Andrea Pirlo announced his retirement from professional football on Monday after a glittering two decades at the top and his former Juventus team-mate Paul Pogba was among the many who paid a tribute to the classy midfielder.
Pirlo, who started off as a central attacking midfielder, reinvented himself as a deep-lying playmaker towards the latter stages of his career.
The Italian came through the ranks at Brescia before making his Serie A breakthrough with them in 1995. A move to Inter Milan followed, but the 5’9 Pirlo truly came into his own after a high-profile transfer to derby rivals AC Milan in 2001.
Pirlo would then go on to win the Serie A (2004 and 2011) and the UEFA Champions League (2003, 2007) twice during his time with the Red and Black half of Milan. He would also add the FIFA World Cup in 2006 with Italy to his trophy cabinet, as the Azzurri stunned everyone to lift the biggest prize in world football.
After spending a decade with the Rossoneri, Pirlo had firmly established himself as one of the finest midfielders on the planet but Milan perplexingly allowed the veteran to depart to Juventus on a free transfer in 2011 as they sought to forgo experienced talents in favour of youth prospects.
And it was in Turin when Pogba and Pirlo would meet.
At opposite ends of their respective careers, the duo enjoyed a trophy-laden four seasons with the Bianconeri before the Frenchman shattered the world transfer record with a £86 million switch to Premier League side Manchester United in 2016.
The duo were an integral part of the Juventus side that dominated Italian football with back-to-back Scudettos and reached the UEFA Champions League Final in 2015.
The tall and powerful Pogba proved to the perfect foil for the classy Pirlo, who would dictate the tempo of the game with his expansive range of passing and it’s no surprise that Pogba looks up to a player 14 years his senior.