Spain were the eventual winners of Euro 2012 last year. But, the Italian national team's superb run to the final lit up the tournament.
One of the most enduring images from that championship has to be Andrea Pirlo's nonchalant 'Panenka'- the chipped penalty during the penalty shootout against England in the quarter-finals.
It takes a special player with loads of skill and bags of confidence to pull off such a stunt in such a pressure situation. Those are qualities that Pirlo possesses by the bag and if anybody could pull it off, it would be him.
Joe Hart was left dumbfounded by that little piece of magic from Pirlo and the English stopper for a brief moment couldn’t but help be in awe of what the midfielder had pulled off. For most of us, FIFA, Pro Evolution and other football games represent the one playing field where we can dare to attempt trickery and other mind-boggling skills that football stars display out on the pitch.
Pirlo, in his recently released biography ‘Penso quindi gioco’ – ‘I think therefore I play’ – revealed that while at AC Milan he would spend hours at a stretch on the game console with former team-mate Alessandro Nesta being a favourite sparring partner.
“After the wheel, the best invention is the PlayStation,” said Pirlo in his book making clear his love for gaming in no uncertain terms.
“Me and Nesta was a clasico of our time at Milanello. We’d get in early, have breakfast at 9 o’clock then close ourselves off in our room to challenge each other, train, have lunch and then it was back in our room again until four in the afternoon,” added the bearded veteran talking about the intense gaming sessions that he enjoyed with Nesta.
Pirlo stated that both he and Nesta always chose Barcelona -“Our battles were pure adrenaline. I chose Barcelona, Sandrino did too. Barca against Barca.”
And while there aren’t many midfield battles that Pirlo loses with the ball at his feet, he admitted to not quite having the same domination in the virtual arena.
“The first player I’d take was Samuel Eto’o, the fastest out of everyone, though I often lost. I’d throw the joystick, demand a rematch and lose again, but I couldn’t use the excuse that the coach of his team was better than mine; Pep Guardiola for him, Pep Guardiola for me.”
Pirlo in a recent interview with Sky Sports Italia also spoke about how he was very close to signing for Chelsea and Real Madrid in the past during his time at Milan. However, the ‘Diavolo’ Chief Silvio Berlusconi blocked the deals. So much so that in fact, he had agreed terms with Chelsea before Berlusconi’s intervention scuppered the deal.
Eventually, the midfielder would move to Juventus on a free-transfer after 10 years with the ‘Rossoneri’.
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