Juventus and Italy legend Andrea Pirlo has told his former team-mates to win Saturday's Champions League final for him.
Number one supporter
'Here we are: Juve-Real in the Champions League final. I say 'we' because even if this time I will not be on the pitch, I will be the number one supporter,' the veteran midfielder wrote in a column for La Stampa, the daily based in Juventus's home city of Turin. Now playing for New York City FC, Pirlo said he would be racing home after his new club's MLS clash with Philadelphia to watch the final on television. 'I don't think I'll be able to sit still,' he wrote.
The hurt of two years ago
Pirlo won four Italian titles in his 2011-15 stint at Juventus. He was part of the side that lost the 2015 final to Barcelona and the pain lingers still. 'Sometimes I think back to that night two years ago in Berlin. When you lose a final you find yourself back there in your mind and you'd love to play it again. Unfortunately for me, I can't do that, but I'm happy they can.'
A winner with AC Milan
Pirlo, who won European football's biggest prize twice with AC Milan, said a Juve triumph would be a fitting honour for club captain Gigi Buffon as the Italy goalkeeper nears the end of his trophy-laden career. 'I say this as a friend and a former teammate who knows him well - he deserves it,' Pirlo wrote. 'This is the only thing he's missing.'
The 38-year-old said Real would be formidable opponents but were not unbeatable. 'There are reasons to be wary of them, but that is true of every team at this level. If Juve approach this clash the way they know how, they've got a great chance. They've not gone wrong in all the matches that have counted so far this season.'