Pirlo joins New York City from Juventus
Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo, one of the most elegant and distinctive players of his generation, is to join New York City FC from Serie A champions Juventus later this month.
"I have been wanting this experience for a long time and now that the opportunity materialised I wanted to take it," Pirlo told New York's website (www.nycfc.com) on Monday.
The 36-year-old, who has never played for a club outside Italy, won Serie A titles in each of his four seasons at Juve after quitting AC Milan in 2011.
"I had several opportunities to play outside Italy but I never had a doubt in picking New York for the enthusiasm of the people that come to watch the team," added Pirlo.
"I met with the coach, Jason Kreis, and he gave me a fantastic impression of the club. He has well defined ideas in mind and I am sure we will get on well and create a good relationship to train well and try to win together."
Described by former Italy coach Marcello Lippi as a "silent leader", Pirlo can still change the course of a game with one slide-rule pass or a majestic free kick although the odd sign of vulnerability has crept in during the last two seasons.
He gifted Cesena a goal after losing possession in his own half during one match last season, suggesting it may be timely to end his Serie A and Champions League career.
Never the happiest-looking of characters with his long, droopy face, Pirlo now sports a beard that gives him a striking resemblance to action-film actor Chuck Norris in his younger days.
Pirlo spent 10 years at Milan where he won two Serie A and two Champions League titles.
He has played 115 times for Italy, winning a World Cup winners' medal in 2006 and helping them reach the Euro 2012 final.
"Nobody could question that in Pirlo we are bringing one of the best in the world and one of the finest players to come to MLS (Major League Soccer)," said Kreis.
"Like (Spain's) David Villa, his final game in Europe was the Champions League final, which demonstrates a player competing at the highest level of our sport."
"We are getting a player with a competitive spirit and a winning mentality," added Kreis.
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