Grazie, Pirlo

Pirlo, New York City FC
Andrea Pirlo is heading off to retirement. Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA Today Sports

During its short three year tenure as a Major League Soccer franchise, New York City FC has given fans in the New York area and across the nation the opportunity to watch the talents of European legends David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo.

Lampard left after the 2016 season and now, with NYCFC’s 2017 season in the rearview mirror, the great Pirlo is also gone.

The Maestro’s retirement comes as no surprise as the Italian legend’s talents have diminished over the past two years, although he still was capable of threading a pass through the tightest of spaces. But Pirlo’s retirement brings with it a bit of sadness. The game has lost a great ambassador, one who plied his trade with professionalism, quality and a great deal of cool.

Last match in MLS. As my time in NYFC comes to an end I would like to say few words. I want to thank everybody for the kindness and support they have shown me in this incredible city. Thank you to the amazing supporters, thank you to the coaching staff and everybody that work behind the scene, thank you to my teammates. Not only my adventure in NY comes to an end but my journey as a football player as well, 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 honor to play for, every teammate I have been pleased to play alongside, all the people that made my career such 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.

A post shared by Andrea Pirlo Official (@andreapirlo21) on

In the spring of 2015, I recall hearing rumblings that Pirlo would be leaving Juventus and possibly heading to the Bronx. As I sat watching his team battle Lionel Messi and Barcelona in the Champions League final that year, the thought of this legendary player coming to New York was one that fascinated and excited me.

Just weeks later, I was at a packed Yankee Stadium for the NYCFC/New York Red Bulls match when Pirlo and Lampard made an appearance on the pitch in street clothes. Pirlo, with his Champions League, World Cup, Serie A and other trophies, was officially coming to the Big Apple.

Reading media accounts over the past two years, Pirlo seemed to relish his time in New York. In Italy, he was a rock star and was unable to do the things that us normal people take for granted. But in New York, Pirlo could enjoy his free time with little bother, something he seemed to enjoy.  

But the maestro has played his final symphony. And all we can do is celebrate a wonderful career, and terrific personality and appreciate the fact that New York City fans got to see Pirlo play first hand. Even if only for a short time.

For this, we say to Andrea, grazie.