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New York-bound Pirlo's Champions League highs

Andrea Pirlo has moved from Juventus to New York City FC and his UEFA Champions League days appear over. Here he speaks of what the competition has meant.

Andrea Pirlo's European club showreel

Exactly a month after playing for Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final against FC Barcelona, Andrea Pirlo has departed Serie A for New York City FC.

The 36-year-old will officially join on 21 July and link up with fellow UEFA Champions League winners David Villa and Frank Lampard in New York, after two decades at the top in Italy with Brescia Calcio, FC Internazionale Milano, Reggina Calcio and, most notable, AC Milan and Juventus.

Twice a European Cup winner with AC Milan and a Serie A champion for the last five seasons, including all four of his Juventus spell, few players have lit up the game like the graceful 2006 FIFA World Cup victor. In April, Pirlo sat down with UEFA.com to look back at his life and times in the UEFA Champions League, a competition in which he played 115 times over 17 years.

Click on the video player above to watch Pirlo's European showreel.

Pirlo on anthem

UEFA.com: You made your competition debut in 1998 with Inter, and 17 years on you are still a UEFA Champions League regular. What does the tournament mean to you?

Andrea Pirlo: Playing in the Champions League is every player's dream and I was fortunate enough that it came true for me, so I regard myself as lucky. It is a fantastic competition. It's always a special feeling listening to the anthem, because when you hear that, it is a Champions League match and a match with a different feeling from the ones you play on Sundays. I hope I can continue playing in it a while longer.

UEFA.com: You went from Inter to Milan, where you would spend ten years. How was it to join the city rivals?

Pirlo: Well, I was so young [22] that I didn't really take any notice. I just wanted to show [Inter] they made a mistake in selling me and I ended up having ten fantastic years with Milan. But there were no hard feelings towards my old team really.

UEFA.com: You won the UEFA Champions League for the first time with Milan in 2002/03. How was that?

Pirlo: It was an excellent season. We had to start with a qualifying round, and there were still two group stages, so we had a lot of matches but with a fantastic team of great players. Then we played the semi-final and final against Italian sides [Inter and Juve] – something that is unlikely to happen again. That semi-final was especially electrifying. But luckily it was all over in the space of a week, because you could really feel the tension.     

UEFA.com: Two years later you were back in the final, losing to Liverpool FC on penalties after leading 3-0 in Istanbul. Does it still amaze you how that happened?

Pirlo: Well, we played a spectacular first half in which we maybe played the best football of that era, but then something happened which shouldn't happen – even we didn't really know what was going on. It was just unbelievable, but this is what can happen in football. You think the match is won, but then it ended in a way nobody could foresee.  

UEFA.com: Milan avenged that defeat in the 2007 final. How did that feel?

Pirlo: There was the desire to lift the trophy again, which we should have done two years before. So it was a great feeling and a joy, which helped to erase the memories of that match two years before. We deserved it.

UEFA.com: In 2011 you signed for Juventus. What did playing for the club mean to you?

Pirlo: After those ten years [at Milan] I needed a change of scene, so Juventus was the perfect place to go – they had just finished seventh in the table and there was a great willingness to start afresh. We had three fantastic years straight away, winning three league titles. To come to a club like Juve and continue to be successful makes me very proud.

UEFA.com: What qualities does a team need to win the UEFA Champions League?

Pirlo: You need a lot of different ingredients to go all the way in the Champions League. You need a good squad, a bit of luck and good form. It depends a lot on how the teams shape up in that last period of the season because there can be so many games to play in the league and cup competitions. Injuries can also be a factor.

Andrea Pirlo first played in the UEFA Champions League for Inter
Andrea Pirlo first played in the UEFA Champions League for Inter©Getty Images

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