'When I saw him play it made me think I had to change profession' - Gattuso on Pirlo retirement
Former AC Milan and Italy midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has said that watching Andrea Pirlo play football made him consider a career change.
Gattuso and Pirlo played alongside each other for a decade at AC Milan, and before that at Italian underage level, where Gattuso said that Pirlo always made him look like a better player than he actually was.
When Gattuso was asked on Radio 24 if his defensive capabilities had allowed Pirlo to blossom in a similar fashion, the former Italy midfielder dismissed the suggestion as nonsense.
“Don’t talk nonsense, let’s not confuse Nutella with shit,” the Milan Primavera boss replied.
“When I saw him play it made me think I had to change profession. Nobody knows that better than me, because I started playing with him at Italy Under-15 level and then all the youth teams after that.
“It wasn’t only about his quality, but he was an animal covering 1000 metres, he had this athletic quality which is why he played until this age .
“He was someone who ran so much.
“I played with him for about 20 years when you consider the national youth teams, in difficult moments I just gave it to him, I always felt assured when I was next to him.
“I understood what I had to do, and he was taking care of the rest. He helped me much more in my career than I did him.
"In the dressing room? He’s a big son of a… With all due respect to his mother! He teased me for months, he was very funny. I punched him more times than Bud Spencer did Terrence Hill!"
Pirlo came on as a late substitute for New York City in the club's 2-0 win over Columbus Crew on Sunday, the day before he announced his retirement from football.
“Not only my adventure in NY comes to an end, but my journey as a football player as well,” Pirlo wrote on his Twitter account.
“That is why I would like to take the opportunity to thank my family and my children for the support and love they always give me, every team that I had the honour to play for, every team-mate I have been pleased to play alongside, all the people that made my career so incredible, and last but not least, all the fans around the world that always showed me support.
“You will always be on my side and in my heart.”
Tributes poured in for the 38-year-old with Frank Lampard calling him a 'class' player while recently retired Roma captain Francesco Totti said that it was an honour to play with the three-time Serie A Player of the Year.
I’ve learned as much from you as a player as a human being, grazie Maître Pirlo @Pirlo_official— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) November 7, 2017