Interview

“Pirlo is a leader”

Dynamo Kyiv coach Mircea Lucescu gave a 16-year-old Andrea Pirlo his Serie A debut in 1995. Here he recalls being impressed as much by his maturity as his skill on the ball

INTERVIEW Paolo Menicucci

The stars aligned on Matchday 1 when Andrea Pirlo’s first game as coach in the Champions League pitted him against Dynamo Kyiv’s Mircea Lucescu, the man who gave him his professional breakthrough as a teenager. Pirlo was just 16 when Lucescu, then coach of Brescia, gave him his first Serie A start 25 years ago and the Romanian has been keeping tabs on his progress ever since. Pirlo’s Juve ran out 2-0 winners on 20 October and Lucescu is convinced, just as he was all those years ago when he first set eyes on him as a player, that he has a bright future ahead of him – this time in the dugout.

What was Andrea Pirlo like as a teenager?

Incredible, mature. Mature like he is now. I remember going to Viareggio to watch a match — he was playing in the youth tournament in Viareggio — and I went home in the car with him. We spoke for two hours. I realised he was a very level-headed guy. I’ve always had a good relationship with talented players. I watched out for him as much as possible. 

When I see that players can have a great career, a long career, in football I protect them from everyone else. During training a player like this, who creates and is instinctive at that age, can cause problems for the older players: intimidate them a little bit so they play a bit harder. I had to stop it all. That period for a young player, or an instinctive player who is inspired like that, leads little by little to becoming a creative player. He went through that period very quickly.

He was also someone who organised everything, which is yet another skill. He’s done this as he’s developed, through his personality. He is a leader. That has helped him a lot to become what he is today: the coach of a wonderful team like Juventus. 

Can you remember the very first time you saw him play?

I was at San Filippo, the youth team’s training ground. He was already playing in the higher categories. Someone had said that there was an exceptional player there, so I went and I realised who it was. He played very simply and then he would create something that [impressed] everyone. He drew attention with everything he did. Then I met him at Inter [both Pirlo and Lucescu joined the Nerazzurri in 1998] and I followed him everywhere he went. I always follow my former players.

I spoke to Pirlo recently and asked him which coaches had inspired him, and he replied straight away: “Lucescu. He’s a maestro.” That was the first thing he said. How does it feel to hear that?

Maybe I’m not! It makes me proud. I must thank him! But it makes me think that when young players make their debuts they never forget it: where it was, which coach it was, what kind of training they were doing. I’ve stayed close to him, even if from afar. I hope he has a great career [as a coach].

What kind of football do you expect from Pirlo’s Juve?

Attacking football, for sure. Attacking but balanced. It won’t just be improvisational. There’s no room for improvisation in the football of today, unless it has a foundation. If there’s a foundation you can improvise as much as you want, but if you want to improvise without a foundation it will be a lot more difficult. After all these years he has an organised style of play in mind that will bring results and success.

He isn’t the only former player of yours who is now a Champions League coach: there’s also Diego Simeone and Okan Buruk, for example. Is there a theme?

They were all midfielders. Midfielders are more suited to becoming coaches as they control the game, whether it’s in attack or in defence. In their relationship with me, player to coach, they impressed me, both of them. So, it’s normal that they’ve become influential coaches. There are also some in Romania and in Ukraine. I think I gave them something important on an educational level. I had them when they were young so [I gave them] professional education, civic education, health education — many things that they need straight away when they come into football. Those things stay with you.

We caught up with Andrea Pirlo to discuss his first steps in coaching. Read Paolo Menicucci’s interview with the Juve boss HERE.

The stars aligned on Matchday 1 when Andrea Pirlo’s first game as coach in the Champions League pitted him against Dynamo Kyiv’s Mircea Lucescu, the man who gave him his professional breakthrough as a teenager. Pirlo was just 16 when Lucescu, then coach of Brescia, gave him his first Serie A start 25 years ago and the Romanian has been keeping tabs on his progress ever since. Pirlo’s Juve ran out 2-0 winners on 20 October and Lucescu is convinced, just as he was all those years ago when he first set eyes on him as a player, that he has a bright future ahead of him – this time in the dugout.

What was Andrea Pirlo like as a teenager?

Incredible, mature. Mature like he is now. I remember going to Viareggio to watch a match — he was playing in the youth tournament in Viareggio — and I went home in the car with him. We spoke for two hours. I realised he was a very level-headed guy. I’ve always had a good relationship with talented players. I watched out for him as much as possible. 

When I see that players can have a great career, a long career, in football I protect them from everyone else. During training a player like this, who creates and is instinctive at that age, can cause problems for the older players: intimidate them a little bit so they play a bit harder. I had to stop it all. That period for a young player, or an instinctive player who is inspired like that, leads little by little to becoming a creative player. He went through that period very quickly.

He was also someone who organised everything, which is yet another skill. He’s done this as he’s developed, through his personality. He is a leader. That has helped him a lot to become what he is today: the coach of a wonderful team like Juventus. 

Can you remember the very first time you saw him play?

I was at San Filippo, the youth team’s training ground. He was already playing in the higher categories. Someone had said that there was an exceptional player there, so I went and I realised who it was. He played very simply and then he would create something that [impressed] everyone. He drew attention with everything he did. Then I met him at Inter [both Pirlo and Lucescu joined the Nerazzurri in 1998] and I followed him everywhere he went. I always follow my former players.

I spoke to Pirlo recently and asked him which coaches had inspired him, and he replied straight away: “Lucescu. He’s a maestro.” That was the first thing he said. How does it feel to hear that?

Maybe I’m not! It makes me proud. I must thank him! But it makes me think that when young players make their debuts they never forget it: where it was, which coach it was, what kind of training they were doing. I’ve stayed close to him, even if from afar. I hope he has a great career [as a coach].

What kind of football do you expect from Pirlo’s Juve?

Attacking football, for sure. Attacking but balanced. It won’t just be improvisational. There’s no room for improvisation in the football of today, unless it has a foundation. If there’s a foundation you can improvise as much as you want, but if you want to improvise without a foundation it will be a lot more difficult. After all these years he has an organised style of play in mind that will bring results and success.

He isn’t the only former player of yours who is now a Champions League coach: there’s also Diego Simeone and Okan Buruk, for example. Is there a theme?

They were all midfielders. Midfielders are more suited to becoming coaches as they control the game, whether it’s in attack or in defence. In their relationship with me, player to coach, they impressed me, both of them. So, it’s normal that they’ve become influential coaches. There are also some in Romania and in Ukraine. I think I gave them something important on an educational level. I had them when they were young so [I gave them] professional education, civic education, health education — many things that they need straight away when they come into football. Those things stay with you.

We caught up with Andrea Pirlo to discuss his first steps in coaching. Read Paolo Menicucci’s interview with the Juve boss HERE.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

The stars aligned on Matchday 1 when Andrea Pirlo’s first game as coach in the Champions League pitted him against Dynamo Kyiv’s Mircea Lucescu, the man who gave him his professional breakthrough as a teenager. Pirlo was just 16 when Lucescu, then coach of Brescia, gave him his first Serie A start 25 years ago and the Romanian has been keeping tabs on his progress ever since. Pirlo’s Juve ran out 2-0 winners on 20 October and Lucescu is convinced, just as he was all those years ago when he first set eyes on him as a player, that he has a bright future ahead of him – this time in the dugout.

What was Andrea Pirlo like as a teenager?

Incredible, mature. Mature like he is now. I remember going to Viareggio to watch a match — he was playing in the youth tournament in Viareggio — and I went home in the car with him. We spoke for two hours. I realised he was a very level-headed guy. I’ve always had a good relationship with talented players. I watched out for him as much as possible. 

When I see that players can have a great career, a long career, in football I protect them from everyone else. During training a player like this, who creates and is instinctive at that age, can cause problems for the older players: intimidate them a little bit so they play a bit harder. I had to stop it all. That period for a young player, or an instinctive player who is inspired like that, leads little by little to becoming a creative player. He went through that period very quickly.

He was also someone who organised everything, which is yet another skill. He’s done this as he’s developed, through his personality. He is a leader. That has helped him a lot to become what he is today: the coach of a wonderful team like Juventus. 

Can you remember the very first time you saw him play?

I was at San Filippo, the youth team’s training ground. He was already playing in the higher categories. Someone had said that there was an exceptional player there, so I went and I realised who it was. He played very simply and then he would create something that [impressed] everyone. He drew attention with everything he did. Then I met him at Inter [both Pirlo and Lucescu joined the Nerazzurri in 1998] and I followed him everywhere he went. I always follow my former players.

I spoke to Pirlo recently and asked him which coaches had inspired him, and he replied straight away: “Lucescu. He’s a maestro.” That was the first thing he said. How does it feel to hear that?

Maybe I’m not! It makes me proud. I must thank him! But it makes me think that when young players make their debuts they never forget it: where it was, which coach it was, what kind of training they were doing. I’ve stayed close to him, even if from afar. I hope he has a great career [as a coach].

What kind of football do you expect from Pirlo’s Juve?

Attacking football, for sure. Attacking but balanced. It won’t just be improvisational. There’s no room for improvisation in the football of today, unless it has a foundation. If there’s a foundation you can improvise as much as you want, but if you want to improvise without a foundation it will be a lot more difficult. After all these years he has an organised style of play in mind that will bring results and success.

He isn’t the only former player of yours who is now a Champions League coach: there’s also Diego Simeone and Okan Buruk, for example. Is there a theme?

They were all midfielders. Midfielders are more suited to becoming coaches as they control the game, whether it’s in attack or in defence. In their relationship with me, player to coach, they impressed me, both of them. So, it’s normal that they’ve become influential coaches. There are also some in Romania and in Ukraine. I think I gave them something important on an educational level. I had them when they were young so [I gave them] professional education, civic education, health education — many things that they need straight away when they come into football. Those things stay with you.

We caught up with Andrea Pirlo to discuss his first steps in coaching. Read Paolo Menicucci’s interview with the Juve boss HERE.

“Pirlo is a leader”
Interview

“Pirlo is a leader”

Dynamo Kyiv coach Mircea Lucescu gave a 16-year-old Andrea Pirlo his Serie A debut in 1995. Here he recalls being impressed as much by his maturity as his skill on the ball

INTERVIEW Paolo Menicucci

The stars aligned on Matchday 1 when Andrea Pirlo’s first game as coach in the Champions League pitted him against Dynamo Kyiv’s Mircea Lucescu, the man who gave him his professional breakthrough as a teenager. Pirlo was just 16 when Lucescu, then coach of Brescia, gave him his first Serie A start 25 years ago and the Romanian has been keeping tabs on his progress ever since. Pirlo’s Juve ran out 2-0 winners on 20 October and Lucescu is convinced, just as he was all those years ago when he first set eyes on him as a player, that he has a bright future ahead of him – this time in the dugout.

What was Andrea Pirlo like as a teenager?

Incredible, mature. Mature like he is now. I remember going to Viareggio to watch a match — he was playing in the youth tournament in Viareggio — and I went home in the car with him. We spoke for two hours. I realised he was a very level-headed guy. I’ve always had a good relationship with talented players. I watched out for him as much as possible. 

When I see that players can have a great career, a long career, in football I protect them from everyone else. During training a player like this, who creates and is instinctive at that age, can cause problems for the older players: intimidate them a little bit so they play a bit harder. I had to stop it all. That period for a young player, or an instinctive player who is inspired like that, leads little by little to becoming a creative player. He went through that period very quickly.

He was also someone who organised everything, which is yet another skill. He’s done this as he’s developed, through his personality. He is a leader. That has helped him a lot to become what he is today: the coach of a wonderful team like Juventus. 

Can you remember the very first time you saw him play?

I was at San Filippo, the youth team’s training ground. He was already playing in the higher categories. Someone had said that there was an exceptional player there, so I went and I realised who it was. He played very simply and then he would create something that [impressed] everyone. He drew attention with everything he did. Then I met him at Inter [both Pirlo and Lucescu joined the Nerazzurri in 1998] and I followed him everywhere he went. I always follow my former players.

I spoke to Pirlo recently and asked him which coaches had inspired him, and he replied straight away: “Lucescu. He’s a maestro.” That was the first thing he said. How does it feel to hear that?

Maybe I’m not! It makes me proud. I must thank him! But it makes me think that when young players make their debuts they never forget it: where it was, which coach it was, what kind of training they were doing. I’ve stayed close to him, even if from afar. I hope he has a great career [as a coach].

What kind of football do you expect from Pirlo’s Juve?

Attacking football, for sure. Attacking but balanced. It won’t just be improvisational. There’s no room for improvisation in the football of today, unless it has a foundation. If there’s a foundation you can improvise as much as you want, but if you want to improvise without a foundation it will be a lot more difficult. After all these years he has an organised style of play in mind that will bring results and success.

He isn’t the only former player of yours who is now a Champions League coach: there’s also Diego Simeone and Okan Buruk, for example. Is there a theme?

They were all midfielders. Midfielders are more suited to becoming coaches as they control the game, whether it’s in attack or in defence. In their relationship with me, player to coach, they impressed me, both of them. So, it’s normal that they’ve become influential coaches. There are also some in Romania and in Ukraine. I think I gave them something important on an educational level. I had them when they were young so [I gave them] professional education, civic education, health education — many things that they need straight away when they come into football. Those things stay with you.

We caught up with Andrea Pirlo to discuss his first steps in coaching. Read Paolo Menicucci’s interview with the Juve boss HERE.

Penalty Pedigree

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The stars aligned on Matchday 1 when Andrea Pirlo’s first game as coach in the Champions League pitted him against Dynamo Kyiv’s Mircea Lucescu, the man who gave him his professional breakthrough as a teenager. Pirlo was just 16 when Lucescu, then coach of Brescia, gave him his first Serie A start 25 years ago and the Romanian has been keeping tabs on his progress ever since. Pirlo’s Juve ran out 2-0 winners on 20 October and Lucescu is convinced, just as he was all those years ago when he first set eyes on him as a player, that he has a bright future ahead of him – this time in the dugout.

What was Andrea Pirlo like as a teenager?

Incredible, mature. Mature like he is now. I remember going to Viareggio to watch a match — he was playing in the youth tournament in Viareggio — and I went home in the car with him. We spoke for two hours. I realised he was a very level-headed guy. I’ve always had a good relationship with talented players. I watched out for him as much as possible. 

When I see that players can have a great career, a long career, in football I protect them from everyone else. During training a player like this, who creates and is instinctive at that age, can cause problems for the older players: intimidate them a little bit so they play a bit harder. I had to stop it all. That period for a young player, or an instinctive player who is inspired like that, leads little by little to becoming a creative player. He went through that period very quickly.

He was also someone who organised everything, which is yet another skill. He’s done this as he’s developed, through his personality. He is a leader. That has helped him a lot to become what he is today: the coach of a wonderful team like Juventus. 

Can you remember the very first time you saw him play?

I was at San Filippo, the youth team’s training ground. He was already playing in the higher categories. Someone had said that there was an exceptional player there, so I went and I realised who it was. He played very simply and then he would create something that [impressed] everyone. He drew attention with everything he did. Then I met him at Inter [both Pirlo and Lucescu joined the Nerazzurri in 1998] and I followed him everywhere he went. I always follow my former players.

I spoke to Pirlo recently and asked him which coaches had inspired him, and he replied straight away: “Lucescu. He’s a maestro.” That was the first thing he said. How does it feel to hear that?

Maybe I’m not! It makes me proud. I must thank him! But it makes me think that when young players make their debuts they never forget it: where it was, which coach it was, what kind of training they were doing. I’ve stayed close to him, even if from afar. I hope he has a great career [as a coach].

What kind of football do you expect from Pirlo’s Juve?

Attacking football, for sure. Attacking but balanced. It won’t just be improvisational. There’s no room for improvisation in the football of today, unless it has a foundation. If there’s a foundation you can improvise as much as you want, but if you want to improvise without a foundation it will be a lot more difficult. After all these years he has an organised style of play in mind that will bring results and success.

He isn’t the only former player of yours who is now a Champions League coach: there’s also Diego Simeone and Okan Buruk, for example. Is there a theme?

They were all midfielders. Midfielders are more suited to becoming coaches as they control the game, whether it’s in attack or in defence. In their relationship with me, player to coach, they impressed me, both of them. So, it’s normal that they’ve become influential coaches. There are also some in Romania and in Ukraine. I think I gave them something important on an educational level. I had them when they were young so [I gave them] professional education, civic education, health education — many things that they need straight away when they come into football. Those things stay with you.

We caught up with Andrea Pirlo to discuss his first steps in coaching. Read Paolo Menicucci’s interview with the Juve boss HERE.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

The stars aligned on Matchday 1 when Andrea Pirlo’s first game as coach in the Champions League pitted him against Dynamo Kyiv’s Mircea Lucescu, the man who gave him his professional breakthrough as a teenager. Pirlo was just 16 when Lucescu, then coach of Brescia, gave him his first Serie A start 25 years ago and the Romanian has been keeping tabs on his progress ever since. Pirlo’s Juve ran out 2-0 winners on 20 October and Lucescu is convinced, just as he was all those years ago when he first set eyes on him as a player, that he has a bright future ahead of him – this time in the dugout.

What was Andrea Pirlo like as a teenager?

Incredible, mature. Mature like he is now. I remember going to Viareggio to watch a match — he was playing in the youth tournament in Viareggio — and I went home in the car with him. We spoke for two hours. I realised he was a very level-headed guy. I’ve always had a good relationship with talented players. I watched out for him as much as possible. 

When I see that players can have a great career, a long career, in football I protect them from everyone else. During training a player like this, who creates and is instinctive at that age, can cause problems for the older players: intimidate them a little bit so they play a bit harder. I had to stop it all. That period for a young player, or an instinctive player who is inspired like that, leads little by little to becoming a creative player. He went through that period very quickly.

He was also someone who organised everything, which is yet another skill. He’s done this as he’s developed, through his personality. He is a leader. That has helped him a lot to become what he is today: the coach of a wonderful team like Juventus. 

Can you remember the very first time you saw him play?

I was at San Filippo, the youth team’s training ground. He was already playing in the higher categories. Someone had said that there was an exceptional player there, so I went and I realised who it was. He played very simply and then he would create something that [impressed] everyone. He drew attention with everything he did. Then I met him at Inter [both Pirlo and Lucescu joined the Nerazzurri in 1998] and I followed him everywhere he went. I always follow my former players.

I spoke to Pirlo recently and asked him which coaches had inspired him, and he replied straight away: “Lucescu. He’s a maestro.” That was the first thing he said. How does it feel to hear that?

Maybe I’m not! It makes me proud. I must thank him! But it makes me think that when young players make their debuts they never forget it: where it was, which coach it was, what kind of training they were doing. I’ve stayed close to him, even if from afar. I hope he has a great career [as a coach].

What kind of football do you expect from Pirlo’s Juve?

Attacking football, for sure. Attacking but balanced. It won’t just be improvisational. There’s no room for improvisation in the football of today, unless it has a foundation. If there’s a foundation you can improvise as much as you want, but if you want to improvise without a foundation it will be a lot more difficult. After all these years he has an organised style of play in mind that will bring results and success.

He isn’t the only former player of yours who is now a Champions League coach: there’s also Diego Simeone and Okan Buruk, for example. Is there a theme?

They were all midfielders. Midfielders are more suited to becoming coaches as they control the game, whether it’s in attack or in defence. In their relationship with me, player to coach, they impressed me, both of them. So, it’s normal that they’ve become influential coaches. There are also some in Romania and in Ukraine. I think I gave them something important on an educational level. I had them when they were young so [I gave them] professional education, civic education, health education — many things that they need straight away when they come into football. Those things stay with you.

We caught up with Andrea Pirlo to discuss his first steps in coaching. Read Paolo Menicucci’s interview with the Juve boss HERE.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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