Book review: Andrea Pirlo - I Think Therefore I Play
Andrea Pirlo recently released his autobiography titled ‘I Think Therefore I Play’, written with the help of Alessandro Alciato and translated from Italian by Mark Palmer.
From a Liverpool fan’s perspective, there is nothing better than Chapter 12 of the book where Andrea Pirlo, talks about the “Istanbul Syndrome”. To read a player as great as Pirlo suffering from disillusionment with football truly makes you realize how beautiful the game is and what it means to everyone. Being a Liverpool fan, never felt so wonderful on May 25th, 2005 when the Reds beat AC Milan in the Champions League final on penalties. But often we forget the team that bore the brunt of it also had its own set of fans and players who were left disheartened.
The biography of Pirlo gets as candid as a conversation with the man himself. There are very few restrained sentences and episodes. Pirlo has always seemed so relaxed and serious, that the book in the sense is a paradox of how he views himself. Beneath that stubble and non-descriptive face lies a devilish trickster and the darling of his teammates.
Most of the observations (my observations, it’s difficult to call them observations as I have seen and read about him on visual and print media) though seem to be true, especially the one being about “a man of few words”.
As portrayed in his book, he talks about a range of topics varying from racism, crowd trouble, free-kicks, sporting icons and the need for anti-doping measures. He makes his disgust known for some of the above topics in a clear manner. The need to support temperamental figures, his relationship with roommates Alessandro Nesta, Danielle De Rossi, Gennaro Gattusso and Alexander Matri are just some of the few highlights of this book.
The early days when he was heckled and tackled because of his attributes and the jealousy associated with a young prodigies progress makes us rethink the outlook about professional footballers. Their current association with stardom is nothing compared to the insults they receive on a daily basis and the threats which can endanger even their near and dear ones are also disturbing. Given the impassive look he has on his face all the time, the instances where he combines tragedy with humour keeps one in splits.
There are moments where the reader feels sad, but throughout the book the seriousness of issues are portrayed in a manner which makes one realize that certain things can’t be taken for granted. Be it the racist chants against Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng or the influence of the ultras or the ways fans treat them. The realization that swearing is one of his methods of expressing himself also makes him more mortal and more human.
The influence of characters such as Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta in the shaping of his career and his personality is something he constantly refers to. Respect for coaches such as Carlo Ancelloti, Marcello Lippi, Cesare Prandelli and Antonio Conte fills the heart with joy and makes the book quite gripping. Some of the emotions he releases in the books can actually be felt as the man himself having a conversation with the reader.
The book is filled with anecdotes and superstitions which footballers undertake (the one on Inzaghi is hilarious). While there is no doubt that some of the antics are pretty amusing, there are others which make you feel pity for the rest of the teammates around them.
The respect and the courting of Pirlo by the greatest clubs and how the respective managers made their approach is also interesting to note. There is one line which makes you sit up and take notice as well; it is not always about the money being offered, rather with age the number of years on offer what matters most.
Some of the most beautiful moments are explained in the most simplistic manner possible and there is a beautiful line which I couldn’t help but quote here. The context is when a player is closely marked and the text is pretty similar to marriage vows, it goes something like this:
“I Andre, take you, Andrea, as my lawful wedded target. To kick you, follow you and chop you all the days of my life, until ref do us part.”
Anyone reading this will have a smirk on their face. But in order to get the hang of it, I can best put it in Andrea Pirlo’s words: “For f***’s sake, read the book!”