Yesterday, the football world lost another gem. Andrea Pirlo, the stone-faced, flowing-haired magician hung his boots, joining Francesco Totti as yet another Italian great to leave the game. And while the giallorossi were never lucky enough to call Pirlo one of their own, his legacy and class will undoubtedly etch him into history as one of Italy’s greatest players of all time.
Ending his career at the graveyard that is the MLS, the 38 year old Pirlo caps 22 years as a professional footballer. In that time, the Italian earned numerous individual and team accolades: two scudettos and just as many Champion’s League titles with AC Milan, another four Seria A titles with Juventus, and perhaps his most crowning achievement, a 2006 World Cup trophy with Italy.
While there were many Italian standouts during the spectacular 2006 World Cup run, it is safe to say that the tournament belonged to Andrea Pirlo. Leading every player in man of the match performances against Ghana, Germany in the semi-final, and most importantly, Italy’s win against France in the final, Peerless Pirlo notched three assists and one goal. However, what people will remember is not the numbers he produced, but rather his silky play, keen eye, and cool demeanor, all trademarks of a unique style unmatched in today’s football.
As Pirlo leaves, the art of the playmaker goes with him. He joins the old guard in the hall of the classics, perhaps beside his friend, Francesco Totti. Back in May, when Totti gave his farewell, football lost some magic, and now even more fades away with Pirlo’s exit. The lofting-passes, the surgical through-balls, the calculated control, all of Pirlo’s creative play seems to belong to an different era of football. And although the magic he gave were to the enemies of Roma, his contribution to the sport surpasses any allegiances.
So, a glass raised to the Peerless one, may he go coolly into the post-player void, finding solace in a bountiful career filled with glory.