Italian football legend Andrea Pirlo has officially announced his retirement from the game. He played his final match for New York City FC. The 38-year-old started his career at Brescia before joining Inter Milan, AC Milan, and Juventus. He switched to Major League Soccer 2-years ago.
Pirlo said: “Not only is it my adventure in New York comes to an end but my journey as a football player as well,”
“Every team that I had the honor to play for and every team-mate that I have been pleased to play alongside, I thank you”.
The midfield maestro was in the Milan team that lifted 2 Serie A titles, 2 Champions Leagues crowns and a Club World Cup between 2003 and 2011. He was also in the team that lifted 2006 World Cup in Germany.
For those who have been lucky enough to be around in the last thirty years, you will admit that it was the very best time in football history when it comes to midfielders. Great midfielders have graced the beautiful game in a manner not seen before and will probably not be seen for many years to come.
Let us list together six of the best midfielders in the last three decades;
6. Micheal Ballack- Chelsea
The former Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Micheal Ballack is regarded by many as one of the most complete German players of his generation. He could tackle, shoot from a distance, take on players and even master long range passes. His strength in the middle of the park was immense.
- Bundesliga: 2002–03, 2004–05, 2005–06
- DFB-Pokal: 2002–03, 2004–05, 2005–06
- DFB-Ligapokal: 2004
FA Cup: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10
5. Steven Gerrard- Liverpool
Steven Gerrard is yet another English midfielder considered to be one of the best of his generation. He came through Liverpool youth system and went on to become the longest serving Captain for the Reds.
He won the FA Cup twice, League Cup thrice, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 1 Community Shield and 1 UEFA Champions League (Istanbul miracle)
- FA Cup: 2001, 2006
- Football League Cup: 2001,2003,2012
- FA Community Shield: 2006
- UEFA Champions League: 2005
- UEFA Cup: 2001
- UEFA Super Cup: 2001,2005
4. Frank Lampard- Chelsea
Frank Lampard is the all-time Chelsea goal scorer. He represented the Blues for 13 years winning 3 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cup titles, 2 League Cups, 1 Champions League and 1 Europa League crown. He scored 211 goals in 648 appearances for the Club.
Lampard is regarded by many as one of the greatest player in the club history and among the best midfielders of his generation.
- FA Premier League (3): 2004–05, 2005–06, 2009–10
- FA Cup (4): 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2011–12
- Football League Cup (2): 2004–05, 2006–07
- FA Community Shield (2): 2005, 2009
- UEFA Champions League (1): 2011–12
- UEFA Europa League (1): 2012–13
3. Xavi Hernandez- Barcelona
Xavi Hernandez is still playing football, but not for Barcelona anymore. He joined Qatar side Al Sadd SC to finish his career in a warmer climate.
The tiki-taka maestro played 700 matches, made 180 assists and scored 82 goals for the Catalan giants. He is regarded as the best player in the history of Spanish football. He won all the trophies available in the club level.
Xavi became the most capped Spanish player in Barcelona history helping them to win the World Cup (1) and Euros twice.
- La Liga: 1998–99, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15
- Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15
- Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
- UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15
- UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011
2. Paul Scholes- Manchester United
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry said; ‘Scholes is the greatest player in Premier League history’
Former Barcelona midfield maestro Xavi Hernandez said; “The best central midfielder I’ve seen in the last 15, 20 years”
I don’t need to add anything else to those statements, like him or hate him for his tackles, but many fans would agree with Xavi that Scholes was the best. Scholes won 25 trophies at Manchester United.
Paul Scholes is also the most decorated English footballer of all-time.
- Premier League (11): 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2012–13
- FA Cup (3): 1995–96, 1998–99, 2003–04
- Football League Cup (2): 2008–09, 2009–10
- FA Community Shield (5): 1996, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2010
- UEFA Champions League (2):1998–99, 2007–08
- Intercontinental Cup (1): 1999
- FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2008
1. Andreas Pirlo- Juventus/AC Milan
Andreas Pirlo is one of the best free-kick takers of his generation. His touch and vision were simply second to none. He can pick a pass nobody else could, he helped Ac Milan win two Champions League crowns, Coppa Italia, Super Coppa Italiana and FIFA Club World Cup among others.
They sold him to Juventus after concluding he was finished but went on to win 4 more Serie A titles to take his tally to six. He has now announced his retirement after two years playing for Major League Soccer side New York City.
- Serie A: 2003–04, 2010–11
- Coppa Italia: 2002–03
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2004
- UEFA Champions League: 2002–03, 2006–07
- UEFA Super Cup: 2003, 2007
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2007
- Serie A: 2011–12, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15
- Coppa Italia: 2014–15
- Supercoppa Italiana: 2012, 2013