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Pirlo: Coaching choice was automatic

The legendary midfielder talks about how he ended up returning to Juventus as the coach

Juventus Training Session Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

Andrea Pirlo started off his tenure as Juventus coach with an impressive 3-0 win over Sampdoria, but then saw his side struggle at AS Roma in a 2-2 draw before the international break gave him a chance to go back to the drawing board.

In an interview with UEFA (via Football Italia), the legendary midfielder talked about how he made the decision to take up football management.

“In the years after I had stopped playing, I started studying, and realised that day by day this passion [for coaching] was growing.

“So, it became an automatic choice to become a coach.

“I had the luck of working with some great coaches. From Mircea Lucescu, who was one of my first at Brescia - he was a maestro - to Marcello Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte and also Max Allegri, I had the luck of working with some of the top coaches in the world.

“I’m happy I had the chance to work with them. And I’ll try to take something from each of them.”

When asked who he considered his role model as a manager, Pirlo went back to his playing days when he lined up in the middle alongside with Pep Guardiola joining Brescia soon after he left for Milan. The Spaniard has since gone on to coach some of the top clubs in the world and is widely regarded in the field.

“Guardiola is an example for us all. He’s showing and has shown that he’s one of the best. Since his years with Barcelona’s youth team and the by moving up to the first team.

“He’s shown that young coaches who are keen to promote a certain kind of attacking football are an example to follow.

“Then, we all have our own ideas and I think we need to take them forward, but he’s definitely a role model for the whole footballing movement.”

One of the big draws for Pirlo to return to Juventus was his familiarity with the club and many of the people within.

“It’s a great feeling. They’ve been really accommodating. Maybe it wasn’t easy for them to see me as their coach in the beginning.

“But in the space of a few hours, they understood that my role was different than a few days earlier.

“So, their attitude changed quickly and easily. They can help me a lot, because they know what it means to play for Juve. They know what it means to win.

“And they also know what it’s like working with me, as they did during the years we played together, so they know the spirit I want to bring to this team.

“So, they’ll be of great help during this season.”

When asked how different it was being on the sidelines versus actually on the pitch, Pirlo admitted it was a tougher role.

“It’s definitely more stressful in the dugout because on the pitch I could decide what I wanted to do with the ball.

“From the dugout I can manage, but it’s other people that are interpreting their role, that are playing the matches, so it’s a bit tougher as a coach.

“When I was playing, I had a certain style which meant I could be involved in certain situations and be decisive in certain situations on the pitch.

“Now, I have to do that on my own from the touchline.”

The Bianconeri brought in some new players this summer to replenish the pipeline.

“They are young players with great quality and with great prospects of improvement. So, when a cycle of certain players comes to an end, it’s only right to start over with young players.

“Luckily, we were able to bring in these lads, and with time let’s hope they can develop and become top players like the ones from a few years ago.”

Cristiano Ronaldo tested positive for COVID earlier on Tuesday, though when this interview was conducted this information was not known yet.

“I’m happy to have this icon of world football, to see him every day, to have him at my disposal, to see him train, to see him play.

“It’s an enormous pleasure for me, and for the whole team. He’s someone who works the same now, at 35, as he did as a young lad, with the same passion to play football every day.

“He’s an example for all of us.”

No talk of Juve ambition is ever complete without mentioning the Champions League, and Pirlo is well aware that the last time the Bianconeri won the competition was over twenty years ago.

“We know when you play in the Champions League, every team are strong, there are no weak teams. So, you have to play against all of them with the utmost attention and passion, because you can’t make any mistakes.

“It’s difficult competition every year because the Champions League is very tough. It depends on the small details.

“When you go back after the winter break, that’s the most difficult period, in my opinion. Around March when teams maybe haven’t got back into the swing of things after preparing for it, whilst others are maybe already in good form.

“So, that’s the most difficult period. You need a bit of luck sometimes, maybe a more favourable draw, because the squad might not be at its best, and you risk losing the whole season.”

Pirlo is insistent that he wants Juve to be proactive with their playing style, and have their opponent - whoever it is - react and make adjustments.

“I always look to play attacking football, to control the game, go to every stadium and impose our game. That’s our objective.

“If you play in the Bernabeu or any other stadium, it’s the same, it doesn’t change anything.”