Marcello Lippi is confident Andrea Pirlo will succeed as Juventus coach, because he was ‘born to do everything’ and is following Zinedine Zidane’s footsteps in many respects.
The former Inter, Milan and Juventus midfielder has surprisingly been thrown straight in at the deep end with the Juve job in his first managerial role, replacing Maurizio Sarri.
“Andrea was born to do everything, not just be a coach,” World Cup winning Italy boss Lippi told La Gazzetta dello Sport magazine Sportweek.
“He’s capable of just about anything. It makes me smile what people generally think about Pirlo, such as that he’s quiet and sulky, but I can assure you he’s one of the biggest jokers around.
“When he was a player, everyone thought he couldn’t defend and needed a protective midfielder next to him, but the truth is he was very difficult to get past, because he had physical strength, power and a great sense of position. Juve realised he has qualities and charisma outside the norm.”
Pirlo is only 41 years old and therefore younger than Juventus goalkeeper Gigi Buffon, but Lippi sees this as an advantage.
“He is still like the great champions who are playing now, so he can talk on level terms with Cristiano Ronaldo and Giorgio Chiellini, like a colleague. Zidane was similar when he took over at Real Madrid, so perhaps Juve need someone with those characteristics at this moment in time.
“Zidane didn’t bring any technical, tactical or training innovations to Real Madrid. He just made the squad feel calm, used the best players in the ideal conditions to give their best. And he won everything.
“Like Zidane, Pirlo retired from football and took three years to think carefully about what he really wanted to do next in life. I was having lunch with Zidane and his agent-friend Migliaccio in Ibiza when he confessed: ‘I want to try as a coach.’ Andrea has done the same.
“Just like Zidane, Pirlo spent his career at top clubs, he knows the philosophy, how it feels when you win or lose, what it means to be in that environment.”
It is probably no coincidence that so many of the players Lippi worked with, both for Juventus and Italy, have gone on to become coaches in their own right.
“You could tell Pirlo was bound to become a coach, just like Didier Deschamps. Those players are basically spokesmen for the coach on the field. At times, you look at them, and they already know what you’re about to say. It’s no coincidence top midfielders are known for their tactical intelligence.”