Andrea Pirlo retires after 22-year career
By Mu Dan
Italian World Cup winner Andrea Pirlo brought down the curtain on his glittering football career on Monday, signing off with a message on Twitter hours after coming on as a late substitute for Major League Soccer side New York City in their 2-0 win over Columbus Crew. 
"Not only my adventure in NY comes to an end, but my journey as a football player as well," Pirlo, who has 116 caps for his country, said in the message.
The midfielder made his senior debut for his hometown club Brescia at the age of 16 before moving to Inter Milan in 1998. 
He struggled to nail down a starting place at Inter and was signed by city rivals AC Milan in 2001. Milan won the Champions League and Italian Cup in 2003 with Pirlo pulling the strings, and the team won the Serie A title the following year as he continued to blossom in the "regista" role that has since become synonymous with his name. 
AC Milan celebrate after winning the UEFA Champions League title in 2003/VCG photo

AC Milan celebrate after winning the UEFA Champions League title in 2003/VCG photo

By the time he won the World Cup, Pirlo was being hailed as the world's best playmaker and when his form at Milan began to decline, he was offered a move to Juventus. 
He enjoyed a renaissance at the Turin club, leading the Old Lady in his debut season to the first of four consecutive Serie A titles, before moving to the United States in July of 2015. Pirlo helped New York City reach the MLS play-offs in each of the past two seasons, but was unable to add to his trophy haul with the club. "Andrea Pirlo is the most Brazilian player of all Europeans. He's the first player on the paper if I had to make a dream team,” said former Brazil coach Dunga.
CGTN Photo

CGTN Photo

The 38-year-old has won almost every major title for club and country – six Scudettos as Serie A champions, two Champions Leagues, the 2006 World Cup he won with Italy while being named Man of the Match in the final, as well as a host of other individual trophies and honors accumulated over more than 20 years. 
"I would like to... thank my family... every team I had the honour to play for, every team mate I have been pleased to play alongside, all the people who made my career so incredible," he said. "You will always be on my side and in my heart."
Some insiders believe Pirlo would have won the Ballon d'Or in 2012 had Italy not lost that year's final of the European Championship – the one elite trophy to elude him.