Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo: The midfield maestro everyone loved

Italian legend, Andrea Pirlo, Monday, drew the curtain on a glittering career. The archetypal deep-lying playmaker and dead-ball maestro made his decision known at the end of New York City’s league campaign. “You know when the time has come,” the 38-year-old said. “Every day you have physical problems and you can’t train as you would like to. At my age, it’s fine to say enough is enough.” That said, we take a look at his extraordinary journey to the top.

Career path

Born into a degree of privilege with his father a steel magnate in Brescia, Pirlo was exceedingly talented from a young age and was soon signed up by his hometown club, making his Serie A debut at 16. Two years later Internazionale came calling with Italian youth honours from Under-15 to Under-21. It was a gilded career seemingly destined for greatness. But in the chaos that was Inter of the last 1990s – five managers between 1998-2001 – he failed to find a place in his preferred No10.

After such a rapid elevation, the knock of not being wanted at one of Europe’s biggest clubs could have affected him, but instead, a move to city rivals AC Milan and a switch to a deeper role unearthed his genius. He shone in an age of an emphasis on athletes first. Just as Xavi and Iniesta defied convention, so did Pirlo. The players of the future had to be bigger, stronger, faster. He passed his way through them.

The Rossoneri helped him grow into a great but in 2011, as he turned 31 after a serious knee injury, he was discarded with a feeling his best days were behind him. It seems bizarre to think now, but Juventus were generally viewed as taking a significant risk on signing him on a free transfer. How ridiculous that seems now.

Once again, he reinvented himself, conducting the Bianconeri’s orchestra to his own tune and enjoyed the third chapter of his career so many didn’t think possible. His approach on the field was more craft than graft, but then Pirlo always worked in his own individual way.

Playing style

There have been countless aspects of Andrea Pirlo to admire as a footballer. His passing range, the way he would control the tempo of a match despite often being the slowest player on the field, his ability to deliver in the biggest games and with style all of his own; any pass-heavy midfielder now deployed just in front of the defence will forever from this day be in the “Pirlo role”.  his vision, ball control, creativity and free-kick ability also stood out.The likes of Marco Verrati, Sergio Busquets and many others have since taken after him.

Honours/ Recognition

Pirlo was a winner everywhere he went. His first taste of glory was with Brescia in 1997, winning the Serie B. However, the turn of the millennium happened to be the most remarkable in the 38-year-old’s career. Pirlo won nine titles between 2001 and 2011 at Milan. This included two Serie A, two UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. At Juventus, he won an additional seven trophies. For his country, Pirlo made 116 appearances scoring 13 goals, winnning the FIFA World Cup in 2006.

Tributes

The football world hasn’t stopped talking about Pirlo. He was certainlythat midfield maestro everyone adored.

“Whoever has played with Andrea can understand the word ‘unique,”’ Italy captain, Gianluigi Buffon, wrote on Instagram.

“A champion who comprised class, elegance and humility,” added Buffon, who also teamed with Pirlo at Juventus.

Recently retired Roma captain Francesco Totti, another teammate from the 2006 Italy side, tweeted, “It was an honour to play with you and against you, a champion with immense class.”

“He spoke with his feet,” Marcello Lippi, Italy’s coach at the 2006 World Cup, said.

Paul Pogba, who played alongside the 38-year-old at Juve admitted “When you look at Pirlo you just want to be like him. Every day you learn something from him.”

Carlo Ancelotti, his coach at Milan revealed: “Andrea Pirlo is fabulous; there aren’t any other adjectives to describe him.”

“Whenever I see him with the ball I ask myself whether I should really be considered a footballer,” so said
Gennaro Gattuso, his former teammate at Milan and Italian national team opined.

“A footballer in capital letters: spectacular. We played at every level before finally meeting as professionals, when he was playing for Italy, Milan and then Juventus. I have always been a fan and admirer of Pirlo,”
Xavi Hernández opined.

About the Author Toby

An unrepentant soccer freak other freaks call geek.

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