Juventus Midfielder Andrea Pirlo's Top 6 Italy Moments

Adam Digby@@Adz77Featured ColumnistMay 26, 2014

Juventus Midfielder Andrea Pirlo's Top 6 Italy Moments

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    Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

    Andrea Pirlo is undoubtedly one of the finest midfielders of his generation. Few players can match the touch, vision and range of passing displayed by the bearded genius for more than a decade.

    After winning trophy after trophy with Milan, he jumped at the chance to join Juventus three years ago. There, under the guidance of Antonio Conte, Pirlo has thrived and been an integral part of the Bianconeri team that has lifted three consecutive league titles.

    His club success has been incredible to watch, but it is almost rivalled by a superb international career with Italy. Over the following pages are the six best moments Andrea Pirlo has enjoyed with the Azzurri.

6. His international debut

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    Having captained Italy to victory in the Under-21 European Championship in 2000 and to a semi-final two years later, Pirlo was finally ready to represent the full side.

    At the age of 23, he was handed his full international debut by Giovanni Trapattoni in a match against Azerbaijan. 

5. Exerting an Early Influence

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    Having finally made the leap to the full national side, Pirlo would wait two years before scoring his first goal for the Azzurri in a friendly against Tunisia.

    Facing an important qualifier against Scotland at the San Siro in March 2005, he would finally strike his first competitive international goals, netting two trademark free-kicks to hand his team a vital three points. 

4. Leading the Way in 2006

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    Italy are notoriously slow starters in international tournaments.

    However, in 2006, Pirlo would ensure that was not the case.

    In their opening game against Ghana, he would lift the Azzurri to victory, opening the scoring with a superb long-range drive in the first half.

    He would follow that up with an assist for substitute Vincenzo Iaquinta after the break, guaranteeing a winning start for Marcello Lippi's side. 

3. Chipping Joe Hart

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    Pirlo would produce another man-of-the-match performance against England in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

    With the match going to penalties, Pirlo would step up with one of world football's most memorable spot-kicks.

    Facing goalkeeper Joe Hart, the Italian fooled the Englishman with an audacious Panenka chip, completely embarrassing the Manchester City man.

    "I saw the goalkeeper making strange movements," he told reporters, per Football Italia. "I waited for him to move and hit it like that...it was easier for me to chip it at that stage."

2. World Cup Final Brilliance

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    With his nation in the World Cup final, Pirlo would deliver the kind of virtuoso performance with which he is now synonymous.

    Showcasing all his passing ability, it would be his corner kick which led to Marco Materazzi's equalizing header just minutes after France had opened the scoring.

    The match would go to a penalty shootout, in which he also scored.

    Named Man of the Match for a third time in the tournament, Pirlo was voted third-best player of the competition and leading assist maker. 

1. Assisting THAT Fabio Grosso Goal

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    To beat a match-winning performance to top spot takes something special, and it is the iconic Fabio Grosso goal that makes that possible.

    With time ticking down against Germany in the semi-final of the 2006 World Cup, the ball came to Pirlo outside the box and the rest is history.