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Andrea Pirlo on wine tasting, Lampard and Gerrard, and why he loves the PlayStation

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Andrea Pirlo on wine tasting, the world’s greatest invention (PlayStation) and settling in at New York City FC 

You’ve just moved to New York after spending your whole career in Italy. How do US fans compare to their Italian counterparts in the style stakes?
If you think about cities associated with fashion, New York will be one of the first cities that comes to mind. When it comes to style, I don’t think New York needs to feel intimidated by anybody.

New York is a slightly more intense city than Brescia, Milan or Turin. Are you worried about adapting to the new pace of life?
I am excited about New York living, it is one of the most iconic cities in the world. I am excited to start playing in MLS, and for success with the team, but 
I want to immerse myself into New York, to live like a New Yorker.

Frank Lampard is your new teammate. Who’ll be taking the free-kicks and penalties?
Throughout his career, Frank has positioned himself as one of the greatest goal-scoring midfield players of the generation. Often his tally for the season would be what you would expect from a forward. I am sure we can come to some agreement on set pieces…

Which English player past or present is most comparable to the way you play?
Paul Scholes was technically one of the best I have seen – not just one of the best Englishmen, but quite simply just one of the best. There was a point when England had Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard, and Steven Gerrard, and that was the stage when you looked at England and thought they could really win something.

Who’s been the toughest English opponent you’ve faced over the years?
That night in Istanbul, Liverpool’s fight back was centralised on Steven Gerrard. He was their leader, their star player, their man who made it happen. Carlo [Ancelotti] tried to sign him for Milan so we could play together, but he had no interest in leaving Liverpool. We could have played together, but now in MLS we will be playing against each other, and I will look forward to that.

How exactly did Milan lose to Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul? Do you still have nightmares about it?
It was the worst experience of my career. I would not say that I still have nightmares, but I still use that game as inspiration, as a reminder that a game is never won. That was our problem that night, at half-time we thought we had won the Champions League. Now if we are winning 3-0 with five minutes left, I know that game is not won. 

You were teammates with David Beckham at Milan. Is he the most stylish Englishman? 
David is one of the most stylish men that the world has, and when he was at the club it must have been the only time an Englishman was the best dressed person in the city of Milan.

How much rivalry was there between you, Beckham and Ronaldinho over the free-kicks at Milan? And who was the best out of you three for a night out?
When the three of us were in the same team there were so many options over free-kicks, but it was a good option to have. On a night out? Oh definitely Ronaldinho, David and myself would be in bed by 12.

Who was your wildest former teammate – Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Mario Balotelli?
I’ll tell you that Mario is one of the nicest guys you will meet. I used to walk into training in Italy and even before he said something I could just look at his face and I would start laughing. There are never boring moments when Mario is around. He made mistakes when he was younger, he knows this, but I hope next season goes well for him, because I still believe he has all the attributes to be one of the top forwards in Europe.

Who would you have wanted to play for most in the Premier League? Is it true you nearly moved to Chelsea?
Occasionally you meet somebody in life who is not your father, but you look at them as a father, and Carlo [Ancelotti] was that man for me. When he was at Chelsea we had many calls about me joining him. I was interested, and there were discussions in the club. The fee was the ultimate issue, though – Milan wanted a Chelsea player in exchange and no agreement could be reached. 

It was close, though. Roy Hodgson was your coach at Inter. Is it true he mispronounced your name and called you a dickhead by mistake?
It was unintentional – he just mispronounced my name, but yes he did. 

You’re a big PlayStation fan – who do you play as on Fifa?
I play as many teams, and I still say the PlayStation is one of the world’s great inventions. When you are a football player, and you have finished training by 2, but you cannot go out, you understand what an invention it is. 

Finally, as a wine connoisseur, what tips would you give to first-time winemakers?
Just enjoy it, like you would with any passion. I have been around vineyards since I was a small child, so that’s where my passion comes from. One thing I do not like about wine is the pretention around it. When I retire I want to expand our vineyard and make it a tourist attraction, not for the elite, but for everybody, so all can enjoy the great wine our region has to offer.

[Images: Getty, Shaun Botterill]

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