Five incredible Andrea Pirlo stories – including Roy Hodgson’s “****head” jibe

Andrea Pirlo achieved almost everything a world class footballer could hope to during his 22-year career.

The playmaker represented Italy’s three biggest clubs – Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus – on his way to winning six Serie A titles, two Champions leagues and even a World Cup in 2006.

After retiring in 2017, Pirlo took up his first management role last season as Juventus boss, where he secured Champions League football despite the side going through a rebuild.

And across the midfield magician’s exemplary career, there were bound to be a number of memorable characters and stories that popped up, which he aptly describes in his autobiography: I think therefore I play.

Daily Star Sport brings you some of Pirlo’s most fascinating tales from his time as a player.

Move to Barcelona

Pirlo recalled a time before his move from AC Milan to Juventus where he was pursued by Barcelona at the peak of their powers.

The regista claimed Pep Guardiola, who was manager at the time, once threw a sales pitch at him for half-an-hour which left him “shaken in a positive way.”

Having met at the Nou Camp, Guardiola said: “We’re looking for a midfielder to alternate with Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and [Sergio] Busquets, and that midfielder is you. You’ve got all the attributes to play for Barcelona and one in particular – you’re world class.”

The Barca boss added: “You know what, Andrea: we’ve made this approach because that’s how we do things round here. We don’t waste time.”

Unfortunately, Milan decided against selling Pirlo despite discussions going on for “a while”, thus preventing potentially one of the greatest transfers of the era.

Nesta’s World Cup nightmare

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The iconic midfielder’s book is filled with several golden moments between teammates, including an attempt to cheer up roommate Alessandro Nesta at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Following Nesta’s immediate injury in the group stages, Pirlo and a young Daniele De Rossi were allowed a night out by manager Marcello Lippi to cheer up the tearful defender.

When coming back from dinner in Dusseldorf, the trio, along with Andrea Barzagli, almost crashed on the motorway after wrongly telling Nesta they had gone the wrong way.

Having pulled off a 100mph U-turn, they then found themselves stranded and lost in a “ghostly” German field without lights.

A panicking Nesta apparently fumed: “F*** me, it’s bad enough that I have to read in the papers every day that I’m losing it. Now they’re going to write that I’m the first Italy player to go missing in action during a World Cup.”

Offering Gattuso’s sister

AC Milan teammate and hard-man Gennaro Gattuso was not the kind of person anyone would want to cross, though Pirlo and his team-mates made a habit of endlessly trolling the midfielder.

Aside from calling him slurs and soaking him with fire extinguishers, Pirlo on one occasion took it too far by stealing Gattuso’s phone and sending texts to Milan general manager Ariedo Braida.

With Gattuso waiting for his contract to be renewed, Pirlo wrote to Braida as his teammate: “Dear Ariedo, if you give me what I want, you can have my sister.”

The various incidents ensured both he and De Rossi received beatings on a regular basis.

Pirlo compared being chased by Gattuso to a lion, saying: “When the guy on your shoulder is Gattuso and he’s out to do you harm, you can run as hard as you like but he always catches you.”

Meeting Antonio Conte

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte made a huge impression on Pirlo when he arrived at Juventus in the summer of 2011.

On his first meeting with the players, Pirlo remembered being won over immediately by Conte’s brutal words.

Berating the side’s performances over the previous two seasons, the manager ended his speech by telling the players: “It’s time to stop being c*ap.”

Pirlo went on to add that winning the Scudetto at the first time of asking was all down to Conte, saying: “I was expecting him to be good, but not this good. He’s never happy – there’s always some small detail that’s not quite right in his mind.”

But one thing the Italian maestro regretted was sitting close to the dressing room door at half-time, with it supposedly being “the most dangerous spot in the whole of Turin” due to Conte hurling various items at the wall.

Roy Hodgson’s “d***head” jibe

Retired former England boss Roy Hodgson was one of four managers to coach Pirlo at Inter Milan in the 1998/99 season.

Hodgson’s second tenure as Inter boss was short and unremarkable, and his only reference in the autobiography was his insistence on mispronouncing Pirlo’s name as “Pirla.”

And in doing so, Hodgson repeatedly called the midfielder a “d***head” by accident.

Seeing the funny side of the ex-Crystal Palace manager’s error, Pirlo admitted: “Perhaps he understood my true nature more than the other managers.”

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