Any biography of Pirlo, perhaps the greatest playmaker of the 2000s, is bound to have more words dedicated to the things he’s won -- everything but the Euro -- than to his personality and what makes him tick. Pirlo is an inconspicuous man in all arenas of life but the field. There, he is nicknamed l’architecto and il metronomo for his capacity to orchestrate the offense and set the pace of a game.
Sitting very deep in the midfield, where he can collect the ball from his defenders, Pirlo’s long balls and set pieces are without equal. In Poland and Ukraine, as ever, Italy’s forwards will only be as strong as the service Pirlo provides them, which propelled the team to the 2006 World Cup, for starters.
Expert's take: Pirlo has rediscovered his ability to single-handedly change games at Juventus. Still a defensive liability, but there’s no one with his passing range in Europe. -- Shaka Hislop
Stats That Matter:
• Led Serie A with 13 assists this season
• Finished as the top Italian in 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year voting
• Won the Bronze Ball and led all players in the 2006 World Cup with three Man of the Match awards, including the final
• Finished as the top scorer and Golden Player as he captained Italy to win the 2000 UEFA U-21 European Championship
• For club and country he has won 10 trophies in seven competitions: Serie A, Italian Cup, Italian Super Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and FIFA World Cup