Andrea Pirlo thanks New York City FC after final game as a player
Italy legend Andrea Pirlo thanked New York City FC and its fans on Monday, a day after playing in his final game before retirement.
The 38-year-old had said last month that he intended to retire at the end of the Major League Soccer season and posted a farewell message on social media after his side lost to Columbus Crew SC in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Pirlo, a 2006 World Cup winner with Italy, wrote on Twitter: "Last match in MLS. As my time in NYFC comes to an end I would to say few words. I want to thank everybody for the kindness and support they have shown me in this incredible city.
"Thank you to the amazing supporters, thank you to the coaching staff and everybody that work behind the scene, thank you to my teammates.
"Not only my adventure in NY comes to an end but my journey as a football player as well, that is why I would like to take the opportunity to thank my family and my children for the support and love they always give me, every team that I had the honor to play for, every teammate I have been pleased to play alongside, all the people that made my career such incredible and last but not least, all the fans around the world that always showed me support. You will always be on my side and in my heart."
An NYCFC statement added: "Andrea Pirlo has officially announced his retirement from soccer. Bringing the curtain down on a glittering 22-year top-flight career, Il Maestro made his final New York City FC appearance in Sunday's 2-0 win over Columbus Crew SC.
"A World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, Andrea will be remembered as one of the finest registas in the history of the game and hangs up his cleats following 60 regular season appearances for City.
"Everyone at New York City FC would like to congratulate Andrea on an incredible career and to thank him for his excellent contribution to NYCFC over the past two-and-a-half years."
After starting his career with Brescia and Inter Milan, Pirlo joined AC Milan in 2001 and while there won the Champions League twice and Serie A twice. During his time with the Rossoneri he also won the Coppa Italia and the Club World Cup.
After 10 seasons with Milan, he was allowed to join Juventus on a free transfer and spent four seasons there, winning another four Serie A titles and another Coppa Italia as well as reaching the 2015 Champions League final.
Juventus said on Twitter: "A true genius of the Beautiful Game played his final match yesterday. It's been an honor to share the journey with you. Grazie, Maestro."
Pirlo had not played in an NYCFC game since Sept. 23, but coach Patrick Vieria put him on in the 90th minute on Sunday with his team needing one goal to beat Columbus on aggregate.
Pirlo could not find a teammate on two lobbed balls toward the box in stoppage time, and his career ended with the final whistle.
"I think [Pirlo] has meant a lot to this football club," Vieira said after the match. "He's been a professional. He's been a really good example for the young players that we have on our team and if they conduct themselves like Andrea, I think they will have a good career."
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