Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti 'changed my career' - Andrea Pirlo
Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo says he is looking forward to meeting Carlo Ancelotti again on Tuesday night, crediting him for making him the player he has become.
Pirlo, 35, spent eight years under Ancelotti's tutelage at AC Milan and it is there where he came of age. Each time Pirlo meets Ancelotti, he only has fond thoughts.
"It's like rediscovering your father again," Pirlo told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He changed my career, putting me in front of the defence. We shared some unforgettable moments. We had a magnificent past together."
The future will see only one of them have the chance of lifting this season's Champions League, and as they prepare to cross paths again, Pirlo is convinced the Bianconeri have as good a chance as any against Ancelotti's Real Madrid.
Having wrapped up a fourth straight Serie A title at the weekend, Juve host the Spaniards in the first leg of their first semifinal since 2003. Then, like now, the opponents were Real, and now, like then, Juve are keen to make the final.
"We've matured a lot these years and the experience we've gained in Europe has helped the team in general," Pirlo said. "In the three seasons under [Antonio] Conte, we were still lacking something -- maybe we just weren't ready -- but this year our belief that we can beat anybody has grown as the season has progressed.
"We play good football, without any fear or concerns. Yes, we are on a par with Real, right to the end. We don't need a miracle. We've got nothing to lose so we go out there with our heads free, pursuing our dream."
Realising that dream could lead to some reflection for Pirlo, who has not ruled out quitting at least the Italian game if he were to get his hands on the Champions League trophy once again.
"It would actually be a dream way to end my time in Turin, by winning the Champions League," he said. "But I wouldn't stop playing altogether. I'm going to continue for as long as I still have the great desire to train every day. Certainly I wouldn't stay in Italy -- Juve will be my last Serie A club no matter what.
"[The United States] is an option, but there's nothing definite yet. I'm still only thinking about Juve, and besides -- let's get our hands on that trophy first and then we'll see."