Sport Soccer

Saturday 24 February 2018

Pirlo: 'Liverpool drank our blood ... they mentally destroyed us'

Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo
Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo

Sam Wallace reveals the best bits of the Italian legend's new book

HIMSELF

I don't feel pressure... I don't give a toss about it. I spent the afternoon of Sunday, July 9, 2006 sleeping and playing the PlayStation. In the evening, I went out and won the World Cup.

ON HIS PLAYSTATION OBSESSION

After the wheel, the PlayStation is the best invention of all time. And ever since it's existed, I've been Barcelona, apart from a brief spell way back at the start when I'd go Milan.

The head to heads (with room-mate Alessandro Nesta, 'Sandro') were pure adrenaline. I'd go Barcelona and so would Sandro. Barca v Barca... but I'd still end up losing a lot of the time. I'd get pissed off and hurl away my controller before asking for a rematch. And then I'd lose again.

ON BEING GIVEN THE FIRST PENALTY IN THE 2006 WORLD CUP FINAL SHOOT-OUT

Being first on the spot, kicking off that torture in the biggest, most incredible game that a player can play or imagine... That's not necessarily good news. It means they think you're the best, but it also means that if you miss, you're first on the list of d**kheads.

ON TAKING THAT PENALTY AGAINST FRANCE

Caressing the ball was something I had to do. I lifted my eyes to the heavens and asked for help because if God exists, there's no way he's French. I took a long, intense breath. That breath was mine, but it could have been the manual worker who struggles to make it to the end of the month, the rich businessmen who is a bit of a s**t, the teacher, the student, the Italian expats who never left our side during the tournament, the well-to-do Milanese signora, the hooker on the street corner.

In that moment, I was all of them. You won't believe me, but it was right in that very moment I understood what a great thing it is to be Italian. It's a truly priceless privilege.

ON MARCELLO LIPPI'S APPROACH DURING THE 2006 WORLD CUP

It was a real team effort that made us world champions in Germany but, at one point, Lippi had this to say about the group: "You're all s**ts; you disgust me... You talk to the journalists too much. You're spies who can't keep a single secret – those guys always know the team in real time. What's that all about? I can't even trust you."

ON PLAYING FOR ROY HODGSON AT INTERNAZIONALE

Hodgson mispronounced my name. He called me 'Pirla' (d**khead), perhaps understanding my true nature more than the other managers.

ON AGREEING TO JOIN CHELSEA (MILAN REFUSED TO SELL)

It was August 2009 and I had reached agreement with Chelsea, the club where Ancelotti had just come in as manager. Carlo was like a father and a teacher for me, a kind, friendly man who knew how to make things fun.

ON THE FIGHT BETWEEN ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC AND OGUCHI ONYEWU

I saw them laying into one another like two bullyboys from the roughest estate. They looked like they were trying to kill each other: there were definitely some broken ribs, despite silence and denials from the king's buglers who said it was just a "lively confrontation". Those of us who'd witnessed it were put in mind of a mafia-style settling of the scores.

ON LOSING TO LIVERPOOL IN 2005 IN ISTANBUL, HAVING LED 3-0

When that torture of a game was finished, we sat like a bunch of halfwits in the dressing-room... we were bloodthirsty zombies faced with an unforeseen problem – the blood was ours and they'd drank every last drop. We couldn't speak. We couldn't move. They'd mentally destroyed us.

Insomnia, rage, depression, a sense of nothingness. We'd invented a new disease with multiple symptoms: Istanbul syndrome.

I no longer felt like a player, and that was devastating enough. Even worse, I no longer felt like a man.

That's right: for f**k's sake. Double f**k. The first words that come to my lips when I think of Istanbul.

ON FERGUSON'S DECISION TO USE PARK JI-SUNG TO MAN-MARK HIM

Even Ferguson, the purple-nosed manager who turned Manchester United into a fearsome battleship, couldn't resist the temptation. He's essentially a man without blemish, but he ruined that purity just for a moment when it came to me.

A fleeting shabbiness came over the legend that night. On one of the many occasions when our paths crossed during my time at Milan, he unleashed Park Ji-sung to shadow me. The midfielder must have been the first nuclear-powered South Korean in history, in the sense that he rushed about at the speed of an electron.

ON THE RACISTS WHO ABUSE MARIO BALOTELLI

They're a truly horrendous bunch, a herd of frustrated individuals who've taken the worst of history and made it their own.

Irish Independent

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