In this week’s Game Breakers feature Soccer Laduma discusses whether Andrea Pirlo still has what it takes to take Italy to glory in Brazil.
Marcello Lippi once said about him: “Pirlo is a silent leader. He speaks with his feet.”
The 34-year-old is regarded as one of the best players in his position as deep-lying playmaker or regista which he plays for Juventus and Italy.
The set-piece expert has won almost everything a player can win in football – two UEFA Champions Leagues, two European Super Cups, five Seria A titles, the FIFA Club World Cup and the Coppa Italia on club level, and the 2006 FIFA World Cup with his country.
After playing for the Italian U15, U18 and U21 side, captaining and leading the latter to victory in the 2000 UEFA Under-21 Champions as best player and top scorer, he made his international debut in 2002.
He was part of the Azzurri team that won the Bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics but his greatest success came in 2006.
The then 26-year-old was voted third-best player of the tournament, winning the Bronze Ball and finished as top assist provider at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where Italy won its fourth World Cup title.
Pirlo was named Man of the Match in Italy’s opening game against Ghana, where he scored the first and assisted the second goal. In addition, he was voted Man of the Match in Italy’s semi-final triumph over Germany, assisting Fabio Grosso's opening goal late in injury-time.
In the final against France he won his third Man of the Match award for assisting the equalizer by Marco Materazzi and scoring in the penalty shootout.
Following this career climax, Pirlo and Italy experienced two group-stage exits at the 2008 EURO and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
However, Pirlo and Italy regained their strength at the 2012 EURO when they finished runners-up only beaten by Spain. The Italy vice-captain again received three Man of the Match awards and helped his team to eliminate England and Germany on their way to the final.
Pirlo proved he still has it at the 2013 Confederation Cup where he was nominated for the Golden Ball award, but failed to make the final three.
The 34-year-old is Italy’s fifth-most capped player in history with 108 appearances, in which he scored 13 goals.
He won the last two Seria A Player of the Year awards, and his performances haven’t dropped this season.
Italy are drawn with Uruguay, England and Costa Rica and will need Andrea Pirlo at his best to make it out of the group stage and far into the tournament.
Can Andrea Pirlo once more be Italy’s game breaker at the World Cup in Brazil? Have your say in the comment section below.