Andrea Pirlo is a player who changed the game of football forever, according to the final Head Coach of the Italian’s glittering 22-year career.
Patrick Vieira believes that Pirlo has inspired youngsters from all over the globe to play in his deep-lying playmaking role and has left a legacy which will last generations.
Il Maestro confirmed that his late cameo vs. Columbus Crew SC on Sunday will be his last-ever appearance, bringing the curtain down on a stellar career.
Vieira told NYCFC.com: “He’s one of the best holding midfielders ever – he changed the position of the no.6. Before, the no.6 role was just tackling and winning the ball, but now you have to be a playmaker, you have to be as good as your no.10 with the ball.
“I think he improved that position with the quality he has on the ball and the way his brain works on the field – he made that position even harder for the next few players who want to play this role.
“I also believe he’s impacted the game – a lot of young players now want to play that no.6 position. Before, everyone wanted to be a no.9 or a no.10 but now Andrea has helped to create more young players who want to play that position.”
His legacy is also permanently etched into the fabric of NYCFC, thanks to the impact Andrea had on the youngest members of the squad.
A model professional, Vieira believes that his players should be thankful that they had the opportunity to share a locker room with a “true gentleman” of the game.
Vieira continued: “When you talk about Andrea Pirlo, you think about the career that he had. I had a chance to work with him for the last two years and he’s been a really good professional and a really good example for all of the young players that we have in our football club on how to conduct yourself as a professional.
“What I mean by that, is what it takes to play so long at the highest level – the way he trained, the way he’s eating, the way he’s looking after himself – the extra work he does off the field. Those young players have to realize how lucky they were to play and look up to a player doing that on a daily basis.
“When Andrea is part of the greatest players who’ve ever played the game – he’s one of the greatest holding midfielders of all-time. He had a fantastic career, not just on the field but off it because he’s a true gentleman. He’s a really good guy.”