Ciao, Pirlo

I have made no secret of the fact that I am completely devastated by Andrea Pirlo leaving AC Milan after 10 glorious years. People have often teased about how he looks “sleepy” or “stoned” all the time, but I have never heard anyone question his skills or deny that he is pure class, on and off of the pitch.

Maybe a few words will help express why I am so heartbroken. Not only has Pirlo been at Milan for 10 years, for me, he has always personified the beauty in the beautiful game. He has the ability to make it look like time is standing still when he has the ball. And he moves with an elegance and effortlessness that is simply a joy to watch.

Speaking of joy in watching, he is definitely most known for his exquisite set pieces. Around here, the saying goes that he can put the ball on a dime from anywhere on the pitch, and he has virtually proven that true time and time again. Not only does he have pinpoint accuracy, each free kick or corner is a breathtaking work of art. His work is truly pleasurable to watch for everyone from the casual to hardcore fan, and his reputation extends well beyond Milan.

Secondly, I would say that he is known for being “the Metronome,” for his ability to dictate the rhythm of the game from the midfield. He has an incredible vision for the game from his preferred deep-lying playmaker position, and a fluid playing style that allows him to dictate and create plays with his perfect passes. Also, he is a calming influence in the heart of the pitch, which helps his teammates to focus and see what he sees, while seemingly hypnotizing opponents and thus maintaining possession. Milan could not ask for a better “Maestro” in the midfield.

For me, one of his lesser known yet perhaps most important skills is his pass completion rate. During his time at Milan, he has demonstrated this skill by successfully passing to even his lesser skilled teammates, which sometimes is truly is an amazing feat. But honestly, he passes a lot. Some stats imply that during one season at Milan, he personally averaged 90 passes per game. (Now we know where Berlusconi is getting his crazy ideas from!) When he first came back from injury late this season, during the less than 20 minutes he played, he had an impressive 100% pass completion rate. This is a skill that is overlooked and undervalued, much like Pirlo himself. But if you have a player who can complete passes so consistently, you are guaranteed a high possession rate, which inevitably wins games.

Many do not realize that Pirlo was a “rescue” from cross-town rivals Inter Milan. Unable to get first team play with the Nerazzurri, he had been loaned out to Reggina and Brescia before Milan came calling in 2001 and saw something they liked. And what an eye they had, to spot such a valuable diamond in the rough.

The rest is history. Carlo Ancelotti had the vision to put him in the deep-lying playmaker role, and for 10 years, Pirlo has masterfully created pinpoint passes, exquisite set pieces, and spectacular goals for Milan. He has also been a first class teammate on and off the pitch, as well as a loving husband and father of two children. If the Rossoneri rescued him, he elevated their play to a heavenly level, bringing elegance, class, and crazy mad skills to the team for 10 years.

His team successes with Milan now include 2 Scudetti, 2 Champions League trophies, a Coppa Italia and a Super Coppa Italia trophy, 2 UEFA Super Cups, and a FIFA Club World Cup trophy. Before the final match with Udinese on Sunday, Galliani presented him with a medal for his 400+ Serie A appearances with Milan, 400+ matches that will not soon be forgotten by Milan fans.

But all good things must come to an end, even if this one seemed premature and maybe a bit disrespectful to such a unique and loved player. The day before his 32 birthday, Pirlo announced that he would be leaving Milan by mutual consent. Amidst all of the speculation, the move seems largely tactical, as Allegri’s formation does not really have room for Pirlo’s signature position. And Pirlo needs consistent first team action to maintain his berth on the National Team.

It hurts the same, though, no matter the reasons. I never thought I would see Pirlo in anything but the red and black, he is so synonymous with the Milan I know and love. So with a heavy heart, I am preparing to see him as an opponent next year. This is one breakup I don’t think I will ever get over.

Grazie, Andrea. You will always have a place in this Rossonero heart.

This post brought to you by the musical inspiration of Elaine’s “heartbreak mix:” 
The Cure, Muse, Depeche Mode, INXS, The Smiths, Hurts, Radiohead, U2, etc.

Ciao, Pirlo Ciao, Pirlo Reviewed by Elaine on 3:54 AM Rating: 5
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