The Offside Book Review – Italy’s Andrea Pirlo looks back as he stands in the autumn of his career

By Paul Dargan. In a new feature on the site, we review some of the latest football books to hit the shelves. This week, Paul Dargan focuses on the autobiography of one of the finest footballers of his generation, and a man who is soon to hang up his international boots.

I Think, Therefore I Play by Andrea Pirlo

Knowing the player and having followed his career – spent entirely in his homeland of Italy – I couldn’t wait to read this nook. Andrea Pirlo is known for his calmness on the pitch, his coolness in terms of style (many women who weren’t fans of football during the European Championships of 2012 suddenly took to their Twitter accounts to proudly proclaim a fondness for the new man in their life – mainly because of his stunning facial hair) and his achievements within the game. The man is an icon of football.

The foreword briefly sums Pirlo up; penned by the man who will coach the Italians in the 2014 World Cup – Cesar Prandelli. It shows how much the midfielder is adored by all those around him and how long so much has been thought of him.

The early chapters are short, but extremely well-written, beginning with the end of his unbroken decade at AC Milan. Pirlo tells us how he flirted with a move to the other side in the city, Inter, who were coached by former team-mate, the Brazilian Leonardo – another man who stands out for being suave and debonair. But, as we all know he had already opted to join the most successful side in Italy. The Old Lady. Turin. Juventus. His gift from the chairman, Adriano Galliani, at the Giuseppe Mezza was an expensive Cartier pen. Resigned to the reluctant departure of Pirlo, Galliani pleaded with him not to use the pen to sign on the dotted line at Juve and while Pirlo gives a positive reaction to the “perfect comic timing” of his employer, he left slightly disappointed for the service he gave the Rossoneri.

Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta celebrate winning Serie A with AC Milan in 2011

Pirlo and Alessandro Nesta celebrate winning Serie A with AC Milan in 2011

He explains his close relationship with former Milan and Italy team-mate, Alessandro Nesta and how both of them always tell the other anything first, regardless of whether football is involved or not. The pain and downright embarrassment of losing the now infamous 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul to Liverpool is clear and it is something he still cannot bring himself to view second time around. Even the relative revenge of two years later in Athens didn’t count for much.

“The intensity of our joy was nothing compared to the deafening sound of our weaponry crashing to the ground a couple of years earlier. They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. Well, there was still a little warmth left in the corpse at that stage and, as such, we celebrated but didn’t forget. We wanted to, but couldn’t. The stain remained.”

There are some parts of incredible humour within the book; him and Italian national colleagues winding up Genaro Gattuso until they are stabbed with dinner forks, his eureka moment of solving the free-kick riddle of former Lyon and Brazil set-piece expert, Juninho Pernambucano…when on the toilet, and the kit manager’s anger and frustration at the loss of many footballs in Pirlo’s attempts to crack the puzzle. There’s also his ribbing of Juve team-mate, Alessandro Matri for being a  hypochondriac.

Andrea Pirlo has criticised the press for the constant attention placed on Italy forward Mario Balotelli, insisting the player must be left in peace

Andrea Pirlo has criticised the press for the constant attention placed on Italy forward Mario Balotelli, insisting the player must be left in peace

But there is a serious side to Andrea Pirlo and his chapter on Mario Balotelli and other black players  having to deal with racism from the stands and the many different ‘Ultra’ factions in Italy, is truly compelling.

It is such a straight-forward read – accompanied by footnotes at the end of each chapter, explaining any intricacies or references made within – which makes it an enjoyable one and perfectly reflects a player of such class; one who will go down in history as one of the greatest of his generation.

four_half-stars_0

Price: RRP £9.99

Published: April 2014

Publisher: BackPage Press

Got a book you’d like us to review? Get in touch by leaving a comment below or getting in touch with Paul directly!

Read more from Paul Dargan here!

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