Pirlo: “I had already signed the contract with Real Madrid”


Sampdoria coach Andrea Pirlo revealed how close he was to joining Real Madrid in 2006: “I had already signed the contract.” The legendary Serie A midfielder spoke with Radio TV Serie A about his career, recalling his time with Brescia under Carlo Mazzone, his journey to Milan and what he learned from Antonio Conte at Juventus:

“I have always lived with a lot of expectations, everyone expected me to do something important. Little by little I did what I did, proving on the field what I collected, always ready to take criticism. It’s not easy for a child to live like that, but you have to think about playing and having fun. I never set myself any limits, I wanted to be one of the best by winning a World Cup and a Champions League. I was never satisfied in my life; I was never satisfied with what I had done before, I was always trying to improve. Talent improves with work and with the stimuli that have to push you to do better and better’.

“You see the talents  straight away; some make their debut earlier, some later, everyone has their own times and these times must be respected. Everyone has to make their own experiences. There are those who start young and immediately become protagonists as it was for Donnarumma. Now it’s not easy because football has changed and you don’t always have the chance to start at a very young age in the first team, but those who are good are right to find space. The Italian football movement is one of the few where you can’t give confidence to youngsters right from the start; abroad everything is different, whoever deserves to play plays, regardless of age’.

“Coaching? I don’t look at a player’s identity card, what counts is that he shows his aptitudes and qualities. Bellingham is a predestined player, he was born to play football and it is right for him to have this career. He is a player with great prospects who has been managed by Ancelotti, who is a coach with great experience and human qualities.

Nicolo Pirlo

“‘When the first articles about me came out, the first jealousies started to arise from the boys in my village. Teammates tried to isolate me by not passing me the ball, probably to be seen. My turning point came when one Sunday, discouraged by these recurring situations, I decided to go and get the ball and start playing on my own. I advise parents against going to see their children play. There are always unpleasant situations in the stands because many parents hope to have a star player as a son, but often this is not the case and you risk losing the poetry of the game and the fun that should come from it’.

“Lucescu was the first to bring me into the first team: he doted on me and even when I was training with the ‘big boys’ he always had an eye on me and pushed me to do better and better. Mazzone was the one who kick-started my career; for him I was Brescia’s Falcao and from being the trequartista or midfielder that I was, he moved me to become midfield director”.

“When you start playing as a professional you no longer support the team you supported as a child. You think about doing your job to the utmost and you start supporting the team you play for. When I was a child I was a huge Inter fan; my dad used to take me to Viareggio on holiday and when Inter were in training camp there, I would go there to get their autographs.

“I won with almost all the coaches who coached me; I have wonderful memories with each of them. Certainly with Lippi I won the trophy that every footballer hopes to win. The afternoon before the World Cup I spent in my room relaxing and playing video games.”

“Reggina? It was a wonderful 10 months, it was the right place to find continuity and to be able to play in Serie A after a season at Inter, which wasn’t optimal”.

“With AC Milan I won everything, but the most beautiful victory was the first Champions League. We were almost all first-timers and we had been waiting to reach this goal since the beginning of the season, after a semi-final win against Inter. I have experienced wonderful emotions over the years also thanks to the teammates who made every moment beautiful. The wound from the final in Istanbul is difficult to heal, we won the next one, but at that moment you don’t think about future opportunities and on that occasion I even thought about quitting. My adventure with AC Milan didn’t end as I dreamed; I hoped I could stay and still be useful. When I realised I was no longer seen as an important player, I didn’t hesitate to change teams. At that time there was a policy that over-30s were only offered a one-year contract; I was still young and I couldn’t find an agreement so I went in another direction.

“Juventus? This was revenge for me. I had a great desire to prove to everyone that I was still a strong player who could still play at a high level and with Juve I won four championships and we reached a Champions League final. With Conte the ride began that led us to win the first championship without defeat and then the following ones; I have a very good relationship with him. He was the first to start making me analyse situations on the pitch, I thought almost as a coach. He was a great teacher on the pitch and in football. In the way I handle certain situations and the training of my boys, I take an example from him”.

“Real Madrid? It was the period of Calciopoli, we had just won the World Cup and it was not clear how Serie A would restart. I had already signed the contract with Real Madrid when on the first day of training camp with Milan they told us that we would restart from Serie A with a penalty, so in agreement with my agent and Galliani I signed with Milan. During the Gamper trophy I was called by Guardiola to his office because he wanted me at Barcelona, meanwhile the idea and the possibility of Ibra coming to Milan was also materialising. In the end Ibra arrived and I stayed there too’.

“The World Cup? Lippi chose me as the first to kick the penalty in the final. It wasn’t a walk in the park because the tension was so great, but I didn’t think too much and I kicked. Coverciano was a second home: from the youth national team to the first team’.

“Coaching Juve was a great experience. It was a journey with a young and new team; I have no regrets. Coaching Cristiano Ronaldo makes you understand how to become number 1 in the world. He is an exemplary professional in everything: from eating, to recovery, to training itself.” ”

“Sampdoria? We have started a long job; I feel great and I hope I can achieve the goals.”


Serie A obsessive.