The football world was struck with the news of former Italy midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo announcing retirement from football after his last game for New York City and the entire football-loving community reacted accordingly.
“Not only [is it that] my adventure in New York comes to an end but my journey as a football player as well,” Pirlo said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
Strength in Numbers
Andrea Pirlo won many titles during his 22-year-long career but numbers and accolades are not the (only) thing that made him one of the greatest footballers of all time.
A world champion with Italy, Andrea Pirlo had been an integral part of AC Milan’s side that won two Serie A titles, two Champions League trophies and a Club World Cup. His trophy cabinet also includes four consecutive Scudettos won between 2012 and 2015 with Juventus.
The celebrated veteran moved to the MLS side New York in 2015 where he joined the likes of Frank Lampard and David Villa, but he failed to add any more silverware to his impressive collection in the States.
No one would hold it against him, however. Andrea Pirlo was a prize in his own merit and a gift to every team he’s ever played with and he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest players in the world.
Andrea Pirlo’s career in numbers:
👥 872 games
⚽️ 86 goals
🏆 18 trophies
😍 1 Panenka penalty
😎 The coolest man in Football pic.twitter.com/5ZS0WpHPXv
— footballreminder (@footballremind) November 6, 2017
Gentleman in Football Boots
In addition to trophies and medals he earned during his career, Andrea Pirlo remains remembered as a sophisticated football genius, a maestro with the ball.
Always a gentleman and with measured manners, Andrea Pirlo will be loved for the way he passed the ball, struck it from sublime free kicks and overall elegance in movement that was easy to fall in love to.
Never a man of athleticism and mobility, Pirlo compensated the apparent flaws with skill, tactics, vision and natural intelligence – the kind you cannot be taught but the kind you are born with.
Marcelo Lippi described him as a ‘silent leader’ and this is perhaps the most accurate explanation you can get of Andrea Pirlo. You would never see him engage in a heated argument on the pitch to prove his point or get it his way.
Pirlo would speak with his feet and those words still echo loud through the football landscape.
At rare times when he would speak, people would listen, hoping to pick up on some of his precious wisdom.
“Football is played with the head. Your feet are just tools”, he said once.
Intelligence in Movement
Contrary to common belief that you need the best tools – as he described them – to get the job done, Pirlo was an exception to that misconceived rule. Never the quickest of players, Andrea Pirlo has always been one of the smartest.
The Italian midfield maestro was always at least two steps ahead of his opposition, turning the game of football in a chess duel where he would constantly have the upper-hand. Seemingly out of pace and speed, Andrea Pirlo would never let you dispossess him but rather trip you into making a mistake – even the smallest one – to crack open that tiny space he would need for a sublime split-second pass.
Dancing through the opposition was the way Pirlo moved on the pitch, never using sheer power and strength to bully his rivals. Falsely slow and deceivingly out of pace he would always have one more trick up his sleeve – whether it’s a defence-splitting pass, a pop at goal or another piece of skill and vision to get himself into a better distribution or shooting position.
A 5 ft 9 in tall giant in the most grandiose sense of the word is the last of his kind.
An artist in a relentless pursuit of beauty and grand design, an orchestrator who uses his vivid imagination, creativity and vision to make everything around him spur to life.
Simply put – a beautiful footballer who will be hard to replace.
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