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Pirlo the Tinker Bell of Italian football

June 13, 2012

KRAKOW:  Andrea Pirlo was once dubbed Tinker Bell by an Italian football commentator and the World Cup winner proved again against Spain in their Euro 2012 opener that he can still weave his magic.

The 33-year-old Italian – named after the magical fairy from the English literary classic Peter Pan – will be looked to once again for his creative and visionary passing when the 2006 World Cup winners play Croatia on Thursday in Group C and to provide another of his trademark killer passes.

It was one of these that set up Antonio di Natale for their goal in the impressive 1-1 draw with defending champions Spain.

The pass was almost as memorable as the extraordinary one he delivered in the 2006 World Cup 2-0 semi-final victory over Germany that set up Fabio Grosso for the first a minute from the end of extra-time.

He has proved that while age may take its toll on your legs it does not on one’s class as Juventus found to its benefit last season having signed him on a free transfer on a three year contract after his contract ran out at AC Milan after 10 years of loyal service.

Pirlo played an integral role in the ‘Old Lady’ winning the title after several years in the wilderness and went through the Serie A season unbeaten – indeed the last time he lost in Serie A was December 10 2010 when Roma beat Milan 1-0.

“It was the deal of the century,” opined Pirlo’s fellow World Cup winner and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

In the eyes of Juventus coaching legend and former Italy handler Giovanni Trapattoni, who handed the star his first of 84 caps in September 2002, Pirlo was irreplaceable.

“I would label him the Zico in front of the defence,” said the 73-year-old Ireland coach, who will come up against his protege in their final group game.

“He is indispensable, the avenue through which all moves go in whatever team he is in.

“One doesn’t refer to a ‘Juve bloc’ (six Juventus player started the Spain game), it is a Pirlo bloc.”

Pirlo, who accrues nicknames at will – he is also known as ‘The Architect’ – has earned the ultimate accolade in being dubbed as good a passer of the ball as the Spanish trio of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and David Silva.

However, they have something he lacks and which is the only major winners medal lacking from his cabinet – the Euro, hence he will be hoping his magic touch lasts till the final on July



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