Pirlo to end Italy career after 2014 World Cup

ROME Fri May 3, 2013 1:55pm BST

Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller (R) and Andrea Pirlo of Juventus fight for the ball during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match at the Juventus stadium in Turin April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller (R) and Andrea Pirlo of Juventus fight for the ball during their Champions League quarter-final second leg soccer match at the Juventus stadium in Turin April 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo

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ROME (Reuters) - Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo has announced he will retire from international football after next year's World Cup in Brazil.

"In 2014 I will stop playing for the national team, and I think that the World Cup will be my last appointment with the blue shirt of Italy - space needs to be given to younger players," said the 33-year old at the presentation of his autobiography in Turin on Thursday.

"I will carry on playing club football as long as I am passionate and feel like an important player, after which point I will be the first to get myself out of it."

Pirlo, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, is considered one of the finest midfielders of his generation with his play characterised by pinpoint short and long-range passing, expert close control and calmness under pressure.

His performances in that World Cup earned him the Bronze Ball award as he finished the tournament with the highest number of assists, and he was also named in that year's FIFPro XI.

The Juventus midfielder excelled again at Euro 2012, in which Italy unexpectedly reached the final before being comfortably beaten 4-0 by a rampant Spain, and was selected for the team of the tournament.

He drew plaudits for his outstanding display and chipped penalty in Italy's shoot-out quarter-final win over England.

Pirlo has also had a stellar club career in Italy, winning two Serie A titles, two Champions Leagues and the World Club Cup in 10 years at AC Milan, before playing a key role in the rebirth of Juventus.

He has made 82 appearances in all competitions since signing for Antonio Conte's side in 2011, and the reigning Serie A champions will make it two titles in a row on Sunday as long as they don't lose at home to 17th-placed Palermo (1300 GMT).

(Editing by Alan Baldwin)

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