Andrea Pirlo has revealed he is retiring in a couple of months in an interview with La Gazzetta in which he also spoke of Milan: ‘It takes time and faith even if the results don’t come immediately.’
For many Milan fans, Pirlo lost his legend status when he moved to Juventus in 2011 as a free agent (and for the things he said of the Rossoneri in his autobiography) but there is no denying that he’s one of the best Italian midfielders of all time.
After tenures with Inter, Milan and Juve and 13 years with the national team (the Azzurri face Albania on Monday and you can check their odds on football betting sites), Pirlo is now looking at things from as an outside observer as he’s in MLS with New York City FC, who are currently second in the Eastern Conference.
He spoke to Sunday’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport, saying he is planning on hanging up his boots in a few months, commenting on the situation of the Nazionale and also talking about Milan and Leonardo Bonucci, who compared his €42m summer move from Juventus to Milan to that of Pirlo.
“You realize by yourself that the moment has arrived,” Pirlo told GdS. “Every day you have physical problems. You can’t train how you would like because you always have an issue. At my age, you have to say that’s enough. You can’t keep on going strong until you are 50. I’ll do something else.
“My future? I still don’t know. I will go back to Italy in December. Being Antonio Conte’s assistant coach? People say a lot of things… I have some ideas, but I will give myself some time in order to decide. Many of my former teammates have chosen the bench like Sandor Nesta, Rino Gattuso, Pippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko? And also Grosso, Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Brocchi and Oddo.
“If I think of coaching? It isn’t a given that if you’ve been a good player, you can be a good coach. You need to be dedicated and have knowledge of the pitch. There is a spark that need to be lit, and for me it still hasn’t been lit yet. If it’s better to start from below like Nesta or like Inzaghi right away with Milan? There is no right or wrong way. It depends on the opportunities that you are offered.
“If a first team calls you right away, it’s hard to refuse. I repeat: for now, I don’t have that intention. After 25 years of football, I will be at home with my family. To keep fit I’ll play golf and tennis.
“Italy’s draw against Macedonia? Unfortunately, it was quite bad. It was important to get a result and you could feel the tension. In the end, it was a match full of confusion and with not many ideas. If it’s wrong to use the word ‘catastrophe’ or ‘apocalypse’ in case of a non-qualification? I don’t know. Surely it would be disastrous for the development of the national team and for the players whose ultimate ambition is going to the World Cup. But there are still the play-offs, hopefully things can be settled.
“There’s talk of a crisis after two eliminations from the group stage of the last two World Cups? Italian football is not sick. It’s true that we have had two bad exits from the World Cup, but in the middle we had two great Euro campaigns with a final and a good showing in France. With a little more luck, we could have gone right to the end in France. It can happen that you go out early like we saw in South Africa [in 2010] and in Brazil [in 2014], even though it’s not normal for a country like Italy.
“There is currently a changing of the guard that happened with Germany, France and Spain as well. Once it’s over, you will have a more prolific period and start winning again. Little space is given to young players in Italy? I don’t agree. If one is good, young or old, he always plays in Italy and abroad.
“Who I like? Other than Insigne and Verratti who are already mature now, among the top prospects I would put Andrea Belotti, Federico Bernardeschi, Daniele Rugani, Mattia Caldara, Andrea Conti and Gagliardini. Having the new Totti or Del Piero will not be easy. It will need time and we have to hope these boys, little by little, will become champions. If you’re a champion it can be recognized at 18.
“If Ancelotti’s sacking surprised me [he was fired from Bayern Munich, said he won’t coach another team this year]? Yes, especially because it seems as though the players wanted his head, since he’s always been a master in locker room relations. It’s strange. One of his stature sent away so quickly…
“And what if Montella is fired [the club does not intend to do so, at least at the moment]? I hope not. Milan have a new team. It’s hard to put together 20 players. It takes time and faith even if the results don’t come immediately. There is a project there and it needs to be taken forward. The many changes they have made in the dugout previously, for me, don’t seem to have given them results.
“If the Bonucci criticism is just [the media has been targeting the 30-year-old, labelling him as a Flop]? No. It’s normal that for now he isn’t playing as he did for Juventus. He only started a short time ago, playing for a different club with different teammates and a different formation. He is the best defender in Italy and one of the strongest in Europe, but even he needs time to adapt.
“If I like Maurizio Sarri? Very much. Napoli are the one that play the best in Italy are one of the best in Europe, seeing them on the pitch is pure fun. Juve are still the strongest even without Dani Alves [who left Juventus to join Paris Saint-Germain] and Bonucci? Yes, they are. And they are aware that they are. They are full of good players, they will win the Scudetto and go far in Europe.
“Inter? I’m looking at them with interest, they will do well. I like Luciano Spalletti and also the Nerazzurri need time to understand what he asks. For now, they do not excite but they get the result. They don’t concede, which is already a lot in Italy and then sooner or later someone scores. Spalletti knows how to put his men on the field and keep them in line and that’s important. When you have the locker room in your hand, those who want to play know that must deserve it and work.”
After the international break, Milan take on Inter at Stadio San Siro for the Derby. The encounter, which is hosted by the Nerazzurri, is very important for the Diavolo, who come off 2 straight defeats.