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Pirlo: A people’s player, Italy’s creative hub and silent leader

He stunned an intimidating full house in Dortmund threading a pass to Fabio Grosso that put Italy ahead against Germany in the semifinal. With droopy eyelids and a beard, Pirlo looks more like a poet than a footballer. He certainly plays with the imagination of one.
By HT Correspondent | Agencies, Rome
UPDATED ON MAY 19, 2014 12:42 AM IST

He stunned an intimidating full house in Dortmund threading a pass to Fabio Grosso that put Italy ahead against Germany in the semifinal. Last year, the notoriously difficult to please Maracana crowd gave him rapturous reception when Italy met Mexico in the Confederations Cup in what was his 100th international appearance. A special occasion demanded a special performance and Andrea Pirlo obliged with a stunning 30-metre free-kick.

With droopy eyelids and a beard, Pirlo looks more like a poet than a footballer pulling the strings for Italy. He certainly plays with the imagination of one. Current Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola wanted him to embellish the tiki-taka style of passing football he was getting Barcelona to play, Pirlo has said in his autobiography appropriately titled ‘I Think Therefore I Play.’

“Andrea Pirlo is a player who belongs to everyone. Guys like him should be a protected species ... fans look at him and see a universal champion. Pirlo brings people together because he IS football... The message is that sometimes even normal guys can be truly exceptional,” wrote Italy coach Cesare Prandelli in that book.

Pirlo’s elegant, unhurried and thoughtful style and his favoured role as a deep-lying playmaker makes him something of a rarity in modern football. He retains the ability to spray 40-metre passes over and through the opposing defence even if there have been recent occasions when he has been harried out of his stride.

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