Andrea Pirlo

By Taiwo Okanlawon

Serie A champions Juventus have named their former player and World Cup-winning midfielder Andrea Pirlo as manager on a two-year contract.

The appointment has come even in spite of the fact that their former player has no previous experience in the role.

Pirlo, 41, was promoted to the senior job one week after being named coach of Juve’s under-23 side, who play in the Italian third tier.

He has not taken charge of a match.

The decision came hours after the Turin club sacked coach Maurizio Sarri following their UEFA Champions League last 16 exit to Olympique Lyonnais on away goals on Friday.

Former Chelsea manager Sarri had been in charge of the club for one season and led Juventus to a ninth successive Serie A title.

He still fell well short of the enormous expectations at the club, who have set their hearts on winning the UEFA Champions League.

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The presence of five-times World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo in attack has increased expectations.

“Today’s choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes,” Juve said in a statement.

“Today begins a new chapter of his career in the world of football, as it was said almost a week ago: from Maestro to Mister,” it added.

Juventus may be hoping Pirlo can replicate the achievements of Zinedine Zidane, another former world class player who has enjoyed success at Real Madrid in spite of having no previous coaching experience.

Ex-Juve player Zidane has won two La Liga and three UEFA Champions League titles in two stints with the Spanish side since he was first handed the reins.

“The decision for Pirlo was very natural, in the Juventus style, because he is someone who played for us, has always been in contact with everyone here and it felt natural,” said the club’s chief football officer Fabio Paratici.

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“We also believe he is pre-destined for greatness. He was as a player and we are confident he can do the same as a coach.”

Pirlo, a somewhat enigmatic figure, became famous in his role as a deep-lying playmaker, spraying pinpoint passes all over the pitch from his slot just in front of the defence.

He won just about every possible honour, reaching a peak by lifting the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006.

Pirlo won the UEFA Champions League twice with AC Milan, Serie A twice with AC Milan and four times with Juventus.

He also won FIFA Club World Cup with AC Milan, the Coppa Italia with AC Milan and Juve, plus Serie B as a youngster with Brescia.

Having been developed at Brescia, he spent the bulk of his career at AC Milan and then Juventus.

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But he also had a short stint at Inter Milan, played on loan at Reggina and finished his playing career at New York City in Major League Soccer.

Pirlo will have to deal with huge expectations at Juve where winning Serie A is now seen almost as an obligation.

The Turin club have clearly set their hearts on winning the Champions League but it has proved elusive with Juve having lost in the 2015 and 2017 finals.

Reuters/NAN