In the wake of the news that Andrea Pirlo will no longer be caressing a football as a professional having called time on his career, there has been an outpouring of love for one of the most well-respected players of his generation.
The likes of Paul Pogba and Steven Gerrard took to their social media pages with haste having learned that Pirlo would not be continuing his time with NYCFC in the MLS, but perhaps the best tribute of all came from his good friend and former midfield partner Gennaro Gattuso.
A competitive and aggressive midfielder, Gattuso was the 'yin' to Pirlo's 'yang' as his job was essentially to win the ball back before presenting it for Pirlo to use.
When speaking to Radio 24 [via football-italia.net] about his pal Pirlo, Gattuso claimed that the luxurious midfielder made him look better. When asked if he thought that his tenacious tackling and defensive work did the same for Pirlo, Gattuso was having none of it.
Don’t talk nonsense, let’s not confuse Nutella with shit.
When I saw him play it made me think I had to change profession. Nobody knows that better than me, because I started playing with him at Italy Under-15 level and then all the youth teams after that.
It wasn’t only about his quality, but he was an animal covering 1000 metres, he had this athletic quality which is why he played until this age .
He was someone who ran so much. I played with him for about 20 years when you consider the national youth teams, in difficult moments I just gave it to him, I always felt assured when I was next to him.
I understood what I had to do, and he was taking care of the rest. He helped me much more in my career than I did him.
Pirlo was luxurious, but could not be described as a 'luxury' player which would suggest he only performs when the conditions suit him or when he 'fancies it'. He may not have been tough in the tackle but he didn't need to be, and nobody is more aware of that than Gattuso.
Pirlo will be missed, although hopefully we can look forward to a ridiculously stylish career in management or punditry in the coming years.