Andrea Pirlo

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Andrea Pirlo
Andrea Pirlo Juventus.jpg
Pirlo playing for Juventus in 2012
Personal information
Full name Andrea Pirlo[1]
Date of birth (1979-05-19) 19 May 1979 (age 34)
Place of birth Flero, Lombardy, Italy
Height 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)[2]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current club Juventus
Number 21
Youth career
1994–1995 Brescia
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1995–1998 Brescia 47 (6)
1998–2001 Internazionale 22 (0)
1999–2000 Reggina (loan) 28 (6)
2001 Brescia (loan) 10 (0)
2001–2011 Milan 284 (32)
2011– Juventus 92 (12)
National team
1993–1994 Italy U15 3 (0)
1994–1995 Italy U16 6 (2)
1995–1996 Italy U17 4 (0)
1996–1997 Italy U18 18 (7)
1998–2002 Italy U21 37 (15)
2000–2004 Olympic Italy 9 (1)
2002– Italy 107 (13)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20 March 2014.

† Appearances (Goals).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 18 November 2013

Andrea Pirlo, Ufficiale OMRI[3][4] (born 19 May 1979), is an Italian footballer who plays for Serie A club Juventus and the Italian national team. He is usually deployed as a deep-lying playmaker or regista (a playmaker operating in a position similar to that of a defensive midfielder) for both Juventus and Italy and is regarded as a leading exponent of this position.[5] Although not gifted with pace, physicality or notable defensive or tackling abilities, Pirlo has been praised for his touch, technique, control, dribbling, incredible vision, inventive play and his accurate passing ability.[6] He is also a set-piece and penalty-kick specialist, who is known for his long distance shooting and passing.[7][8] Fellow players on the Italian national team gave him the nickname l'architetto ("the architect"), because his long passes frequently set up goal-scoring opportunities.[9] In recent years, Juventus fans also dub him il professore ("the professor") and Mozart,[10] as a reference to the Austrian composer's prodigious ability.

Pirlo is the fifth-most capped player in the history of the Italian national team with 107 caps. He has played for the Italian youth teams at U15, U18 and U21 level, captaining and leading the latter to victory in the 2000 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship as the Golden Player and Top Scorer of the tournament. He joined the Italian senior side during the qualification round for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and captained the national team to a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics. Later, he was instrumental in their victory in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, finishing as the top assist provider. He was named man of the match three times, including the final, more than any other player in the tournament, and ultimately won the Bronze Ball (third best player in tournament) also being elected to be part of the Team of the Tournament. He was also elected as part of the UEFA Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament, after leading Italy to the final, winning three man of the match awards in the process, the most of any player along with Andrés Iniesta. He has also represented Gli Azzurri at the 2004 and 2008 UEFA European Championships, the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the 2009 and 2013 FIFA Confederations Cups.

With Milan, he won two UEFA Champions Leagues (2003 and 2007), two European Super Cups (2003 and 2007), two Serie A titles (2004 and 2011), a FIFA Club World Cup (2007), and a Coppa Italia (2003). After joining Juventus in 2011, he added two more Serie A titles in 2012 and 2013. He came in third, second and fourth in IFFHS World Playmaker of the Year awards in 2006, 2007 and 2012, respectively.[11][11] He also came in fourth in the 2012 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.[12] He placed 7th in the 2007 FIFA World Player, 5th in the 2007 Ballon d'Or and 7th in the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or award. He was also named as part of the 2006 FIFPro World XI and the 2012 UEFA Team of the Year.[13] In 2012, Pirlo was also elected as Serie A Footballer of the Year, and was named as part of the Serie A team of the Year.[14]

In 2013, Pirlo was ranked as the fifth best footballer in Europe by Bloomberg.[15]

Club career[edit]

Early years[edit]

In 1995, at the age of 16, Pirlo made his debut for Brescia against Reggina.[16] After breaking into the Brescia first team, Pirlo was spotted by Internazionale coach Mircea Lucescu, who signed the playmaker. Pirlo was unable to break into the first squad, however, and Inter finished eighth in the 1998–99 Serie A campaign. Inter loaned Pirlo to Reggina for the 1999–2000 season. After an impressive season, he returned to Inter but was once again unable to break into the first team, making just four league appearances and spent the second half of the season on loan at former club, Brescia.

Milan[edit]

Pirlo warming up before a Milan game in 2007

After three seasons on the Inter books, Pirlo was sold to fierce rivals Milan for 33,000 million Italian lire (€17,043,078)[17] on 30 June 2001, the last day of 2000–01 financial year.[18] The transfer fee was partially funded by the movement of Dražen Brnčić in the opposite direction for an undisclosed fee. In the same window Inter swapped Cristian Brocchi (25 billion lire;[19] €12.9 million) for Guly (undisclosed fee; €8.537 million profit)[20] and Matteo Bogani for Paolo Ginestra. The deals were later reported by the Italian press to have been undertaken to create "false profit" by inflating the players' values in the transfer fees in the swap deal. The exchange involving Ginestra and Bogani created an approximate €3.5 million "profit" for both clubs, but this actually manifested itself in terms of useless registration rights.[21][22]

It was at Milan where he made big strides in developing into a world class player, and one of the best deep-lying playmakers and set-piece specialists in the world. With Milan, he won two Serie A titles and was an integral part of the Rossoneri's midfield; they went on to win the Champions League in both 2003 and 2007 (assisting Filippo Inzaghi's first goal) under coach Carlo Ancelotti, and also reached the final in 2005. During this period, Milan also finished as runners up in Serie A in the 2004–05 season and the 2005–06 season (before their 30-point deduction due to their involvement in the 2006 Calciopoli scandal), as well as finishing second on penalties in the 2003 Supercoppa Italiana, in which Pirlo scored on a penalty in extra time and in the shootout. In the 2004–05 Champions League tournament, Pirlo finished as one of the second highest assist providers with four assists.[23] He also won a Coppa Italia, a Supercoppa Italiana and two UEFA Super Cups during his time with Milan between 2003 and 2007 (assisting Milan's second goal in the 2007 final), as well as their first FIFA World Club Cup title in 2007, once again assisting Milan's second goal. His most forgettable incident, however, was probably the penalty miss during 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, as his spot kick was saved by Jerzy Dudek in their shoot-out loss to Liverpool, after Liverpool had made a three goal comeback in the second half of normal time.[24] He had previously, however, assisted Paolo Maldini's opening goal in the 2005 Champions League final, after 50 seconds, from a free-kick, and combined with Kaká before the Brazilian unleashed Hernán Crespo with a long pass for Milan's third goal before halftime.

Pirlo started his career as an offensive midfielder until coach Carlo Mazzone moved him to a deep-seated playmaking role while at Brescia, with Roberto Baggio in the attacking midfield role. A notable moment in his Brescia career was his long pass which assisted Baggio's late equaliser against Juventus at the Stadio delle Alpi, in 2001. Fatih Terim and Carlo Ancelotti further developed this role at Milan, to allow Pirlo to play alongside other talented attacking midfielders, such as Rivaldo, Rui Costa and eventually Kaka, replacing the gap left by Milan legend Demetrio Albertini in midfield. He would form a formidable partnership with Gennaro Gattuso (as well as with Clarence Seedorf and Massimo Ambrosini, who also supported his playmaking role) in the midfield and him the nickname the metronome for the way he set the team's rhythm.[25] He led Serie A in the 2002–03 season in four categories – passes played (2589), ball possession (123 hours played and 39 minutes), successful balls (661), and successful passes (2093); he averaged almost 90 passes per game. He led Milan in minutes played for the 2006–07 season with 2,782. In October 2007, he was nominated for the both the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year and the 2007 World's Best Playmaker Awards but they went to Milan teammate Kaká instead. After Kaká and Ancelotti left Milan in the summer of 2009, Chelsea tested Milan's resolve by bidding $12 million and Claudio Pizarro for Pirlo. The club rejected the offer and Pirlo was said to be contemplating a transfer request.[citation needed] On 5 August, club owner Silvio Berlusconi decided not to sell Pirlo, who said he was overjoyed and wanted to end his career at Milan.[26] On 21 October 2009, Pirlo scored a notable 30-metre goal in Milan's 3–2 win over Real Madrid.[27] Milan finished the 2008–09 season tied for second place with Juventus in Serie A.

Milan played host to Genoa on 25 September 2010, with Pirlo providing a lifted ball over the top of the defence to set striker Zlatan Ibrahimović free to score the solitary goal of the game.[28] On 2 October, Pirlo scored a 40-yard goal against Parma to give Milan their first away win of the 2010–11 season.[29] On 14 May 2011, Pirlo appeared in his last match for Milan, coming on as a half-time substitute for Massimo Ambrosini as the club celebrated their Title with a 4–1 victory over Cagliari.[30] Four days later, Pirlo confirmed that he would be leaving Milan at the end of the 2010–11 season, after a mutual decision not to renew his contract.[31] In his last season in Milan, Pirlo appeared in the league just 17 times, notching just one goal and three assists.[32]

Juventus[edit]

Pirlo playing for Juventus in 2011

In 2011, Juventus signed Pirlo on a free transfer on a contract until 2014.[33] His debut with Juventus was in a friendly match against Sporting Clube de Portugal, which they lost 2–1. His first competitive match with La Vecchia Signora was the Serie A opening match against Parma at home and tallied two assists, for Stephan Lichtsteiner and Claudio Marchisio, in a 4–1 victory.[34][35] Antonio Conte played him alongside younger midfielders Marchisio and new signing Arturo Vidal in a three-man midfield. His first goal for Juventus was a free kick against Catania on 18 February 2012 securing a 3–1 victory for the Bianconeri and put the club back at the top of the Serie A table, above his former side Milan.[36] On 18 March, Pirlo scored in a 5–0 demolition of Fiorentina and after the game dedicated the win to Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a cardiac arrest playing for Bolton Wanderers during a match against Tottenham Hotspur the same day.[37][38]

He finished the season as a winner of the 2011–12 Serie A after helping Juve secure a 2–0 victory over Cagliari.[39] The midfield general also provided the most assists in the Serie A season, with 13.[40] Pirlo also found the back of the net three times in the league as he was named to the Serie A "Team of the Year" along with midfielder partner Arturo Vidal, proving that he still has what it takes to cut it at the top level following his departure from Milan.[41] Pirlo and Juventus also finished runners up to Napoli in the Coppa Italia final.[42] Pirlo's fine form in the 2011–12 season, in which he led Juventus to the league title, the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia Final, as well as leading Italy to the final of Euro 2012, saw him nominated for the 2012 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, in which he finished 4th.[12] He was also elected to be part of the ESM 2012 Team of the Year and the 2012 UEFA Team of the Year.

Pirlo played in the 2012 Supercoppa Italiana in Beijing on 11 August 2012 against Napoli, helping Juventus to a 4–2 win in extra time.[43] Pirlo curled in a free-kick to seal a 2–0 defeat of Parma on the opening day of the new Serie A season. The goal caused much controversy, as the Parma players protested that it had not gone over the line, and replays proved inconclusive.[44] In the following league match against Udinese on 2 September, Pirlo helped to win a penalty and assisted Sebastian Giovinco's second goal of the match as Juventus went on to defeat the home side 4–1.[45] On 29 September, Pirlo opened the scoring when he dispatched a trade mark free kick to send Juventus on their way to a 4–1 defeat of Roma.[46] Pirlo was nominated for the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or, along with Juventus and Italy team mate Gianluigi Buffon, following their performances throughout the calendar year.[47] Pirlo provided three assists for Juventus during the Group Stage, helping them to top their group undefeated and advance to the knockout stages for first time since the 2008–09 tournament.[48] Pirlo was also elected as Serie A Footballer of the Year, as well as the best midfielder and Italian Footballer of the Year. He was named as part of the Serie A team of the Year.[14] Pirlo also won the Pallone Azzurro, given to the best player of the year in the Italian National Team,[49] as well as placing fourth in the IFFHS World Playmaker of the Year.[50] Pirlo and Juventus retained their Serie A title that season. Juventus were, however, eliminated by Bayern Munich in the Quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League, and in the Semi finals of the Coppa Italia by Lazio; both of these teams were the winners of these respective competitions.

Pirlo featured in Juventus's 4–0 win against Lazio in the 2013 Supercoppa Italiana, on 18 August 2013, at the Stadio Olimpico, in Rome. Pirlo helped to create Paul Pogba's opening goal in the twenty-third minute of play.[51] Pirlo was the only Italian player to be nominated for the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or, and was also nominated for the 2013 FIFPro World XI.[52] On 1 December, Pirlo sustained a knee-ligament injury which would keep him off the field for over a month.[53]

On 12 January 2014, Pirlo signed a new contract with Juventus, which will keep him at the club until 2016.[54]

International career[edit]

Andrea Pirlo playing for Italy against England in quarter final of Euro 2012

Pirlo is a silent leader. He speaks with his feet.

To pass the ball to Andrea Pirlo is like to hide it in a safe.

Is he the best player of his generation? Not quite, but he is the most important.

—Michael Cox[55]

Pirlo captained Italy to an Under-21 European Championship in 2000 (wearing the number 10 jersey and winning the awards for best player and top scorer) and to a semi-final finish in 2002. Pirlo played for Italy at the 2000 Summer Olympics and helped the Azzurri to win the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics. His first major tournament with the Italian senior team was UEFA Euro 2004, where the team was eliminated at the first round.

2006 World Cup[edit]

Pirlo was a member of the Italian squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.[56] He had assured Italy's participation in the tournament after scoring two free kicks in a World Cup Qualifier against Scotland.[57] In Italy's first match in the tournament, Pirlo scored the opening goal against Ghana, and subsequently set up a goal for Vincenzo Iaquinta to seal a 2–0 victory, as the midfielder was named Man of the Match.[58] In the second match, he set up a diving header for Alberto Gilardino from a set piece which proved to be vital in the 1–1 draw against the United States.[59]

In the semi-final against Germany, he assisted on the opening goal in the dying minutes, and was again named Man of the Match, as Italy triumphed 2–0 over the hosts.[60] In the final against France, his corner kick produced Marco Materazzi's equalizing header ten minutes after France had opened the score. The match went to a penalty shoot-out, in which he scored.[61][62] He was named Man of the Match for a third time, and was voted third-best player of the tournament, winning the Bronze Ball and finishing as the top assist provider.[63] He was named as part of the 2006 FIFPro XI and as part of the 2006 World Cup Team of the Tournament for his performances.[64]

Post World Cup[edit]

On 17 June 2008, Pirlo netted a penalty as Italy defeated France 2–0, to send their rivals and World Cup runners-up crashing out of the European Championships at the group stage.[65] Italy lost on penalty kicks to eventual winners Spain in the quarterfinals, as Pirlo and Milan teammate Gennaro Gattuso were suspended for the match.[66]

On 15 June 2009, Pirlo assisted Giuseppe Rossi's second goal in a 3–1 win in Italy's opening match of the Confederations Cup against the USA.[67] Italy subsequently lost the following two group matches against Egypt and Brazil, and were eliminated from the competition.

Pirlo was not able to play the first two games in the 2010 World Cup for Italy due to recent injuries. He came off the bench for Italy late in the match on 24 June against Slovakia. Even with his help in orchestrating a renewed Italian offense, Pirlo could not prevent Italy from being knocked out of the first round.[68]

Euro 2012[edit]

Coach Prandelli named Pirlo Vice-Captain of the Italian squad, behind Captain, Gianluigi Buffon. Pirlo appeared in nine matches as Italy qualified for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine,[69] netting one goal in Italy's 5–0 hammering of minnows Faroe Islands on 7 September 2010.[70]

Because of his good performances in leading Juventus to becoming Italian champions, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli included the playmaker in his 32-man provisional squad for the Euros.[71][72] Pirlo provided the cutting ball from which Antonio di Natale scored the opening goal of Italy's 1–1 draw with World and European champions Spain in the opening round of group play on 10 June.[73] Pirlo then opened the scoring himself, scoring from a direct free-kick in their second match against Croatia on 14 June.[74] In the final group match against Ireland, Pirlo set up Antonio Cassano's goal from a corner kick to help Italy take a 1–0 lead.[75] Italy eventually won 2–0 and progressed to the knock-out stage of the tournament as runners-up in Group C.[76]

On 24 June, Pirlo produced a man-of-the-match performance against England as Italy won on penalties 4–2 after the game had finished 0–0 in extra time.[77] Pirlo scored in the shoot-out with an audacious chipped penalty down the centre of the goal, known as a Panenka.[78] Following the match Pirlo spoke of his eloquent penalty, stating, "At the moment I saw the goalkeeper making strange movements, so I waited for him to move and hit it like that... It was easier for me to chip it at that stage. Maybe my effort put some pressure on England."[79][80]

In the semi-final round, on 28 June, Pirlo once again put up a man-of-the-match performance against Germany, a match which Italy won 2–1.[81] Following Italy's success in the semifinals, in which Pirlo helped Italy reach the final against Spain by starting the play which led to Balotelli's first goal, Italy were defeated 4–0 against Spain in the final.

Pirlo won three Man of the Match Awards for Euro 2012, equalled amongst with Andrés Iniesta of Spain, and was elected to be part of the team of the tournament.[82]

2013 Confederations Cup[edit]

Pirlo was selected for Italy's squad to play in Brazil at the 2013 Confederations Cup.[83] He won his 100th cap on 16 June in Italy's opening game against Mexico, opening the scoring with a trademark free kick as Italy downed El Tri 2–1, and Pirlo was voted man of the match.[84] In the second group stage match against Japan, Pirlo assisted De Rossi's goal against from a corner. The match ended 4–3 to Italy.[85] The win allowed Italy to progress to the semi-finals of the competition. Pirlo did not play in the third group stage match against hosts Brazil, as he had come down with a minor injury at the end of the second match, although he would be available to play for the semi-finals.[86] Italy were defeated 4–2, which meant that they finished second in group A, and would be playing the winners of group B, tournament favourites Spain, in a rematch of the European Championship Final of the previous year. Italy held Spain to 0–0 draw, and the match eventually went to penalties. Pirlo netted his penalty, but Bonucci's miss allowed Spain to advance to the finals, as they won the shootout 7–6. Pirlo was injured for the third place final, although Italy managed to defeat Uruguay 3–2 on penalties, after a 2–2 draw. Pirlo was nominated for the Golden Ball award, although he failed to place amongst the top three players of the tournament, as the awards went to Neymar, Iniesta and Paulinho, respectively.[87]

Personal life[edit]

Pirlo was born in Flero, Lombardy, Italy and started his professional career with provincial giants Brescia Calcio.[88] His brother, Ivan, plays for a Serie C2 club in Brescia. Pirlo and his wife Deborah Roversi married in 2001 and have two children: son Niccolò (born 2003) and daughter Angela (born 2006).[89][90]

Pirlo's father founded a metal trading company in Brescia in 1982 called Elg Steel. Pirlo himself retains a stake in the family business.[91] With regard to his wealth from his family business and footballing career, Pirlo stated in an interview with Italian Vanity Fair magazine that he never talks about money.[92] Pirlo is known for being a wine connoisseur and he also runs his own vineyard in Italy, which produces around 15–20,000 bottles a year.[93] In 2013, Pirlo has written an autobiography, Penso Quindi Gioco (I Think, Therefore I Play)[94][95]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 20 March 2014[96]
Team Season League Cup Europe[nb 1] Other[nb 2][97] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Brescia 1994–95 1 0 - - - - - - 1 0
1995–96 - - - - - - - - 0 0
1996–97 17 2 1 0 - - - - 18 2
1997–98 29 4 1 0 - - - - 30 4
Total 47 6 2 0  – 49 6
Internazionale 1998–99 18 0 7 0 7 0 - - 32 0
2000–01 4 0 1 0 3 0 - - 8 0
Total 22 0 8 0 10 0 40 0
Reggina (loan) 1999–2000 28 6 2 0 - - - - 30 6
Total 28 6 2 0 30 6
Brescia (loan) 2001 10 0 - - - - - - 10 0
Total 10 0 10 0
Milan 2001–02 18 2 2 0 9 0 - - 29 2
2002–03 27 9 2 0 13 0 - - 42 9
2003–04 32 6 - - 9 1 3 1 44 8
2004–05 30 4 1 0 12 1 - - 43 5
2005–06 33 4 4 0 12 1 - - 49 5
2006–07 34 2 4 0 14 1 - - 52 3
2007–08 33 3 1 0 8 2 3 0 45 5
2008–09 26 1 - - 3 1 - - 29 2
2009–10 34 0 1 0 8 1 - - 43 1
2010–11 17 1 3 0 5 0 - - 25 1
Total 284 32 18 0 93 8 6 1 401 41
Juventus 2011–12 37 3 4 0 - - - - 41 3
2012–13 32 5 2 0 10 0 1 0 45 5
2013–14 21 4 1 0 10 2 1 0 31 6
Total 90 12 7 0 20 2 2 0 119 14
Career Total 478 55 36 0 121 10 8 1 643 66

International[edit]

Italy national team
Year Apps Goals
2002 4 0
2003 1 0
2004 7 1
2005 9 3
2006 14 1
2007 8 1
2008 9 1
2009 12 1
2010 8 1
2011 9 0
2012 13 2
2013 8 2
Total 102 13

International goals[edit]

Scores and results list Italy's goal tally first.
No Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 30 May 2004 Stade Olympique de Radès, Radès, Tunisia  Tunisia 3–0 4–0 Friendly
2. 26 March 2005 San Siro, Milan, Italy  Scotland 1–0 2–0 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
3. 2–0
4. 17 August 2005 Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Republic of Ireland  Republic of Ireland 1–0 2–1 Friendly
5. 12 June 2006 AWD-Arena, Hanover, Germany  Ghana 1–0 2–0 2006 FIFA World Cup
6. 13 October 2007 Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy  Georgia 1–0 2–0 UEFA Euro 2008 qualification
7. 17 June 2008 Letzigrund, Zurich, Switzerland  France 1–0 2–0 UEFA Euro 2008
8. 28 March 2009 Podgorica City Stadium, Podgorica, Montenegro  Montenegro 1–0 2–0 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
9. 7 September 2010 Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy  Faroe Islands 5–0 5–0 UEFA Euro 2012 qualification
10. 14 June 2012 Stadion Miejski, Poznań, Poland  Croatia 1–0 1–1 UEFA Euro 2012
11. 12 October 2012 Hrazdan Stadium, Yerevan, Armenia  Armenia 1–0 3–1 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification
12. 31 May 2013 Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna, Italy  San Marino 3–0 4–0 Friendly
13. 16 June 2013 Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  Mexico 1–0 2–1 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
As of 17 June 2013[98]

Honours[edit]

Brescia[edit]

A.C. Milan[edit]

Juventus[edit]

International[edit]

Individual[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ European competitions include the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League
  2. ^ Other tournaments include the Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and FIFA Club World Cup

References[edit]

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External links[edit]