By Lawrie Schwab

Pat Della Rocca, a thorough gentleman during his 18 years with Juventus, winces when he watches his son, Paul, demolish opposing forwards.

He’s much harder than I ever was, I’d hate to play against him, “Pat said. ‘’But I’m proud of him. He’s matured a lot as a person and as a player.’’
Paul Della Rocca, 18 is the latest son of a famous player to make a mark in top soccer. The others include Mike Petersen (Hellas), Jason van Blerk (Blacktown), Nick van Egmond (Croydon) and Peter Tsolakis (Hellas). Della Rocca’s Juventus club mate Tom Sonsini, who is on the verge of senior selection, is the son of former full back Joe Sonsini.

Pat Della Rocca, now 43 retired in 1981 as Juventus longest- serving player after more than 400 matches. Clearly, his son had a hard act to follow.

Bur under Juventus iron-fisted coach, Manfred Schaefer, there was no room for a clone of nice-guy Pat, who was never sent off and rarely cautioned. Paul; Della Rocca plays as a centre back, like his father did. It was also in that position that Schaefer, following the axiom ‘’ Be first and be strong’, played 73 games for Australia.

‘’Manfred told me at the very beginning that I was too nice a player’’ Paul said yesterday. ‘’He demanded that I get tougher and he worked on improving my speed. He still goes on all the runs with us. He’s very fit. He also takes part in all the training games and no, he hasn’t crippled anyone yet.’’

Schaefer’s coaching made Della Rocca a first team regular and prepared him for confrontations with the best strikers in the State League. ‘’ Billy Wright of Morwell Falcons is the toughest opponent I’ve had so far.’’ He said. ‘’ he gave me a fat lip and a sore leg but he didn’t score against me’’

But Schaefer has given Della Rocca and Juventus more than steel. Contrary to his image – he was known as ‘’Iron Man’’ and ‘’The bomber’’ – Schaefer places strong emphasis on skill and entertainment.

‘’It is the opposing teams that adapt the killer approach because we’ve been on top of the ladder for so long.’’ Paul Said.

Yet Manfred always encourages our most skilful players, like Rino Minichiello, and when we’re a goal up, he always demands another and another.’’

Schaefer will leave Juventus at the end of the league season – probably before the promotion play-offs – to take up a three year contract with APIA Leichhardt in Sydney


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