Date of birth: 19 May 1979 (1979-05-19)
Place of birth: Flero, Lombardy, Italy
Height: 1.77 m (5 ft 9 1⁄2 in)
Weight: 68 kg
Playing position: Midfielder
Andrea Pirlo, Cavaliere Ufficiale OMRI (born 19 May 1979 in Flero, Lombardy), is an Italian World Cup winning footballer who plays for Serie A club A.C. Milan and the Italian national team. He is usually deployed as a deep-lying playmaker for both AC Milan and Italy and is widely regarded as the best player in this position. Praised for his inventive play and his long passing ability, he is also a set-piece specialist.
Pirlo has played for the Italian youth teams U-15, U-18 and U-21, captaining and leading the latter to victory in the 2000 as the Golden Player and Top Scorer of the tournament. He joined the Italian senior side during the qualification round for World Cup 2002 and captained the national team to a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics. Later, he was instrumental in their victory in the 2006 World Cup. He was named man of the match three times, including the final, more than any other player in the tournament, and ultimately won the Bronze Ball (third best player in tournament).
With Milan, he has won two UEFA Champions League (2003 and 2007), two European Super Cups (2003 and 2007), two Scudetto (2004 and 2011), an Italian Super Cup (2004), a FIFA Club World Cup (2006), and the Italian Cup in 2003.
He came in third and second in IFFHS World Playmaker of the Year awards in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Fellow players on the Italian team gave him the nickname "l'architetto" (the architect) because his long passes frequently set up goal-scoring opportunities for the Azzurri (Italian national team).
Pirlo was born in Flero, Lombardy, Italy. His brother Ivan plays for a Serie C2 club in Brescia. Pirlo made his debut for Brescia against Reggina. After breaking into the Brescia first team, Pirlo was spotted by Internazionale coach, Mircea Lucescu who signed the playmaker. However, Pirlo was unable to break into the first squad and Internazionale finished 8th in the 1998–99 Serie A campaign. Pirlo was shipped off on loan to the club he made his debut against in 1995, Reggina. After an impressive season he returned to Internazionale but was once again unable to break into the first squad making just 4 league appearances and spent the second half of the season on loan at former club, Brescia.
After 3 seasons on the Internazionale books, Pirlo was sold to fierce rivals, Fatih Terim's Milan for 35 billion Italian lire (about €18 million) but part of the fees paid via Dražen Brnčić joining Inter. That transfer windows the two clubs has also swapped Cristian Brocchi for Guly; Paolo Ginestra for Matteo Bogani. The deals later reported by press were also aimed to create "false profit" by inflating the transfer fees in the swap deal, which Ginestra and Bogani both created €3.5million "profit" for both clubs but in terms of registration rights, while Brnčić created a lurid €9.6 million gain.
It was at Milan where he found his true strides developing into a world class player. With Milan, he has won two Scudetto and two Champions League titles. He also won an Italian Cup and two UEFA Super Cups with Milan in 2003 and 2007. However, his most forgettable incident was the penalty miss during 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, as he found his spot kick was saved by Jerzy Dudek.
Pirlo started his career as an offensive midfielder until coach Carlo Ancelotti developed for him a deep-seated playmaking role at Milan. Since then, he has formed a formidable partnership with Gennaro Gattuso in the midfield and has earned the nickname "the metronome" for the way he sets the team's rhythm. He led Serie A in the 2002–03 season in four special categories, passes played (2589), ball possession (123 hours played and 39 minutes), successful balls (661) and successful passes (2093). This implies that he averaged almost 90 passes per game. He led Milan in minutes played for the 2006–07 season with 2,782. In October 2007, he was nominated for the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Award but it went to Milan teammate Kaká instead. After Kaká and coach Carlo Ancelotti left Milan in the summer of 2009, Chelsea tested Milan's resolve by bidding $12m and Claudio Pizarro for Pirlo. The club rejected the offer and Pirlo was said to be contemplating a transfer request. On 5 August, Berlusconi decided not to sell Pirlo who said he was overjoyed and wanted to end his career at Milan. On 21 October 2009, Pirlo scored a brilliant 30 meter goal in Milan's 3–2 win over Real Madrid.
On 2 October 2010, Pirlo scored a brilliant 40-yard goal against Parma to give Milan their first away win of the 2010–11 season. The shot was going 84 kilometres per hour.
On 7 May 2011, Pirlo won the Serie A with Milan, his second Serie A title in his career.
Pirlo captained Italy to an Under-21 European Championship in 2000 and semi-finalists in 2002. Pirlo played for Italy at the 2000 Summer Olympics, won the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics.
Pirlo was a member of the Italian Squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. In Italy's first match in the tournament, Pirlo scored the opening goal against Ghana, and subsequently set up a goal for Vincenzo Iaquinta to seal the 2–0 victory. He was named the Man of the Match. In the second match, he set up a diving header for Alberto Gilardino from a set piece which proved to be vital in their 1–1 draw against the United States. In their final group stage match Pirlo found Marco Materazzi's game winning header from a corner kick against the Czech Republic. In the semifinal against Germany, he assisted on the opening goal in the dying minutes and was again named Man of the Match. In the final against France, his corner kick produced Marco Materazzi's equalizing header ten minutes after France had opened the score. The match went to a penalty shoot-out, in which he scored. He was named Man of the Match for a third time, and was voted third-best player of the tournament.
Pirlo was not be able to play the first two games in the 2010 FIFA World Cup for Italy, due to recent injuries. He came off the bench for Italy late in the match on 24 June against Slovakia. Even with his help in orchestrating a renewed Italian offense, Pirlo could not prevent Italy from being knocked out of the first round.
Andrea Pirlo and his wife Deborah married in 2001 and have two children: son Niccolo (born 2003) and daughter Angela (born 2006).
Although often thought otherwise Pirlo is not of Sinti origin and clarified this in interviews with Sky Sports Italia.