Italy legend Andrea Pirlo given emotional send off in star-studded San Siro testimonial
Former Italy star Andrea Pirlo took to the pitch for the final time to say goodbye to football in a star-studded testimonial 'Night of the Master' tournament at the San Siro on Monday
Milan: Former Italy star Andrea Pirlo took to the pitch for the final time to say goodbye to football in a star-studded testimonial "Night of the Master" tournament at the San Siro on Monday.
Champions and former teammates from all over the world – from Paolo Maldini to Gianluigi Buffon, and Roberto Baggio to Frank Lampard – joined the retiring legend to celebrate the final act of a glittering career.
"I thank my friends and all the people who came to the stadium to enjoy a fantastic evening of entertainment, sport and charity," the 39-year-old said as he received a standing ovation from 50,000 fans.
Towards the end of the match which finished 7-7 with a hat-trick from former AC Milan and Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi, Pirlo gave his place to his 15-year-old son Nicolo, also a midfielder and who plays for Juventus's youth team.
"He has fun and I'm happy, he must be happy to play football, it's the best thing in the world, in the future we'll see," said Pirlo.
And there was no lack of coaching talent either on the bench with former AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti leading the 'White Stars' team and Juventus's Massimiliano Allegri in charge of the 'Blue Stars'.
Italian FA vice-commissioner Alessandro Costacurta, another former AC Milan player, and who has said Pirlo could have a future role in the federation, also took to the pitch.
Pirlo said he was considering coaching.
"I have time to think about what to do. I stopped recently, I don't miss the pitch. In the future it could be coaching," he said.
"All my ex-teammates didn't want to become coaches, yet they've all done it."
Capped 116 times for Italy, Pirlo called time on his illustrious career last November after winning the 2006 World Cup, two Champions League titles and six Serie A trophies.
Pirlo began his career at Brescia and also played for Inter, AC Milan and Juventus before moving to play in New York City FC in the MLS.
"I chose May 21 because 21 is my number and I made my debut in May," said Pirlo.
Euro 2020: Unpredictable at worst, versatile at best- Italy's ability to complete renaissance will depend on potency in front of goal
Although dynamic, the Azzurri are anything but perfect; the absence of an explicit goal-scorer to lead their lines is a glaring deficiency. While Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti have had seasons when they were prolific for their respective clubs, neither have really nailed that number nine position for their national side.
Italy will advance as Group A winners if they avoid defeat against surprise Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
Euro 2020 represents a major step forward on the path toward recovery after one of the darkest chapters in the continent’s history since World War II.