Thank you, maestro! milestones of Andrea Pirlo’s career

We are offers a career retrospective of one of the greatest contemporary Italian football players. The quotes have been selected from the autobiography of Andrea Pirlo “I think, therefore I play”.

He has always been a special player. He differed from others with his individual approach, the whole game was based on it, now at the age of dominating systems, this quality becomes a rarity. His style cannot be confused with someone else’s. “in Pirlo style” – everybody recognizes what it’s all about.

Andrea has never been distinguished with his physical parameters, he moved slowly, he didn’t like fighting and was not very successful in selection. He even despised such an obligatory element as pre-match warm up, calling it “masturbation”. Pirlo could do other things well – the most precise pass, field vision, resourcefulness and of course amazing ability to improvise when Andrea himself made a decision a moment before the action was committed and it was really relevant there. Some surprise was expected from him every second, and fans loved him for that.

The name of Pirlo has been associated with the term “regista” – a player in front of defence, who conducts the team, starting attacks. Before that in Italian football they admired attacking halfbacks, trequartista, who gave the last pass or decided on episode by themselves. It was easier for Andre to play from the depth, where he had more space and there was a possibility not to hurry, but to choose the best moment for an ideal diagonal or redirect the game. The special ability was performing free kicks. Pirlo didn’t learn this technique at once, but when he finally mastered this skill taking Juninho Pernambucano’s style, the goalkeepers had a hard time.

Pirlo is notorious for his tranquility. He likes joking, there is a whole chapter in his autobiography, dedicated to his tricks , where he along with Daniele de Rossi played tricks on Gattuso, getting bumps in return. Nevertheless, Andrea is not a scandal maker. He attracted attention with his play, not with motley image (though he has unordinary appearance but it is the appearance of an artist rather than punk-rocker) or strange actions. Andrea has only three tattoos, all of them are dedicated to his family and are not eye-catching. Perhaps, owing to his attitude, Pirlo was able to fit in three Italian grandees perfectly well. This amazing biography began in Brescia, where Andrea was born 38 years ago.

His Brescia

1995-1998, 2001. 59 matches

Mirca Lucesku became my mentor, he took me from the junior team in Brescia and brought me to the first division team, the world of the great ones.

Pirlo played his first match in serie A on May 21 1995. Two days earlier he turned only 16. The youngest debut player in the club history. Brescia dropped out but it was good for Andrea – he grew stronger in serie B and one year later he came back being relatively mature and what is more significant – a perspective player, Inter was interested in him. A brilliant career start.

Destiny led Pirlo back to his native town a few years later. Brescia of Carlo Mazzone was one of the warmest teams in Italy. There were prerogatives – the most experienced mentor, an extraordinary team with Roberto Baggio at the head of it (the second one – Lotar Matteus) , one of the two Pirlo’s idols , whom he admired in his childhood. Baggio played a great role in creating Pirlo as a player. It’s all about inspiring with his personal example and changing of position as well. Pirlo, who played as attacking midfielder and even under the attacker in the youth teams, moved to the main zone, which gave an opportunity to combine two geniuses in the field. This idea of Mazzone’s was later used by Ancelotti in Milan.

His Inter

1998-2001 – 38 matches

Now I reached the level of Ronaldo, Baggio, Djorkaeff. I watched them play sitting among other fans in San Siro, with my neck wrapped in a black-blue scarf.

Pirlo’s dream that hasn’t come true. He was a fan of Inter since his childhood, it may sound bitter for fans of Milan (though young Raul Gonzalez Blanco also supported Atletico). The aim seemed to be achieveable.  Andrea succeeded in the youth national team, regularly received play time and even debuted in the Champions league. Alas, he was not meant to stay in his favourite club. It was a crazy period in a history of Neradzurri when Massimo Moratti used to arrange a coaching leapfrog. As Pirlo says, he could hardly remember who was their coach at the moment and in the long run he made up his mind to work anywhere else but not in Inter.

Season 99/2000 Pirlo played for Regina (30 matches), where Roberto Baronio was his companion (who was in the youth team with him). Having returned to Inter, Andrea discovered that Marcello Lippi was dismissed after the first round and Pirlo himself was somewhat unwanted in the extremely inflated team. Half a year in Brescia and eventually 18 million euros transfer in Milan (at that time transferring between two clubs was an ordinary thing). Rossoneri didn’t regret a single eurocent they spent.

His Milan

2001-2011. 400 matches. Champion of Italy (2), the winner of the Italian Cup, the winner of the Champions League (2), the UEFA Super Cup (2) and the Club World Cup.

I wanted to leave, because after Istanbul nothing made sense for me. […] I would place the result of this match in the team’s golden album, in the center of the list of Cups and  Scudetto. This is a shame, but it raises the value of victories.

Pirlo-creator, Pirlo-champion, Pirlo-legend. This player was formed in Milan, mighty and victorious. One season on the lap, and then – the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti, who did two wonderful things. Firstly, he finally arranged Pirlo in front of the defenders, and secondly, gave him the standard bulldog, Gattuso. Their tandem became a model for complementing the central midfielders: Gennaro cleared the space around Andrea, giving him the opportunity to create. The game of this couple inspires many others now, sometimes successfully (Modric and Kazemiro), sometimes so so (Billia and Kessie in Milan today), but still Pirlo and Gattuso are piece-goods.

Being a player of Milan, Pirlo won his main trophies, and also suffered two most insulting setbacks – with Deportivo and Liverpool. Any fan will easily remember who watched football 00’s the team of those Rossoneri. This team was especially popular with us thanks to Andriy Shevchenko, but any core player was suitable to be titled an idol. Pirlo was the intellectual center of Milan, providing an advantage in the center of the field, he was backed by outstanding defenders led by Maldini and Nesto . Perfect balance!

All the good, alas, comes to an end. After ten years in Milan, Pirlo was tired. Any creative person gets bored with monotony, however positive it may be. In addition, Milan began to fever, and the club leaders for a long time did not want to let go of their controller – Pirlo was seriously interested in Real Madrid and Barcelona, ​​and Andrea himself would gladly transfer to any of these clubs. Pirlo left Milan as the champion of Italy, even though the season-2010/11 was crumpled due to injuries. A new turn of his career shocked everyone.

His Juventus

2011-2015. 164 matches. Champion of Italy (4), winner of the Italian Cup and Italian Super Cup (2)

Agnelli returned to Juventus the mentality that existed before and terribly annoyed me when I was their rival […] Calcopoli also put his hand to this Juventus, but I will remain assured for the rest of my life that they would win all the same without any help outside.

Pirlo became the symbol of the revival of Juventus. He and the winning team of Antonio Conte needed each other. If in Milan Andrea was a part of the star ensemble, in Juve the game was built around him, at the same time letting him perform standards. The most curious question: which Pirlo was stronger – Milanese or Turin ? If we evaluate according to statistics, then the second option. Playing in Milan, Pirlo gave a maximum of 8 assists for the championship, in Juventus in the first season he gave 14. The question is – should the game of such an extraordinary master be assessed with bare numbers ?

With the arrival of Pirlo Juventus returned Scudetto, and so firmly that no one can knock Bianconeri off the throne until now. In the European arena, things did not go so well, Pirlo never reached the heights of a la Milan. Juve was close to the trophy in 2015, but Barcelona appeared to be stronger. Andrea’s personal account in the finals of the Champions League – 2: 2, Gigi Buffon could have envied. There was, however, a moment of triumph when they won the final, fighting on one side of the barricades.

His national team

2002-2015. 116 matches. World champion.

“Italy means more to me. More than Inter, more than Milan, more than Juventus. This is the most important challenge. ”

Pirlo is one of the heroes of the 2006 World Cup. He played almost all the matches of the tournament from call to call, being replaced only in the second half of the quarter-final with Ukraine. The main thing is that Andrea showed himself at the right time. Imprinted in the centuries, the 119th minute of the game with Germany, when Pirlo after the corner, moving along the penalty line, gathered four opponents, and then without looking , he gave an apparently simple, but the most convenient pass under the Grosso’s strike.

The movement of the master, influenced the semifinals.  In the final Pirlo accurately hung from the corner on the head of Materazzi, and in the series of 11-meter he confidently outplayed Barthez.

Another memorable strike of Andrea’s from the “point” – in Kiev, when Skuadra Azzurra knocked out England. Spectacular “panenka”, left Joe Hart in perplexity. Pirlo did not prepare such a performance in advance. Even running, he did not know for sure how he would hit, and only when he saw that the keeper started falling into the corner, decided to strike the ball – not for the sake of beauty, but for the sake of result. Pure improvisation!

His final

Pirlo retired from European football in 2015 , he moved from Juventus to the USA after he had played the last match for the national team. He left on time. We will remember him strong, playing at the heart of the top club thanks to his skill, not his past merits. The final stop on the way to the Maestro was New York City (62 games), where Pirlo played for fun along with David Villa and Frank Lampard. Plus a comfortable old age – in New York, Andrea earned about 6 million dollars.

Now Pirlo finally quit, having written a beautiful farewell letter. Will he become a coach? We’ll see … Andrea himself was sceptical about this role before, and how can a genius explain to his wards what to do in the field ? He understood everything intuitively. Pirlo is most likely to become an ambassador of Juventus or will work in a similar position in the Italian team. He will not be forgotten, the scale of personality is too large. Thanks for everything, Andrea, you made this game better.

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