Creating opportunities for others to score and spectacular long range free kicks are the hallmark of his game. Pirlo’s vision and passing ability is now much admired, but as a young prodigy in Brescia it was a different story.
Andrea Pirlo is the dominant Italian footballer of the last 20 years.
“In terms of player development, competition is very, very important.”
So said Empoli U-15 coach Simone Bombardieri to me on my recent visit to Serie A clubs Fiorentina and Empoli.
Should Real Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League this year special recognition will go to an unlikely type of coach.
When competition and development are linked, young footballers perform at their best. Without competition, there is no mental or physical challenge. Training and playing gets boring. A player needs to be challenged both physically and mentally.
Italian football produces fantastic players. Its production line of talent is founded on the ability to link competition and development at junior level.
All White midfielder Tim Payne (21) has become used to responding to adversity.
“Professional football is such a cut-throat environment.”