Maldini, Buffon and Baggio feature in star-studded farewell for Italy legend Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo celebrates with teammates at the end of his testimonial match. (AFP)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Maldini, Buffon and Baggio feature in star-studded farewell for Italy legend Pirlo

  • Filippo Inzaghi scores hat-trick in 7-7 draw
  • Pirlo bows out having won 116 caps for his country

MILAN: Former Italy star Andrea Pirlo took to the pitch for the final time to say goodbye to football in a star-studded testimonial “Night of the Master” tournament at the San Siro on Monday.
Champions and former teammates from all over the world — from Paolo Maldini to Gianluigi Buffon, and Roberto Baggio to Frank Lampard — joined the retiring legend to celebrate the final act of a glittering career.
“I thank my friends and all the people who came to the stadium to enjoy a fantastic evening of entertainment, sport and charity,” the 39-year-old said as he received a standing ovation from 50,000 fans.
Towards the end of the match which finished 7-7 with a hat-trick from former AC Milan and Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi, Pirlo gave his place to his 15-year-old son Nicolo, also a midfielder and who plays for Juventus’s youth team.
“He has fun and I’m happy, he must be happy to play football, it’s the best thing in the world, in the future we’ll see,” said Pirlo.
And there was no lack of coaching talent either on the bench with former AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti leading the ‘White Stars’ team and Juventus’s Massimiliano Allegri in charge of the ‘Blue Stars’.
Italian FA vice-commissioner Alessandro Costacurta, another former AC Milan player, and who has said Pirlo could have a future role in the federation, also took to the pitch.
Pirlo said he was considering coaching.
“I have time to think about what to do. I stopped recently, I don’t miss the pitch. In the future it could be coaching,” he said.
“All my ex-teammates didn’t want to become coaches, yet they’ve all done it.”
Capped 116 times for Italy, Pirlo called time on his illustrious career last November after winning the 2006 World Cup, two Champions League titles and six Serie A trophies.
Pirlo began his career at Brescia and also played for Inter, AC Milan and Juventus before moving to play in New York City FC in the MLS.
“I chose May 21 because 21 is my number and I made my debut in May,” said Pirlo.


Mayweather rematch closer as Pacquiao signs to face ‘top PBC fighters’

Updated 7 min 26 sec ago
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Mayweather rematch closer as Pacquiao signs to face ‘top PBC fighters’

  • Pacquiao said that he was “90 percent” sure a bout with former four-division world champion Adrien Broner would happen in January
  • Unbeaten Mayweather said in September he would come out of retirement to face Pacquiao later this year

MANILA: A potential blockbuster rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather moved a step closer as the Filipino icon confirmed he has signed with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC).
Eight-weight world champion Pacquiao said he would close out his storied career by facing “top PBC fighters” in announcing late Monday the tie-up with influential Mayweather adviser Haymon’s organization.
“My team will work closely with Al Haymon for the remainder of my career to deliver the most anticipated fights with the top PBC fighters,” Pacquiao said in a statement.
“Those are the fights the fans want to see and the ones I want to have to close out my career,” he added.
Pacquiao said last week that he was “90 percent” sure a bout with former four-division world champion Adrien Broner would happen in January, possibly in Las Vegas.
“Pacquiao’s first defense of the World Boxing Association welterweight world title will kick off the new partnership,” Haymon’s PBC said in a statement without giving further details.
“The new alliance will have team Pacquiao and Haymon work together to navigate the remainder of his illustrious career,” it added.
The deal could pave the way for a Pacquiao-Mayweather rematch of the 2015 megafight which generated a record 4.6 million pay-per-view buys earning $600 million and ended with the American winning on points.
Unbeaten Mayweather, who hasn’t fought since knocking out mixed martial artist Conor McGregor last year, said in September he would come out of retirement to face Pacquiao later this year.
The American, 41, has since hinted at taking a warm-up fight first, talking on social media of a “huge boxing event” in Tokyo and then last week said he would be willing to accept a challenge to fight against McGregor’s MMA conqueror Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The deal with Haymon represents a new chapter for the 39-year-old Pacquiao, who has been promoted for the majority of his 20-year professional career by Bob Arum’s Top Rank organization.
“I wish him the best of luck, a tremendous warrior, and whatever he’s doing in the future, he deserves,” Arum said of Pacquiao on Fighthub TV in Las Vegas at the weekend.
Pacquiao pumped new life into his storied career in July when he delivered his first knockout in nine years against Lucas Matthysse of Argentina.
Ahead of the fight against big-punching Matthysse, Pacquiao said he considered himself the “underdog,” but he rolled back the years to register a 60th win and take the Argentine’s WBA welterweight belt.