Italy news

Pirlo to retire after 2014 World Cup

May 3, 2013
By ESPN staff

Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo will retire from international duties after the 2014 World Cup, insisting he must make way for younger players to break into Cesare Prandelli's side.

Mario Balotelli and Andrea Pirlo impressed during the European Championship
GettyImagesAndrea Pirlo will quit international football to give Italy's younger players their chance for the Azzurri

Pirlo, 34, has been capped 97 times for Italy and was a key part of the side that lifted the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The Juventus playmaker is also expected to lead the Azzurri into next year's tournament, but has made room for a changing of the guard, regardless of Italy's results.

Despite Pirlo's decision to quit international football, he insists he will prolong his club future as much as possible, with Juve on the brink of back-to-back Serie A titles.

"In 2014 I will stop with the national team, I think the World Cup will be the last appointment with the blue shirt," he was reported as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport. "You have to leave room for the young.

"At club level I will continue on as long as I have passion and I feel important. Otherwise I'll be the first to get me out."

Juve need just a point against Palermo in Turin on Sunday to secure this season's league title, but Pirlo refuses to celebrate until the final whistle has been blown.

"We have to get the point and then we can talk about the Scudetto," he said. "Believe us, we want to end the season on Sunday. It will be the title of continuity. The group has done something important last year and this year we have repeated that, which is never easy."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.