The most stylish man in football is back, not as a player but as a trainer. Andrea Pirlo (41) has left his vineyard to sit on the couch at Juventus for the first time on Sunday. “Nobody expected that he would already be the trainer of a top club.”
‘Don’t bet a cent on a future as a trainer’
“Drinking a delicious wine in good company makes me just as happy as winning a great competition”, Pirlo once said in an interview to the Italian trade magazine in 2013. Great Wines.
He should have known. The most graceful pawn in Italian midfield, he became World Champion in 2006 and won the Champions League twice with AC Milan (2003 and 2007). And he was the man of the graceful panenkapenalty in the quarter finals of the European Championship 2012 against England.
“In fact, making wine is like taking a penalty kick. It seems very easy, but few people know how to do it really well,” he continued of his newfound passion.
It seemed therefore almost destined that when Pirlo retired from football in 2017, he would retire with his family to his vineyard in the hills of Brescia for good. Or not? Because three years later, the man, who almost never seemed to bother as a player, starts one of the most stressful professions in Italy: the head coach of Juventus. The first league match awaits on Sunday, at home against Sampdoria.
Pirlo sought relaxation after his football retirement. (Photo: Getty Images)
Pirlo’s football-free retirement actually only lasted a year. In 2018 he appeared in a tailored suit and with his characteristic beard as a sidekick on Sky Sport Italia. But the surprise in Italy was only really great when he started the trainer training a few months later.
“I wouldn’t bet a cent on a future as a coach. It looks too much like the work of a football player. And I have been doing that for years,” he wrote in his biography in 2014.
It shouldn’t have happened that fast either. After the start of the trainer course, ‘the architect’, as Pirlo’s nickname was, would quietly get his diplomas and develop in the lee at Juventus, the club where he played from 2011 to 2015. But in the hysterical Italian football world there was no time for that. When on August 8 trainer Maurizio Sarri was fired by the 36-time national champion, Pirlo was promptly put forward by the board.
“Pirlo had just joined Juventus under 23, but was promoted to the first team without having led a single training session,” said Italian sports journalist Andrea Saronni. “Nobody expected that he would already be the trainer of a top club.”
Pirlo after losing the Champions League final against Barcelona in 2015 (Picture: Getty Images)