In just a few hours, Andrea Pirlo will join an illustrious group of Italian legends as he earns his 100th cap for the Azzurri. Kyle Hulme takes a look back over his career and achievements so far…
Of all the places for a footballer to earn his 100th cap for his country, few are as fitting as the Estadio do Maracano; a stadium that once hosted a World Cup Final, saw Pele’s 1000th goal and has witnessed countless world-class players grace its surface. It seems a perfect place for Andrea Pirlo to celebrate this own landmark occasion.
Yet, considering his present status as one of the world’s most cultured and effective playmakers, it’s strange to think that in the past there were many who never imagined he would get this far.
Regardless of where he would eventually end up, Pirlo achieved immortality early on in the football canon for his role in Roberto Baggio’s wondergoal whilst playing for Brescia – perhaps the first glimpse the world saw of his long, sculpted passes. Having impressed during his time in Lombardy, he was spotted by Internazionale who signed him in 1998.
During his first stint in Milan with Inter, Pirlo struggled to cement his place, playing further up the field in a role just behind the front man. Though he struggled at club level in this more advanced role, he won the U-21 European Championship with Italy, finishing the tournament as the top scorer in his role as a #10. Loans to Reggina and a return to Brescia followed before he was signed by cross-city rivals AC Milan in 2001 – the club where he became the player we know today. Continue reading