Pirlo: 'Ready for Italy and NYCFC'
Friday July 24 2015
Andrea Pirlo believes New York City FC can be “a truly important experience” and it’s up to Antonio Conte whether he’ll still play for Italy
The former Juventus midfielder was presented to the media in New York after signing for the MLS club.
“I know New York as a tourist, having come here a few times. I know the various areas of the city and there’s always something new to discover.”
Pirlo could make his MLS debut on Sunday against Kaka’s Orlando City.
“As for on the field, I hope to be able to play on Sunday, but we’ll take it one day at a time. I worked even during the month’s vacation, so I’m in pretty good shape. We’ll see tomorrow.
“I played with many champions, but the important thing is always the team, as the group goes beyond any single player. I will therefore put myself at the disposal of the Coach and my teammates to get the best results.
“These two days have been important and I was eager to get started on this new experience, to see what was new. It went well, now I just need to find my best form so I can start playing.
“There’s every chance this can be a truly important experience.”
Pirlo also replied to critics who claimed this was a move spurred by financial considerations.
“Money was never an issue for me, as football comes first. When you are playing at the highest level, it’s right to earn well, but money is one thing and football is another.
“I’ve never needed to play for money. I play because I love football. Other people can say what they want.”
There is of course a huge Italian community in New York City.
“It’s pleasing and I hope many of them will come to the stadium to see us. I know we’ll keep them entertained.”
Pirlo was asked whether he would embrace the relative anonymity of a soccer player in the US or work to make himself more of a household name.
“In my career I have never been someone who ends up on the front pages of magazines. I came to America not to be a tourist or make adverts, but to be a football player – it’s what I do best.
“If I can help MLS to grow in popularity, then that’s a boost, but the important thing is the team.
“The season is still long and this is a new team that started from scratch. Now we need to look forward and reach the play-offs, so I’m sure with daily work we’ll achieve our objectives.”
Pirlo was asked about his age, having turned 36 in May.
“Unfortunately I can’t turn back the clock. This is my age. I am not old, I want to keep playing and feel good. It doesn’t seem to me as if the other players are that much younger than me, so again those who want to talk can do so.
“My passion is always the same. In fact, with a new adventure the passion always grows. Fortunately I still have this hunger and this passion, otherwise I would’ve stayed in Italy and retired.
“As long as I have this passion, I will continue playing football.”
Moving to Major League Soccer could damage his chances of continuing to play for Italy, so did he discuss it with Coach Conte first?
“Yes, I spoke to Conte about the decision I had in mind. He said he could come here on vacation to see the games. We have a good rapport, I am at his disposal and it’s his decision whether to call me or not.
“MLS is growing as a League. It’s still of a fairly low level, very physical, but the level is growing with many players coming in from Europe and South America, so I hope it will continue to improve.
“I came to New York City as a player, so my objective is to take the team as high as possible, preferably to victory. If that helps Major League Soccer grow, then that’s welcome too, but I was signed as a New York City FC player and to do what’s best for the team.”
Yankee Stadium is only 70 yards wide and rather short compared to some of the other pitches he’s accustomed to, but Pirlo isn’t thrown.
“Pitches are more or less all the same, they all have lines drawn on and the differences are minimal. The rules remain the same in Italy or America.”
Italian reporters asked Pirlo if he had finally shaken off the disappointment of losing the Champions League Final with Juventus.
“Unfortunately when you lose certain games like a Final, the disappointment stays with you. As you go to bed, the moments of the game come back to you.
“I think the biggest disappointment remains the Final lost with Milan in Istanbul, even though I was upset against Barcelona because I realised it would be my last Champions League Final.”