After four seasons with Juventus, in which he had won the Serie A title each year, Italy international Andrea Pirlo said he can't wait to play in the Bronx for Major League Soccer side New York City FC.
The club's third and final designated player attended Sunday's game at Yankee Stadium, his move from Juventus was made official on Monday and he is expected to debut on July 26 against Kaka and Orlando.
"The stadium is iconic and really gives you a shiver as you walk in," Pirlo told the NYCFC website. "I can't wait to be on the pitch and play in this stadium. I have seen that this is a difficult league and the team is good."
Pirlo joins Frank Lampard and David Villa as a Champions League winner, although he was unable to win that competition for a third time as Juve were beaten in June's final by Barcelona. That would have been a perfect way to bow out of the Bianconeri, but he nevertheless felt now was the right time to make this move.
- New York City FC (@NYCFC) July 7, 2015
"I have been wanting this experience for a long time and now that the opportunity materialized I wanted to take it," Pirlo told NYCFC.com. "This is a club on the rise and shares my same hunger to achieve important results in the league. I hope to win.
"I had several opportunities to play outside of Italy, but I never had a doubt in picking New York for the enthusiasm of the people that come watch the team.
"I met with the coach, Jason Kreis, and he gave me a fantastic impression of the club. He has well defined ideas in mind, and I am sure we will get on well and create a good relationship to train well and try to win together."
Pirlo is due to return to New York on July 21 and the club has said he could make his debut at Yankee Stadium against Orlando on July 26. Kreis, NYCFC's coach, said he cannot wait to work with 'Il Maestro.'
"We said from the outset that the right player for the third DP slot was worth waiting for. Nobody could question that in Pirlo we are bringing one of the best in the world and one of the finest players to come to MLS. Like David Villa, his final game in Europe was the Champions League Final, which demonstrates a player competing at the highest level of our sport," Kreis said.
"We are getting a player with a competitive spirit and a winning mentality. He's not only won a World Cup, he was the Serie A Player of the Year in three of the last four seasons."
Pirlo joined Juve on a free transfer from AC Milan and made 164 appearances for the Turin club, scoring 19 goals. In addition to the four league titles he won in Piedmont, he lifted the Coppa Italia with them last May. His NYC FC contract is worth a reported $6 million.