Tuesday November 15 2016
Pirlo: ‘Juventus perfect for me’

Andrea Pirlo explains his decision to leave Milan for Juventus, and admits “thorn in my side” at not playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid.

The midfielder left the Rossoneri on a free transfer in 2011, signing for the Old Lady and winning four Scudetti in a row.

“I was coming off 10 years at Milan and I wasn’t motivated any more,” Pirlo recalled, speaking to Marca Plus.

“I needed another team with a new project, but still a winning one. Juve were perfect, as they hadn’t won in a long time and were making their debut in the new stadium.

“It was the best place to start building.”

Pep Guardiola wanted to bring Pirlo to Barcelona in 2010, was he an influence on a young Pirlo?

“Not really, but at that time I didn’t think I’d ever occupy his position on the pitch. I played off the strikers, and as well as [Roberto] Baggio I admired [Michel] Platini.

“Pep as a Coach? He’s number one, without a doubt. Look at what he did with Barcelona and also Bayern Munich. Above all he’s a person I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, I admire and respect him.

“How did I feel when he wanted to sign me? How could you not want to go there! We were facing the best team in the world and he told me he wanted me in the team.

“He met me in his office after the game [a pre-season friendly], we spoke for a long time. We speak quite often now, because we have mutual friends in Brescia.

“Real Madrid? Any player would like to play for them. Fabio Capello was there and there were a lot of rumours circulating about Milan’s future with the Calciopoli scandal.

“Milan wouldn’t let me go, and they gave me a new contract.

“Was I disappointed? Well, it’s true that unfortunately they wouldn’t let me leave, but at the same time I spent 10 years at Milan, winning everything there was to win.

“I also played for all of the best teams in Italy [Inter, Juventus and Milan].

“Yes I still have a thorn in my side at not having played for Real Madrid or Barcelona, because playing there is a dream for every player, but I consider myself very satisfied to have played for the best teams in Italy.”

The 37-year-old was then asked about current Barça superstar Lionel Messi.

“He’s amazing, he’s the best player in the world,” Pirlo said.

“Everything he’s done over this time is unrepeatable.

“I don’t think there will be another player like him in the coming years.”

Finally, Pirlo was asked about his penalty technique, having famously beaten England - and now Torino - goalkeeper Joe Hart with a Panenka in Euro 2012.

“You feel a lot of pressure when it’s a penalty which could decide if you win the World Cup or the Champions League.

“They’re unique moments in your life, it depends how you feel in the moment - how lucid you are, how fatigued. It weighs on you, because you know what happens could define a player’s career.

“There are a lot of players who prefer not to take penalties, with the tension and fear of making a mistake.

“My Panenkas? I can’t tell you why I respond in that way at a particular time. It’s not something you make a decision about beforehand. For me it’s a natural thing.”

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