Our new “The Artists” collection will be launched on 15th February celebrating the exceptional skill and contribution of some of the greatest exponents of the beautiful game. There are 10 players honoured in this initial range and over the next few days our blogs will share some magical moments of artistry from each one of them.
Today we feature Pirlo.
1 – v England, Euro 2012 quarter finals, 24 June 2012
Andrea Pirlo dominated an England side who either refused to, or simply could not get anywhere near enough to stop him. A supreme display of deep-lying playmaking kept England out of the game and Roy Hodgson’s men were extremely fortunate to find themselves still in it at the end of 120 minutes of football. Pirlo made more than 100 successful passes during the course of the game. England’s best passer was Ashley Cole, left back, with 44 attempted passes.
Even at penalties, it felt as though Italy had outclassed England by such a margin that even the relative leveller of the penalty spot was irrelevant. If someone had to win, it would be Italy, and Pirlo wanted one more go at putting England in their place.
After four penalties, England were 2-1 up and on course to progress. Up stepped Pirlo, and with Joe Hart looming in goal, Pirlo simply dinked the ball down the middle with Joe Hart sprawling. The ball fell softly into the bottom of the goal as Pirlo jogged away. England missed their next penalty, lost the shoot-out 4-2, and exited the tournament.
Relive It: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXFWmpB-cPQ
2 –v Parma, Serie A, 2 October 2012
In a Milan side including Ronaldinho, Seedorf, Gattuso, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Thiago Silva and Nesta, it took something special to steal the headlines. That something was Pirlo.
Pirlo played a neat one two to earn possession in the Parma half, before getting his head up and assessing his options. He moved the ball across the pitch with a few touches, before bursting into life with a flick of his hair and a swing of his boot to smash the ball right into the top corner from all of 40 yards.
The beauty of this goal was that not only was it a 100% certified postage stamp finish, but the ball stayed completely still while in flight. The goal proved the winner, completing Milan’s first away win of the season and taking them top of Serie A. They went on to win the title.
Relive It: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0pwRmHSwCk
3 – v France, World Cup final, 9 July 2006
One of the most prevalent characteristics of Andrea Pirlo is unquestionably his level of cool; you would not know from his facial expressions whether he was buying fruit juice or taking a penalty in a World Cup final; which is exactly what he did against France to help Italy win the World Cup.
After the huge disappointment of losing the 2005 Champions League final with Milan, 2006 must have been therapeutic for Andrea. Having scored in the group stage against Ghana, Pirlo enjoyed a supreme tournament as Giovanni Trapattoni’s side went all the way to the final against France, where Pirlo contributed an assist for Marco Materazzi’s equaliser.
With the two sides inseparable throughout 120 minutes of football, Pirlo led Italy’s spot-kick line up and calmly placed the ball down the middle, well out of Fabien Barthez’s reach. Italy went on to win the shoot out, and Pirlo claimed man of the match on the biggest stage of all. Mr Cool personified.
Relive It: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuZYHmiyn3Q