Andrea Pirlo a Model of Italian Success

By Nicholas Spiller

Andrea Pirlo is the man who has won the World Cup, two Champions Leagues, and four Serie A titles with Milan and Juventus. Andrea Pirlo is more than just a soccer player, he is a cool man. Really, Pirlo is an artist on and off the soccer field.

“I don’t feel pressure … I don’t give a toss about it. I spent the afternoon of Sunday, July 9, 2006 in Berlin sleeping and playing the PlayStation. In the evening, I went out and won the World Cup.” This is Andrea Pirlo.

Few professional soccer players can attest to having played for Inter Milan, AC Milan, and Juventus in their career. Few players are anything close to the talent that is Andrea Pirlo. His brilliant career has taken him through a delicious course of Italian cuisine which culminated in his 2006 World Cup success for his country. Still in his prime at age 32, the playmaking midfielder continues to orchestrate brilliant plays that bedazzle spectators.

Pirlo started his career at Brescia, and moved to Inter Milan in the late 90’s. He never had much success there and was loaned out multiple times. In 2001, he was transferred to rivals AC Milan during a transfer season of many surprising deals between the two clubs.

AC Milan quickly became home for Pirlo, and he spent the next decade implementing himself as a legend of the “Rossoneri”. Manager Carlo Ancelotti developed Pirlo into the wonderful player he is today. Pirlo had initially resided as a midfielder in the advanced, playmaker role. Ancelotti had Pirlo move further back so that he could dictate the flow of the entire team, not just the strikers. He was exceptional at this task and also found ways to rack up assists through his great vision and long passing ability.

Andrea Pirlo’s talent is so much greater than simply dictating play. He has exceptional ball control too. Dutch legend Johan Cruyff has said, “Pirlo can make his feet do whatever he wants. He’s a genius.” Additionally, Pirlo possesses an amazing shot with his right foot, scoring thunderous efforts from distance and a plethora of free kicks. Here is a video that highlights some his brilliant moments:

Pirlo won many accolades at AC Milan including two Serie A Championships and two UEFA Champions’ League titles. However, his greatest achievement was the 2006 World Cup trophy with Italy. Pirlo was a crucial player for his nation as he scored the opening goal and provided numerous assists throughout the tournament.

These included setting up the extra-time game winner against Germany in the semifinal and the equalizing goal from a corner in the final against France. He was awarded three man-of-the-match awards and was named the tournament’s third best player.

After his manager and close friend, Carlo Ancelotti departed for Chelsea in 2009, speculation arose about Pirlo departing the club as well. Chelsea made numerous unsuccessful approaches. In 2010 Pirlo suffered many setbacks through injuries. He missed two matches in the World Cup and then missed most of the following club season, making only 17 appearances.

As his contract expired, AC Milan refused to heavily invest in the player, as a new wages policy was restrictive. Also, Milan had players like Mark van Bommel and Clarence Seedorf who could fill the void.

Pirlo was allowed to walk for free and he eventually signed with Juventus, a club that has struggled in recent years since a tremendous betting scandal in 2006 relegated them to Serie B. The club had yet to recover from this misery and return to the top of Italian football. However, with their new star player Andrea Pirlo, Juventus has enjoyed an undefeated season up to this point, and currently resides only two points off of the Serie A summit, behind none other than AC Milan. Pirlo’s talent might very well allow Juventus to reclaim the title of Italian Champions.

Nicholas Spiller is a freelance soccer writer and can be reached at: