It’s time to discover who inspired NYCFC’s maestro more than any other player when his hopes of World and European glory were just dreams.
Uniquely, Andrea actually played with his idol early on in his playing career when the pair were at Brescia in the early 1990s.
Andrea’s favorite player is… Roberto Baggio.
Pirlo on Baggio…
“I played with Baggio when I was young. I grew up with his myth and to actually play with him was like being in a dream. I tried to hang out with him, to study how he played and to learn from him.
“He was my idol. For a young lad it’s a dream to play with your idol and I managed to make that happen. From the moment I knew I had the chance of training with him I was impatient. I couldn’t wait.”
Roberto Baggio: The Divine Ponytail
A technically-gifted free-kick specialist, Baggio is recognized as perhaps the greatest Italian player of his generation.
He became the first Italian player to score more than 300 career goals in the early 2000s but there was so much more to the Caldogno-born forward than his contributions on the scoreboard.
Throughout the course of his 22-year playing career, Baggio represented some of Serie A’s leading lights, such as Juventus, Milan and Inter, as well as playing for Italy on 56 occasions, helping the Azzurri to the World Cup final in 1994.
While one of the defining moments of his international career was undoubtedly his penalty miss in that World Cup final against Brazil, the fact that he was named World Soccer Player of the Year in 1993 tells you this was just one blip in his incredible time at the top.
Baggio played with Pirlo when he was winding down his career and when Andrea was just making his first steps.
The pair were cast in the roles of Master and Apprentice as the provincial club went on their best-ever Serie A run and were never relegated in Baggio’s four years there.
The club retired the no.10 shirt when he hung up his boots in 2004.
A former President of the technical sector of the Italian FA, now 50, Baggio received the Man of Peace award from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in 2010 in recognition of his human rights activism.
A practicing Buddhist, Roberto inaugurated the opening of the largest temple in Europe a couple of years ago and divides his time between Italy and his ranch in Argentina.
UEFA Cup: 1993
Serie A: 1995
Coppa Italia: 1995
Serie A: 1996