Andrea Pirlo signs for Jijantes FC in Gerard Pique’s Kings League
The Italian World Cup winner is the latest former professional to join up with the former Barcelona captain’s seven-a-side tournament.
Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo is one of the most iconic and celebrated players of the 21st century and he won countless trophies across a stellar career.
After playing for Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus and New York City FC Pirlo hung up his boots in 2017, but he is set for a surprise return.
The 44-year-old is the latest and one of the most high-profile additions to former Barcelona star Gerard Pique’s Kings League. The seven-a-side tournament was founded last year and seeks to offer a more condensed, action-packed form of the sport.
His signing was announced to much fanfare on a Twitch strict of the league’s club presidents and Pique. Pirlo had recently worked as a coach with Turkish side Fatih Karagumruk, where he moved to after a one-year spell as Juventus head coach.
Who plays in the Kings League?
Andrea Pirlo is the latest big-name player to sign for a team in the Kings League but he is far from the only established star to turn out in Pique’s experimental tournament.
Former Barcelona and Argentina forward Javier Saviola played for Ferran Corominas’ Kunisports in Week 2 of the first season. Saviola was then replaced in the team by Sergio Aguero, Manchester City’s all-time top scorer.
In their opening game of the competition Porcinos FC called upon Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, the Mexican international still playing in MLS for LA Galaxy. Later on in the tournament Porcinos added former FIFA World Player of the Year and World Cup winner Ronaldinho.
Jijantes FC, the team who have recently signed Pirlo, previously had Ibai Gomez in their ranks. Still aged just 33, Gomez was playing for LaLiga side Athletic Bilbao until 2022 and has made more than 200 appearances in the Spanish top flight.
What is the Kings League?
The Kings League is Gerard Pique’s attempt to change the way that football is played and consumed, bringing together components from computer games and internet streaming sites to shake up the game.
The former Barca captain has brought together football personalities and well-known streamers to each take charge of the 12 teams in the competition. Games last 40 minutes, split into two 20-minute halves, with seven players on each team.
The most controversial part of Pique’s offering are the wild cards, which introduce crazy rules for gameplay. Before matches each team can draw bonus cards which may give them a goal head-start, a penalty or a ‘goal multiplier’.
Unsurprisingly the wacky new competition has not been met with approval from the footballing establishment. LaLiga president Javier Tebas dismissed Pique’s creation as a “circus”.