We all knew it was coming, but it’s still hard to swallow.
Andrea Pirlo – one of the finest midfielders of his generation – has bid farewell to his illustrious playing career.
But instead of focusing on the doom and gloom, lets remember the lighthearted times, yeah?
While the former Milan, Juventus and Italy midfielder is renowned for his style, composure and finesse on and off the pitch – behind the scenes, it seems he was a bit of prankster.
And his fiery old teammate Gennaro Gattuso was usually the target of his high jinks.
In an interview with television show CheTempoCheFa a few years back, the former Milan midfielder said: “You see him, the face of an angel but he is a son of a bitch, always makes jokes, always breaks the boxes, does not stand still.
“One day I was eating at Milanello, I had the bright idea to leave my phone on the table, and he sent a text message to Galliani and [sports manager Ariedo] Braida offering them my sister.”
Pirlo certainly remembers the moment, recounting the tale in his 2014 autobiography I Think Therefore I Play.
He says: “I did the negotiating on his behalf by means of a single message: ‘Dear Ariedo, if you give me what I want, you can have my sister.’
“Gattuso found out and gave me a beating before ringing up Braida: ‘It’s just one of Pirlo’s stupid jokes,’ he said.
“I’ve always wondered if the response was, ‘what a pity!'”
Brutal, but brilliant.
Despite the pranks, it seems Pirlo and Gattuso were good friends who combined to form one of the finest midfield pairings of their generation.
Playing together in that super-successful Milan side of the early-mid 2000s, as well as in the Italy side that lifted the World Cup in 2006, Gattuso was often the guy who did the leg-work, while Pirlo would do the creative stuff.
The often hot-headed Italian even revealed he would pass the ball to Pirlo when he was devoid of ideas on the pitch.
Speaking to Radio 24 earlier this week, he said: “I played with him for about 20 years when you consider the national youth teams.
“In difficult moments I just gave it to him, I always felt assured when I was next to him.
“I understood what I had to do, and he was taking care of the rest.
“He helped me much more in my career than I did him.”