In the News: #GrazieMaestro and Best XI Nods

pirlo ITN

Andrea Pirlo played the final match of his superlative-defying career on Sunday, and tributes to the Maestro from around the world still haven't stopped rolling in. 

#GrazieMaestro: Pirlo Retires from Soccer

Former clubs, fellow legends of the game, the Azzurri, and plenty of others have weighed in on Pirlo's farewell. 

VIEIRA:Pirlo Changed Football Forever

The man has so, so many highlights. He doesn't lack admirers, either.

Those two both had their fair share of success, both in Major League Soccer and in Europe, where Frank Lampard made his name as a perennial title-winner before joining NYCFC.

PHOTOS: #GrazieMaestro

The pundits have joined the party, too. Paolo Bandini chronicled Pirlo's magical career in The Guardian.

After describing the prank-laden relationship between the Maestro and Gennaro Gattuso, Bandini writes "...It was not the practical jokes, though, that tormented Gattuso the most. Harder to cope with were the existential crises provoked by training alongside such outlandish talent. As he mused on one occasion: 'When I watch Pirlo play, and see him with the ball at his feet, I ask myself if I could even truly be considered a footballer at all.'"

Perhaps most notable in Bandini's piece is how he formulates Pirlo's worldwide ubiquity:

"What we know is that somewhere along the line he achieved that highest form of footballing recognition: the stage at which a player’s name becomes synonymous with their position. The ‘Pirlo role’ is understood worldwide as the one in which he did his best work: sitting in the pocket in front of the defence, picking out passes like an NFL quarterback."

Elsewhere, in a farewell post on, Carlo Garganese sums up Pirlo's unique appeal

"He is adored because he is so unique. Instantly recognisable - with or without his flowing locks and trademark beard - to watch L'architetto (The Architect) effortlessly glide around the pitch, moving the ball and his team-mates like a chess-master and curling home stylish free-kicks is pure beauty."

Okay, here's one more from ESPN FC's James Horncastle:

"A cerebral footballer, he was endowed with a vision and appreciation of time and space that made Pep Guardiola and Xavi want him at Barcelona, and Brazil wish he was Brazilian. His eye for a pass recalls a line from the former Roma and Sampdoria coach Vujadin Boskov. The best players, he liked to say, are those who 'see motorways where others see footpaths.'"

On the other end of the spectrum, there's Jack Harrison, who is still just 20 years old.

Due to a combination of that tender age and the wicked skills he possesses, Harrison was named to's MLS U-21 Best XI and selected as the recipient of their MLS Young Player of the Year honor. 

Also in the Best XI was NYCFC's 19-year old midfielder Yangel Herrera. With two representatives, NYCFC was second only to Real Salt Lake's four players named to the Best XI. 

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