Reading List // I Think Therefore I Play – Andrea Pirlo

One of the greatest players in the modern game, Andrea Pirlo is a World Cup and Champions League winner, but he prefers to let his feet do the talking, and it’s rare to see into the more personal side of the great midfielder.

This book, although quite short, contains many stories about his life at AC Milan and playing for Italy – which he regards as the greatest honour.

“Italy is simply more important. More important than Inter, Milan, Juventus or any other club side. it is the biggest deal there is.”

Talking about penalties he explains the moments before stepping up to take the first penalty in the World Cup Final shootout, and the pressure of a country on his shoulders.

“It means they think you are the best, but it also means that if you miss, you’re first in the line of dickheads.”

And how the defeat to Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League final in a shootout with Liverpool, and “that jackass of a keeper” Jerzy Dudek, was the only time that he thought about quitting football.

“I no longer felt like a player, and that was devastating enough. But even worse, I no longer felt like a man. All of a sudden football had become the least important thing, precisely because it was the most important: a very painful contradiction”

It was interesting to read just how close he came to leaving Milan for what would have been, at the time, huge moves in European football.

His dream move to Real Madrid, which was all but done in his head, but thrown into reverse once Milan found out.

Once, he had agreed terms with Chelsea, Berlusconi refusing to allow him to leave. Another time, after a game at the Nou Camp, getting whisked into Pep Guardiola’s office to try and be enticed to move to Barcelona.

In this day and age of footballers jumping at the chance to move to play a substandard level of football in China, enticed purely for the ridiculous wages, it was refreshing to hear how Pirlo turned the Abu Dhabis down in their quest to move him to the Middle East and build a league around him. Especially when you hear the numbers they were throwing around. Andrea explaining that moving there would signify the end, and he wasn’t done yet.

It was also good to hear his opinion on the issues in Italian football around betting rings run by the Mafia – strongly in support of lifetime bans, no second chances, for any players caught with their “hand in the till”.

Not too much depth due to the length,  but enough to feel like you know a bit more about the man – who seems to have a good sense of humour and like a practical joke or two, but undeniably a man of great talent and loyalty to those he cares about.

“Mates are there to be cared for, not questioned. You love them regardless”

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