The different Genoa of Gilardino and Pirlo

The different Genoa of Gilardino and Pirlo

There was a time when the former striker also scored thanks to passes from the midfielder. Now they find themselves in the same city, but on two different benches, each with the desire to demonstrate that talent on the pitch can also be expressed on the bench

It was 17 June 2006 when, on the Pirlo-Gilardino axis, Italy, then world champion less than a month later, undermined the defense of the United States in the second match of the German World Cup, perhaps the least brilliant of Lippi's national team, which in fact it didn't go beyond 1-1. A long history of football collaboration, 164 games long and with 7 assists from the director for the forward: the first in 2004, when Olympic Italy conquered the bronze medal by beating Iraq in Athens 2004, the last, always with the blue, against the Faroe Islands, in a qualifying match for Euro 2012.

19 years after the bronze combination, 17 from that world goal, 12 from the last direct assist and 10 from the last match on the field together (always with Italy), the Pirlo-Gilardino axis meets in a city, Genoa, but without the possibility of collaborating with a time.

If the former center forward, in fact, after a fleeting interimfull confirmation and promotion to Serie A will continue to coach Genoa, the ex attacking midfielder, after the victories, evidently not enough, as a rookie with Juventus and the bittersweet experience in Turkey with Fatih Karagumruk has landed in the "new" Sampdoria of Radrizzani and Manfredinew owners of the club after the frantic and decadent management of Massimo Ferrero.

Despite the much common path, they are football sons of different fathers: Pirlo first shaped by Mazzone and then by Ancelotti; Gilardino more devoted to Prandelli found many times in his career.

Both seek in Genoa, the city split in two by football, the launching pad or relaunch: on the one hand, a rossoblù people sailing with enthusiasm towards a Serie A championship regained after a year in purgatory, with boiling dreams and feet that struggle to stay on the ground after bitter years; on the other hand, the Sampdoria people, who are looking for a breath of fresh air with the new club despite having to deal, despite themselves, with the relegation to Serie B which will deprive everyone of the Lanterna derby for at least one more year.

Gilardino and Pirlo, who have spent dozens of games in the same changing rooms and on the same fields, followed very different paths when they sat on the bench: if in 2018 they were inseparable course mates in one of the Coverciano Masters, Gilardino is then started from the bottom, Pirlo from the highest possible level. The former striker took charge of Rezzato in D, then structured himself between Pro Vercelli and Siena, between Serie D and Serie C, before venturing into the Primavera championship with promotion (his) to the first team and that of Genoa to Serie A. The former director, defined perhaps too hastily as a predestined or even a "Maestro", began coaching from Juventus: an Italian Cup and a Super Cup were not enough to guarantee him reconfirmation, then the exotic Turkish attempt ended with a consensual farewell and now the will to start again from an important square, like the one that Sampdoria can offer, taking a step back from the point of view of the category.

And that Italy of 2006, the peak of their careers, is made up of world champions who lap this story: there are Fabio Grosso and Pippo Inzaghi, who before Pirlo were at stake for the Sampdoria bench, for example. And then Nesta and Buffon, who each with their own role will face Pirlo in the next Serie B championship, who Gilardino faced as a winner crossing the footsteps of others in that big blue group (like Cannavaro, like De Rossi).

Then there is Genoa, which Paolo Conte has masterfully defined as "an idea like any other", now it will be the testing ground for two football and life ideas, goals and re-launch, dreams and hopes, two lives that intertwine once again, even if in different locker rooms, even if in different training facilities, even if with different shirts and colors.

The story of Pirlo and Gilardino, as we said, is intertwined with a lot of blue. And in Genoa everything will be linked to the blue sea, even their friendship divided by a crossroads of football and projects.

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