Now that’s a game of five-a-side! Italy legend Andrea Pirlo surprises group of amateur players in New York with the Champions League trophy… then takes them to a local bar for a beer!
- Andrea Pirlo went to New York on Heineken’s Champions League Trophy Tour
- He was back in the US after finishing his playing career with New York City FC
- The Italy legend surprised amateur players with the Champions League trophy
- Pirlo also took them for a beer and attended NYCFC’s draw against Orlando
- He told Sportsmail why spreading the competition worldwide is so important
This is the moment legendary midfielder Andrea Pirlo surprised a group of unsuspecting amateur footballers in New York – and then coached them through their weekly game of five-a-side.
And if that wasn’t enough, the former AC Milan star even took the teams to a local bar and got the beers in after showing off the skills which made him one of Italy’s greatest-ever players.
Pirlo was back in the Big Apple – the city in which he ended his 22-year career – for Heineken’s Champions League Trophy Tour, which gives fans around the world the opportunity to see the famous cup in person in the build-up to the final.
Andrea Pirlo returned to New York City with Heineken’s Champions League Trophy Tour
After visiting South Africa, Namibia, Idonesia, China and Nigeria, the tour made its penultimate stop across the pond to give thousands of lucky New Yorkers the chance to experience – and in some cases pose with – the silverware which Liverpool and Tottenham will be competing for in Madrid next month.
The day before giving some locals the shock of their lives, Pirlo made an emotional return to his old club, New York City FC, for their Major League Soccer fixture with Orlando City.
Having won the Champions League twice with Milan and played the final two seasons of his illustrious career in the States, there was no better man to parade the trophy around Yankee Stadium prior to kick-off.
Pirlo helped raise the profile of MLS after arriving from Juventus in 2015 and he is clearly still held in high regard by the supporters, who gave him a rousing ovation and sung his name.
After watching his former club fight back to earn a 1-1 draw, Pirlo’s next mission was to give a smaller group of fans a more intimate look at the trophy – and an evening they’ll never forget.
Having been at the 54,000-seat home of the Yankees 24 hours earlier, the Italian arrived at more modest surroundings in the shape of Asphalt Green – an artificial football pitch on the Upper East Side of the city.
It was here that he left four local teams stunned after interrupting what they believed was simply a photoshoot as part of the Trophy Tour.
After shaking hands and posing for selfies with the delighted players, Pirlo couldn’t resist grabbing a ball and rolling back the years with a series of pinpoint free-kicks past one starstruck goalkeeper.
He then stood on the touchline, shouting advice and cheering on those taking part as they tried to impress the six-time Serie A winner with their own skills.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the group even got the chance to see the Champions League trophy up close and personal before posing for an unmissable photo with Pirlo lifting the giant cup.
Asked why bringing the trophy to fans around the world is so significant, the Italian told Sportsmail: ‘It’s important because the Champions League is the most prestigious trophy for clubs. People outside of Europe understand how much it means.
‘When I was playing in the US, many, many people watch the games. To see the trophy in the US and in New York in this moment, it’s very nice. They understand how important it is.’
After sinking a few bottles of beer with the teams at local bar Ryan’s Daughter, Pirlo joined another group of US fans the following day to demonstrate exactly what he’d been talking about.
The 2006 World Cup winner was the guest of honour at a special viewing of the semi-final first leg between Tottenham and Ajax in the city’s trendy Seaport District.
To follow the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour Presented by Heineken® on social, visit @Heineken and use #Unmissable and #UCLTrophyTour.