Andrea Pirlo has not included both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as he picked his all-time dream World Cup team.The recently retired Italian maestro was asked to name his greatest ever six-a-side team based on performances at past World Cups. And there was no spot for either Messi or Ronaldo, both of whom haven’t always shone at the three World Cups they have appeared in, respectively.
In goalkeeping, I would choose Gianluigi Buffon,” Pirlo told ahead of Russia 2018 worldcup.
“Buffon is the best goalkeeper of all time. He can be considered the best because he has played for over 20 years at the same very high level.
“I would put Paolo Maldini in defence and I would have to pick myself in midfield, of course. “Then in attack I would have Ronaldo – the Brazilian Ronaldo that is – along with Diego Maradona and Pele.”
Pirlo played in three World Cups for Italy and was one of the stars of the 2006 edition as the Azzurri lifted the cup in Germany.
“It was unbelievable,” the former Milan and Juventus ace recalled.
“To win the World Cup is the best thing that can happen to you as a footballer. It happened to me and it was probably the best moment of my career.”
Pirlo was named man-of-the-match as Italy beat France on penalties, assisting Marco Materazzi’s goal and also scoring his spot-kick in the shootout.
During that shootout, Pirlo was famously seen hugging captain Fabio Cannavaro as Fabio Grosso stepped up to take the fifth penalty that would win Italy the cup. So what were they saying to one another?
“It was a moment filled with such tension so I was hugging Cannavaro and asking him if we would win the cup if Grosso scored,” Pirlo explained.
“There was so much pressure that I really didn’t know what the situation was!”
Four years later, though, Italy’s defence of their World Cup title proved to be a disaster in South Africa.
They failed to win a game in a group consisting of Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia – exiting the tournament after losing to the latter in their final pool match.
So what went wrong?
“Italy went into the 2010 World Cup not in the best condition,” Pirlo admitted.
“I was injured going into the tournament and only managed to play 20 minutes of the last group game against Slovakia.
“It wasn’t a great World Cup for Italy. Buffon also got injured in the first game [against Paraguay] and couldn’t play after. It’s just a pity because Italy could have gone far.”
Without Pirlo, who won 116 caps for his country, Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.