Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images
Italy legend Andrea Pirlo has confirmed he will retire from football at the end of the current Major League Soccer season when his New York City FC contract expires.
The 38-year-old midfielder told Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Dev Trehan of Sky Sports News) that this season would be his last before hanging up his boots, with the great man expressing doubts about his physicality at this point in his career.
“You just realise that the time has come,” he said. “Every day you have physical problems, you cannot train as you like because you always have some stuff. At my age, that’s enough. It’s not that you can go on forever to 50. I’ll do something else.”
When Pirlo does walk away from playing he’ll leave behind a legacy few can match in the modern era. Squawka Football summed up what has been an incredible career:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Happy retirement, Andrea Pirlo.
755 club games 🏃🏻
116 senior caps 🇮🇹
86 goals ⚽️
17 trophies 🏆
One of the coolest to ever do it. 😎 https://t.co/xmesLx309s
Pirlo enjoyed his first major successes with AC Milan, where he was at the crux of Carlo Ancelotti’s tremendous side. The playmaker won two Serie A titles at the San Siro, as well as two UEFA Champions League trophies.
When he left Milan on a free transfer in 2011 it appeared as though his playing days were winding down, though Serie A rivals Juventus snapped up the Italian and he continued to perform at the highest level.
GIUSEPPE CACACE/Getty Images
In Turin he was sensational, playing some of the best football of his career in a four-year spell that saw the Bianconeri dominate Italian football, winning the Scudetto on four successive occasions. The Juvefc.com Twitter account hailed his role in the Bianconeri’s recent renaissance, as well as his longevity in the game:
Pirlo will end his playing career in December. What a difference he made to the Juve regeneration. Forever grateful maestro @Pirlo_official https://t.co/bydCzdhI5k
And like any footballing icon, Pirlo has excelled on the international stage too. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup he was imperious for Italy, turning in a man-of-the-match performance in the tournament final against France and helping his team to the ultimate footballing glory.
What has made Pirlo such a popular figure with so many fans was the swagger and style in which he’s played the game. There’s an impudence about the Italian, as he dominated matches with ease during his heyday. Few have made the beautiful game look so easy on the eye and so easy to master.
Pirlo will be hopeful of finishing his career on a high with NYCFC, who are well on course to secure a playoff place in the Eastern Conference of MLS.