Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo chips in with attack on 'conservative' England side

Italy midfielder claims Hodgson's 'careful' and negative team was playing for penalties

Krakow

There is a great story that the Italian press tell about Andrea Pirlo's grandfather, from Sinti – a Romani population – moving to the country for the first time from eastern Europe and presenting himself at the local town hall to register as a citizen.

In an act of mockery, and because grandfather Pirlo could not speak Italian well, a local official told him that his name would be "Pirlo" because the word is close to "pirla", roughly equivalent to "dickhead" in modern Italian. It was a cruel trick to play but the name, which is unusual to Italian ears, remained. Two generations on, however, the joke is not on the Pirlos anymore. The joke yesterday at Italy's Casa Azzurri HQ here in Krakow was on the English.

The Italians have moved on from their victory on penalties against England on Sunday night towards tomorrow's semi-final against Germany in Warsaw. Yesterday, however, on the occasions that the discussion returned to the game in Kiev, Pirlo was unsparing when it came to England's performance. He thought that Roy Hodgson's team played without imagination or ambition and got what they deserved.

Pirlo appears considerably older than his 33 years and is, to look at, a strange mix of Alan Rickman and Javier Bardem. He has been around long enough that he does not worry too much about who he upsets and his analysis of England was not one from the school of diplomacy.

"England played in a very conservative and careful way," Pirlo said. "They were sitting back for all the match like Chelsea did in the Champions League final. They tried to keep that same shape. As far as they were concerned, getting as far as the penalty shoot-out was already a good result for them.

"There have been many games in the past when I've had as much possession as against England. In football it happens. The difference is against Germany I expect [Mesut] Ozil to be a great threat in and around the areas where I am playing, while on Sunday, [Wayne] Rooney stayed further up the field. Ozil will play in the same areas, although he will not necessarily do a man-marking job on me.

"We have to take advantage of our quality and our technique. This is the only way we can win the semi-final. Unlike England, Germany pose many threats to our defence."

The outrageously cheeky penalty that Pirlo chipped past Joe Hart with his team trailing in the shoot-out is known in Italian as a cucchiaio and according to the Italian reporters in Krakow yesterday, the midfielder mastered the art as a teenager at Brescia's academy. Pirlo, as he had done after the game, did not try to dismiss the significance of the way in which he scored.

"It was really relevant to the match and our win. This changed the course of the game. In my opinion, Hart seemed to be very confident in himself and, scoring against him this way, it did seem to be a psychological blow. I needed to do something to beat him. Penalties are a very personal thing.

"When you have to shoot a penalty you have to be confident in yourself. I didn't say anything special to my team-mates. We have the same character and determination as Juventus. We are united as a group."

In an Italy team that has struggled for goals at times, Pirlo has become the star. Yesterday, a member of the Italian media said that his naturally non-communicative nature suggested that perhaps he was a bit mad and that might be some kind of explanation for why he took such a risky penalty.

"Look it was not folly. It was not madness," Pirlo said. "I felt like doing that thing at that moment in time. I don't think I was mad when I hit this penalty. I just had this moment of inspiration before I took it."

Pirlo has been around for years. He won the World Cup in 2006 as well as three Serie A titles, including last season's with Juventus, and two Champions League titles but he is currently the man of the moment at Euro 2012. Not bad for a player who was given a free transfer by Milan last summer when his request for a new three-year deal was turned down.

It is true that the space that England gave him on Sunday contributed to the strength of his performance. The Germans will not be so generous. There was even talk yesterday of Pirlo winning the Ballon d'Or, which he dismissed out of hand on the basis that "Ronaldo and Messi score 60-70 goals a season, one of those two will win it every time."

Nevertheless, this is some encore for Pirlo to a brilliant career and he is determined to finish in style. "We have watched all the Germany games," he said yesterday. "They are a great team. They always go all the way to the end. But we started training today and we know how to beat them. We know they are difficult team to beat. But we know we can do it."

 

Suggested Topics
News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album