Andrea Pirlo seeks to give a new impetus to his career in Turkey

At Juventus in Turin, the coach’s suit was too big for him. Now, Andrea Pirlo tries to give a new boost to his career on the bench in a secondary stage, at the Fatih Karagümrük, a modest club in Istanbul.

“I am going to try to bring (to Turkey) the football that I have in my head. I hope it will be a season full of successes,” the former Bianconero coach had declared during his presentation in June at a luxurious hotel in the city of the Bosphorus.

Pirlo started as a coach in a big way, directly on the Juventus bench, but the ‘Maestro’ did not meet expectations and fourth place in Serie A broke a streak of nine consecutive titles that the ‘Vecchia Signora’ had achieved.

He was fired in May 2021 by ‘Juve’ and Pirlo’s new challenge really starts this Sunday, August 7: his new pupils, eighth in the Turkish Süper Lig last season, will open their new season in the national championship at home against the Alanyaspor.

It will be the first test and it will be against a team led by another Italian, Francesco Farioli, who passed through the Fatih Karagümrük bench last season.

In the popular district of Karagümrük, home of the club on the historic peninsula of Istanbul, Tarik Odman celebrates the arrival of the former world champion, a surprise to many. In Turkey he was welcomed as an idol and some even nicknamed him “Basbakan” (Prime Minister).

“Every good player doesn’t necessarily become a good coach. But it’s something huge that he’s here. If one of the big three (Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe or Besiktas) had signed him, the newspapers would only talk about that,” he told AFP. Sixty-year-old, fan of the red and black team since childhood, while having tea in the club’s cafeteria.

– “Showcase team” –

Promoted to the Turkish top division in 2020 after a 26-year absence, Fatih Karagümrük is a neighborhood club that doesn’t draw crowds. The profile is very different from that of Juventus, where Pirlo made the leap from player to coach.

Its historic stadium, a grassy field surrounded by three small stands and multicolored buildings, is not approved for the Süper Lig, forcing the team to ‘exile’ to the Atatürk Olympic Stadium on match days, 20 kilometers away.

It was in this Olympic stadium that with AC Milan, in 2005, Pirlo lost a legendary Champions League final against Liverpool, in which the Italians led 3-0 at half-time, before the great reaction of the English.

“The fact that we don’t have our own stadium, our own training center, not even a coach with our name on it, made negotiations difficult,” Istanbul club vice president Serkan Hurma acknowledged at the Istanbul press conference. presentation of Andrea Pirlo.

Four days before the start of the Turkish championship, the president of Fatih Karagümrük, Suleyman Hurma, threatened to resign if the Turkish authorities did not allow his club to build a stadium and a training center worthy of top-level football.

“Encountering an uncertain training schedule every day is sad and humiliating for our club,” he said in a statement.

Turkish sports journalist Alp Ulugay believes that Turkey is “an opportunity for rebirth” for Pirlo, who as a player won a World Cup, two Champions Leagues and six Italian leagues, but as a coach he still has everything to prove.

He is, yes, skeptical about the choice of Fatih Karagümrük, which he describes as a “showcase club”.

“Fatih Karagümrük is an artificial club. The showcase, financed by the president of the club, is very full and they have just added Andrea Pirlo. But there is nothing behind it,” he says.


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