Two-time winner Andrea Pirlo is the latest UEFA Champions League centurion under the spotlight.
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"No Pirlo, No Party". One of the most majestic midfielders of his generation, Andrea Pirlo was as cool off the field as he was on it. A two-time UEFA Champions League winner with the Rossoneri, the former Italian international – a FIFA World Cup winner in 2006 – oozed class throughout a career which included spells with both Milan giants as well as Juventus and New York City.
Best performance: winner (2003, 2007)
If you don't remember him ...
'Keep calm and pass the ball to Pirlo' was written on a very popular t-shirt among Juventus fans during his four-year spell with the Bianconeri and it is a sentence that explains his style better than anything else. Always relaxed on the ball, even in the most difficult situations, Pirlo was the ideal deep-lying playmaker. He had the ability to read the game perfectly, dictate the tempo and pick out any pass on the pitch efficiently and effectively. Add amazing precision and craft from dead balls and you have one of the most appreciated midfield maestros in the history of the game.
How he made it to 100 appearances
Pirlo started his career at hometown club Brescia but his skills were quickly noticed by Inter. Still playing as a fantasista behind two fowards, Pirlo failed to make his mark with the Nerazzurri. A loan spell back at Brescia, however, changed his career completely. Carlo Mazzone transformed him into a deep-lying regista and Carlo Ancelotti then brought him to Milan the following summer.
In ten brilliant seasons with the Rossoneri, Pirlo won the UEFA Champions League twice and several other trophies. Many thought his best days were behind him when he joined Juventus in 2011 but they were wrong. He continued to shine, winning the Scudetto four times and reaching the 2015 UEFA Champions League final with the Bianconeri.
His best moments
- The fulcrum of Milan in only his second season, Pirlo called the tune for a Rossoneri midfield featuring Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and Rui Costa. He helped Milan beat his former side Inter in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League semi-finals then overcome Juventus on penalties in another all-Italian affair in the Manchester showpiece.
- Pirlo admittedly considered quitting football after that famous defeat in the 2005 final against Liverpool in Istanbul – instead he spearheaded a sweet revenge. His free-kick, which was diverted in by Filippo Inzaghi, broke the deadlock and helped the Rossoneri beat Liverpool 2-1 in Athens two years later.
- After famously receiving a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in 2013, Pirlo helped Juventus reach the 2015 UEFA Champions League final with a 1-1 draw in the same stadium sealing a 3-2 aggregate success.
What others said about him
"When we were young and I was watching what he could do with the ball in training. I asked myself if I should really consider myself a footballer or I should change my job."
Gennaro Gattuso, former Milan team-mate
"When I saw him playing, I thought to myself 'God exists'."
Gianluigi Buffon, former Juventus team-mate
"Pirlo is a silent leader, he makes his feet do the talking."
Marcello Lippi, former Italy coach