Andrea Pirlo - A benchmark for midfielders
Some people are just born to mesmerize others. They do it in their own way but they do it with a flair of their own that steals everyone else's attention. There aren’t many who are capable of doing such things. They might not be the greatest of all time but are maestros, and people won’t forget that, ever.
With time, we've learned to admire the legends, even if they've played for rival clubs. We would just be in awe and watch them every second, we would look at each and every movement of theirs and just wait, wait for their charm. In football, we’ve had many such maestros. They have come and gone and have inspired millions all around the world to believe in the sport.
The best memory I have of one of the biggest maestros that this sport offered was during the 2012 Euros which Spain won for the second time in a row. They completely dominated the Azzurri in the final and won the game by a landslide with David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata scoring.
But before Italy reached the finals they played England in the quarter-finals which resulted in a penalty shootout out between the two teams. That’s when I saw the Maestro performing his magic. In the shootout versus one of the best keepers of the tournament at the time, Joe Hart, Andrea Pirlo stepped up to take the crucial penalty.
When he saw Joe Hart smiling at him he decided to strut his stuff. At that moment when the entire world watched, just waiting for him to tuck away his penalty with ease. A show which remained in the memory of millions. He did the unthinkable and chipped the ball into the goal with Hart on the floor, helpless. That’s when I saw the architect and fell in love with him, the way he played.
'The Professor' started playing for his hometown side of Brescia and helped them get promoted to Seria A in 1997. He shifted to Inter Milan in 1998 but he couldn’t break out into the first team no matter how hard he tried. He then later spend terms with Reggina and his hometown team on loan where even though he played remarkably he was still not able to be a part of the first team back in Inter and that’s when he was sold to city rivals AC Milan where he met Carlo Ancelotti who made him the playmaker of the legendary AC Milan team which won the 2007 Champions League.
Pirlo was nicknamed Mozart after he showed the world how he could orchestrate plays so well that even the opposition would just be standing still wondering what was going on. That was how Pirlo influenced the game. The opposition would not even be aware of what was happening on the pitch when he made his plays.
Wherever he stepped on the pitch, Pirlo was the creative spearhead of the team and he proved that when he won the World Cup in 2006 and before that, the U21 World Cup where he captained the side and also won the Golden Player of the tournament. Wherever he went Pirlo had success.
After playing ten years with Milan, he was allowed to leave on a free transfer, in what was a strange decision by the Rossoneri. He won the Serie A every season with the Old Lady. After a disappointing defeat in the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2015, Pirlo moved to the MLS and represented New York F.C. where he joined the likes of David Villa and Frank Lampard.
After 22 years of showcasing his masterclass to the football fraternity, Andrea Pirlo was a true genius that the world admired. Mozart is a nickname that he truly deserved. Very few have come close to the play-making skills of Pirlo.
Pirlo has set the bar very high for the upcoming midfielders. They will now be asked whether they are as good as how Pirlo was. He has inspired millions by orchestrating plays that others could only play out in their minds.