Andrea Pirlo confirms “I’ll stop soon” as it’s better to retire “when you decide, not when others tell you to”.
The former Juventus, Inter and Milan midfielder is now 37, and has just one year left on his contract with MLS side New York City FC.
“I haven’t really decided yet what I’ll do after my career,” Pirlo admitted, speaking to L’Équipe.
“I need to think about what’s best for me, whether that’s to be a Coach or a director or something else.
“I don’t when I’ll stop, I have another year on my contract with New York City so we’ll see how I feel at the end of this season.
“But it’s sure that I’ll stop soon.
“Of course I’d like to play for another 10 years, because I have fun doing it and playing football is the most beautiful thing I do.
“But you get to an age where you have to ask yourself the question: do I keep playing at a high level, as a protagonist, the way I’ve always done? Or do I keep going and be one among many others? I don’t like that.
“It’s better to stop when you decide, rather than when others tell you to.
“Did I ever think I was the best player in the world? No, I never thought that. Ever. Being number one in your head, on the pitch is one thing.
“But feeling like number one and saying ‘I’m better than everyone’ is something I don’t like. I’m not interested in that.
“What counts is being number one for yourself, and being important to the team.”
Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard both retired recently after spells in MLS, is an era of football coming to an end?
“Without a doubt the era of players born in the 70s and 80s is coming to an end. But in football, when one era ends another one opens up.
“There are young people who are growing, but I’m very sorry to see the end of a lot of top players who gave huge emotions to the football world, or have done so in recent years.
“Players come and go, we stop and only the clubs remain.
“It was our time, we came up in that era and so we have affection for it. For us it was the best.
“Maybe we’ll grow old and there will be another generation which will be better and we’ll talk about that one.
“[Paolo] Maldini, [Roberto] Baggio, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, [David] Beckham… that was my era. The one I most like to talk about, to remember.”
Is their an heir to Pirlo in the current crop of players?
“There are a lot of good players in that role, but for the moment they don’t look like me. I can’t find my way of playing in anyone I see today, unfortunately. If someone came along, I’d welcome him.
“I’m not a proud person, I don’t think about what makes me special, it’s you guys who say it. But I’m glad you say so.
“When I watch matches on TV, I see the position I play in and there are players who don’t understand certain things. Sometimes I think I could have done something other than what I just saw.
“I always wanted to have the ball. Often my teammates would say: ‘You can’t get through, there’s an opponent behind you or near you’.
“I’d say: ‘give it to me anyway!’. For me it’s important to have control of the game, I need to touch the ball to feel like I’m at the centre of the game.
“When it comes to my feet, I already know where to give it to, where to pass it. That’s what gives me the strength to say: ‘just give it to me, there will be no problem’.
“On the pitch I want to be the player who controls the team, the game. That’s one thing I feel deep inside me, if I’m not at the centre of the game then I can’t feel complete.”