A mainstay in the Italian midfield for the last decade and one of the greatest, most creative midfielder to have amazed us in recent times. And yet, one of the most underrated players in the times gone by; Andrea Pirlo is certainly a curious case. Perhaps the perfect definition of a ‘team player’, Pirlo has most of the highest team accolades in football inclusive of the Champions League, the World Cup and the Serie A. The one trophy to have eluded him on two occasions has been the European Championship.
Yet, on the individual front, the highest honour that the Italian has received was the FIFA Bronze Ball Award in the 2006 World Cup. A team player or simply someone whose contributions have been ignored, no one can deny the genius that Pirlo is.
“Pirlo is a silent leader. He speaks with his feet.” – Marcelo Lippi
After making his debut in 1995 for Brescia, Pirlo’s career didn’t really get off to a flying start and he wasn’t an overly hyped player in his youth. A move to AC Milan changed all that and the boy from Flero was starting to mould into a world-class passer and midfielder. 10 glorious years at Milan saw him win 2 Scudettos and a Champions League winner medal. However, Milan wrote him off as ‘old’ and ‘slow’ and at 33 years, Pirlo was released, to be snapped up by Juventus. What a poach that turned out to be.
His pride dented and his heart raging, Pirlo went on to have perhaps his best individual season with La Vecchia Signora, helping them to capture the Scudetto. He proved that age may have a considerable effect on your speed but class? That’s a totally different ball game. In the Euro 2012 game vs Spain, Pirlo proved again why he remains the best Italian midfielder currently, with a magical assist for Antonio Di Natale’s goal. An assist, which was reminiscent of the one in the World Cup 2006 semifinal against a German contingent – one which proved to be decisive in sending Italy to the finals.
A man of mystery, Pirlo has been one of the game’s many unheralded geniuses. An example of the impact the centre of midfield can have one a game and a player of equal calibre to the Spanish duo of Xavi and Xabi Alonso, Pirlo would be vying for the one title that has eluded him so far. So, consider it expected if the Italian maestro conjures up yet another masterclass performance to boost Italy’s bid to triumph.