Andrea Pirlo has been appointed as Juventus manager succeeding Maurizio Sarri who was sacked on Saturday after one year in charge.
Sarri was dismissed despite winning Serie A following the club’s Champions League last-16 defeat by Lyon on Friday.
Pirlo, 41, has signed a two-year deal until 30 June 2022 with the Italian champions.
The World Cup winner was only named Juve U23 manager last month and never took charge of a single U23 game but has now been entrusted with the reins of the first team in a swift and surprising elevation.
“Today, begins a new chapter of [Pirlo’s] career in the world of football, as it was said almost a week ago: from Maestro to Mister,” Juve said on their website.
“From today he will be THE coach for people of Juventus, as the club has decided to entrust him with the technical leadership of the First Team, after having already selected him for Juventus Under 23. Today’s choice is based on the belief that Pirlo has what it takes to lead from his debut on the bench, an expert and talented squad to pursue new successes,” the statement added.
While the announcement is certainly surprising, Pirlo does have a connection with the Italian champions.
He played a total of 164 games for Juventus and won four Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, two Italian Super Cups and reached the final of the Champions League in 2015 after joining from AC Milan, with whom he spent most of his career and won two Champions League and two league titles.
Pirlo represented Italy 116 times and helped them to win the 2006 World Cup. He called time on his career in 2017 following a two-year stint in Major League Soccer with New York City FC after leaving Juventus.
The leftfield appointment is sure to raise eyebrows given Pirlo’s lack of experience, the magnitude of the rebuilding job required at the Turin side and the availability of more experienced hands in Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi and former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino who were thought to be frontrunners for the job.
In any event, Pirlo will view his appointment as Juve boss as the realisation of a dream having declared when he was appointed the club’s U23 boss that he would like to have the same “journey” as Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane.
Guardiola and Zidane both coached Barcelona and Real Madrid’s reserve teams respectively before taking on the main job.
Pirlo who played at Juventus alongside goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who at 42 is older than his new boss has his work cut out for him if he is to match the achievements of Guardiola and Zidane after their elevations to the first team.
He must devise a way of maintaining Juve’s domestic dominance in the face of resurgent opposition from Inter Milan and Lazio while also attempting to end a Champions League drought that has lasted since 1996.