.”
Western United – coached by Mark Rudan – were sixth after their 20 matches when the league was halted due to COVID-19.
The club occupied the remaining finals position on goal difference, ahead of Adelaide United.
“We started the season very well than, as it may happen, we had a slump in form due to injuries and some players who left,” said Diamanti.
“We struggled a bit in the central part of the season but in the last two or three games we were back to our standard levels and we were aiming at the playoff to have our say.️”