“The Professor” Andrea Pirlo formally announces retirement from football

Andrea Pirlo has formally announced his retirement from professional football after a trophy-laden 22-year career.

The former Italy international, 38, played his final match on Sunday as New York City FC were knocked out of the MLS Cup play-offs by the Columbus Crew.

City needed to overturn a 4-1 deficit from the first leg but, despite a 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium, their post-season involvement came to an end, and with it Pirlo’s career.

“Last match in MLS. As my time in NYC FC comes to an end, I want to thank everybody for the kindness and support they have shown me in this incredible city,” Pirlo tweeted.

“Not only my adventure in New York comes to an end but my journey as a football player as well. Thank you to the amazing supporters, thank you to the coaching staff … and thank you to my team-mates.”

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Pirlo began his career at Brescia before joining Inter for £1.8m in 1998. The midfielder failed to hold down a regular starting place, and moved to Milan for £16m in 2001. In a decade with the rossoneri, Pirlo played 400 games, winning two Serie A titles and the Champions League in 2003 and 2007.

In 2011, days after his 32nd birthday and with his Milan contract set to expire, Pirlo made a surprise move to Juventus. Playing in a deeper role under Antonio Conte and Max Allegri, he won another four league titles, played in the 2015 Champions League final and cemented his reputation as one of the world’s most elegant, technically gifted midfielders.

Pirlo moved to New York City FC in July 2015, playing for the MLS side for two seasons. In October, he announced that he would retire at the end of the season, but denied rumours that he would link up with Conte again as part of the Chelsea coaching staff.

Pirlo posted a statement on Twitter thanking his family and every team he “had the honour 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.

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