Andrea Pirlo

Former Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo has called time on his illustrious football career.

The 38-year-old announced his immediate retirement after playing his last game for his current side, New York City FC, who got knocked out of the MLS Play-offs.

“Not only my adventure in NY comes to an end, but my journey as a football player as well,” wrote Pirlo in a statement posted on his Twitter account.

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“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.”

Andrea Pirlo began his career with his home-town club Brescia in 1995. His performances helped guide the team to a Serie B title and gain promotion to Seria A.

A year later, Inter Milan came calling and the midfielder joined for a fee around £1.8m. Pirlo, however, failed to flourish at his new team and was sold to AC Milan in 2001 for £16m.

With the Rossoneri under the stewardship of Carlo Ancelotti, Pirlo was molded into a world-class midfielder. He played 400 games and was part of the Milan side who won two Serie A titles, two Champions Leagues and a Club World Cup between 2003 and 2011.

During that time, he also helped his country win the World Cup.

Andrea Pirlo

In 2011, at the expiration of his contract with Milan, Pirlo made a surprise move to Juventus. He continued to impress despite his age, adding four titles and an Italian Cup under both Antonio Conte and Max Allegri. He also played in the 2015 Champions League final.

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The Italian then moved to New York, joining former England midfielder Frank Lampard and Spain striker David Villa at the Manchester City-owned franchise. He helped his new side reach the MLS play-offs in each of the past two seasons, but was unable to win any more silverware.

“Everyone at New York City FC would like to congratulate Andrea on an incredible career and to thank him for his excellent contribution to NYCFC over the past two and a half years.” the club said.

Andrea Pirlo was one of the world’s most cool, elegant and technically gifted midfielders with a unique playing style. He was also known as a free-kick specialist as he was dubbed ‘the architect’ for his playmaking skills.