Andrea Pirlo has revealed how his first encounter with Roy Hodgson, which came during their time together at Inter Milan, resulted in the England manager calling the esteemed midfielder a ‘dickhead’. But it was all simply a misunderstanding, of course.
Hodgson reached the UEFA Cup final as Inter coach during his first spell at the San Siro and returned to the club in 1999 to take caretaker charge of the team following the departure of Luciano Castellini. It was during this second spell with the club that he met Pirlo for the first time.
It was a relationship that did not get off to the best start, as a slip of the tongue from Hodgson - who is fluent in Italian - saw him mispronounce the surname of a then 22-year-old Pirlo, resulting in an inadvertent insult.
“Roy Hodgson mispronounced my name,” Pirlo explained in his memoir. “He called me Pirla (dickhead), perhaps understanding my true nature more than other managers.”
The superbly named Pirlo book, I Think Therefore I Play, is released in English today (April 15) and provides access to one of football’s great creative minds. Pirlo’s anecdote on Hodgson is one of numerous funny lines, but there are also instances of far greater revelation.
Pirlo details how he almost left Milan for Real Madrid, before Pep Guardiola later made a sleuth-like attempt to bring him to the Camp Nou. There was also an opportunity to join former manager Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, while he has resisted lucrative offers from the Middle East.
Andrea Pirlo: I Think Therefore I Play is out now in paperback (£9.99) and all electronic formats by BackPage Press.