MILAN, Italy– Former Italy and Juventus star Andrea Pirlo was appointed the Italian champions’ new coach, just hours after Maurizio Sarri’s sacking with the club promising a “new chapter in world football”.
Sarri, 61, leaves Juventus after just one season, a day after the Italian giants crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16 to French club Lyon.
The 41-year-old Pirlo, with no previous top-level coaching experience, recently took over the Juventus U23 side and arrives on a two-year contract.
“The choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes,” Juventus said.
“Today, begins a new chapter of his career in the world of football: from Maestro to Mister.”
Sarri took over on a three-year contract last summer, after leading Chelsea to a Europa League triumph, but failed to deliver on the promised revolution in style on the pitch.
Pirlo’s swift appointment, a day after their Champions League exit, is again a bold choice for club president Andrea Agnelli.
Other former players have turned to coaching such as Zinedine Zidane, Frank Lampard and Gennaro Gattuso, but Pirlo does so without experience.
The former midfielder does, however, know Juventus and its players well after an impressive four-year spell from 2011 to 2015.
“Pirlo has had a legendary career as a player. In his four years at the centre of the Juventus midfield, he won as many league titles, a Coppa Italia and two Italian Super Cups,” Juventus said.
He also won two Champions Leagues and two league titles with AC Milan.
Former Napoli boss Sarri paid for Juventus’s failure to advance in a tournament they have won twice, but not since 1996.
Juventus also lost the Italian Cup and Italian SuperCup finals this season, and finished just one point ahead of Inter Milan to win a ninth ‘Scudetto’ in a row.
“The Champions League, it was a dream before, now it’s a goal and going out like this is disappointing for us, for the players and for the fans,” said Agnelli.
“We need a cold and lucid analysis, knowing that in a few weeks we will start from scratch and we will have to do it with the same enthusiasm and desire to win.”
– ‘I have to call you Mister?’ –
Pirlo began his playing career at his hometown team Brescia in 1995 and went on to play for Inter, AC Milan and Juve before moving in 2015 for two seasons with New York City FC in the MLS.
Capped 116 times for Italy, he was a key figure in the team that won the 2006 World Cup.
Since the end of his playing career in 2017 Pirlo has been discreet in the world of football, mainly working as a television pundit.
But his lack of enthusiasm and often jaded air, have made him a popular figure on the internet with the slogan ‘Pirlo is not impressed’.
At Juventus, Pirlo will now find himself coaching some of his former teammates such as Juventus goalkeeper Giangluigi Buffon, a year older at 42.
“So now I have to call you Mister!?!?! Good luck for this new challenge Andrea!,” wrote Buffon on Twitter.
He will also have to manage five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, the club’s 100-million-euro ($115 million) signing two years ago.
The 35-year-old scored a double on Friday night but could not lift his ailing side into the Champions League quarter-finals in his native Portugal.