Andrea Pirlo said it was time to retire.
By Michael Lewis
In what should be no surprise to many New York City FC supporters and Italian soccer fans, Andrea Pirlo has decided to hang them up after this season.
The former Italian international midfielder announced Sunday that he will call it a career after the current Major League Soccer season ends, whether that be in October, November or December.
“You realize that the time has come,” Pirlo told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Every day you have physical problems, you cannot train as you want because you always have some problem. At my age, that’s enough. It’s not that you can go on forever until the age of 50. I’ll do something else. At 38, it’s just right to give young players room. I’m not angry. Instead, I will give a hand to teammates and to the coach.”
Pirlo, 38, went from a regular to a spot starter and part-time player this season. He rarely was the first choice for the midfielder under head coach Patrick Vieira, usually seeing action in the second half of the season when Maxi Moralex, Alex Ring or Yangel Herrera were injured or heard yellow-card suspensions.
In 1,085 minutes over 15 matches and 14 starts with NYCFC this season, Pirlo hasn’t scored a goal, but has registered two assists. The team is 4-7-3 with him in the Starting XI.
The nadir of his season, and perhaps his MLS career came in the 44th minute of City’s 1-0 home loss to the Portland Timbers Sept. 9.
Pirlo had the ball on the left side, but Darren Maddocks nicked it away from him and bolted down the flank. The unmarked Jamaica international crossed the ball into an open Diego Valerio, who struck a 13-yard shot into the left corner while defender RJ Allen ran to deny him. But it was too late as Valeri tied a league mark by scored in his seventh consecutive game.
Prior to the season, this reporter asked Pirlo if he was going to retire.
“For me, no change,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be my last season. I came to play, to play well for the club. When will be the time, I will decide the future.”
Asked whether he would like to return to NYC FC or go back to Italy, Pirlo replied, “I don’t know. I don’t know. … I don’t know what will be my future. It is important to play well. After this year, I will cotninue to play or [go] back to Italy.”
The one-time AC Milan and Juventus standout joined NYCFC midway through its 2015 expansion season. He has one goal and 18 assists in 60 regular season appearances with NYCFC.
Pirlo has secured six Serie A championships, two UEFA Champions League titles and the 2006 World Cup.
He has played 118 times for the Italian national side.