Pirlo Book: The Number 10 extracts

Juventus Roma playmaker

I Think Therefore I Play

The English version of Andrea Pirlo’s wonderful autobiography has been finally released in the UK through BackPage Press, and to celebrate we’ve been sent a few choice snippets from the book as the Juventus playmaking maestro reveals his thoughts on numerous fellow playmakers and number 10s.

Read about who he worshiped growing up, who gives him a hard time during matches, and who were his free-kick inspirations as he chases the Serie A dead-ball goalscoring record.

Pirlo on Francesco Totti:

It’s always the same – every game I’ll leave the pitch with a load of bruises. I’ve even had Francesco Totti taking aim at me in a match we played against Roma. Every so often he does go off on one, but at least he apologised afterwards.

The foul he committed really wasn’t like him and I’m sure he didn’t do it deliberately. I certainly don’t have any issue with him now.

Pirlo on Lothar Mätthaus and Roberto Baggio:

My absolute idol was Lothar Mätthaus. He was the No.10 who scored the goals and inspired the rest – for me, there was nobody better. The time I met him on holiday in Viareggio and got his autograph was for a long while the best and most important day of my life.

After Mätthaus came Roberto Baggio. Just as well I had a big bedroom, so that both their posters would fit on the wall and I didn’t have to pick which god to pull down from Mount Olympus.

Pirlo on free-kick taking No.10s:

Back in those days, I’d buy the Gazzetta dello Sport just to get my hands on the videos they sold with the paper showing the best free-kicks from the great No.10s. I’d press play and Baggio, Zico and Platini would spring into action.

Great invention, the remote control – one push of a button and your imagination runs wild.

Pirlo on Alessandro Del Piero:

After his penultimate appearance in a Juventus jersey (a home game against Atalanta in May 2012), he was finally overwhelmed by all the emotions he’d managed to keep a lid on up till then. His ego, his desire to be involved, that need to feel like a true bianconero. He flooded the dressing room with tears, and we did the same, both with him and for him.

And then we said goodbye before he headed off to Sydney. Alessandro chose the other side of the world to start over and carry on his career. It couldn’t have gone any other way, really. If he’d stayed in Italy or moved to another league close by, he’d have just ended up feeling terribly homesick. Juventus is an almost physical attraction for him: it’s like putting one magnet next to another.

Pirlo on Juninho Pernambucano:

During his time at Lyon, that man made the ball do some quite extraordinary things. He’d lay it on the ground, twist his body into a few strange shapes, take his run-up and score. He never got it wrong. Never. I checked out his stats and realised it couldn’t just be chance. He was like an orchestra conductor who’d been assembled upside down, with the baton held by his feet instead of his hands. He’d give you the thumbs up by raising his big toe – somebody at Ikea was having a good laugh the day they put him together. I studied him intently, collecting DVDs, even old photographs of games he’d played. And eventually I understood.

You can read even more by purchasing the book through Amazon, or other good bookshops.

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