Lecce signing Fabrizio Miccoli has confirmed he was close to signing for Melbourne Victory before choosing his hometown club.
The 34-year-old striker left Palermo at the end of June and was heavily linked with a move to the A-League.
Reports suggested Miccoli had verbally agreed to join Victory and would be unveiled during the club’s marquee friendly against Liverpool.
But the forward, who was born in the small town of Nardo, just 30 kilometres from Lecce, signed with the Serie B outfit on on July 15.
Despite that decision, Miccoli confirmed at his official unveiling with Lecce that he was close to joining Ange Postecoglou’s team in Australia’s top tier.
“This is a special and historic day for me,” Miccoli told reporters.
“In terms of football this is the happiest day of my career. Finally my signature arrived which has been so long in coming.
“The question of level was never an issue, which I have shown with this decision.
“I want to thank the president and director of the club who have shown me affection. And I also want to thank my family who understood my decision. I am happy.
“I also want to thank Melbourne who until the last moment tried to persuade me to join them, focusing on Miccoli the footballer.
“Going there would have been great but it isn’t Lecce. Thank you all for coming…Forza Lecce.”
Miccoli left Palermo, relegated to Serie B last season, under a cloud after being linked with mafia figures and investigated for extortion.
It was expected the investigation and links would see him leave Italy before he decided to join Lecce.
Missing out on Miccoli marked the second time in the off-season Victory have failed to secure the services of a high-profile marquee after Greece international Giorgos Karagounis signed for Fulham, ending their chances of bringing the 36-year-old midfielder to Australia.