Andrea Pirlo was untouchable at the height of his playing career, a footballer whose grace and prowling presence drew widespread admiration and struck fear into rival teams.

As a coach, we can surmise but really it is a guessing game as to what we will be getting from Pirlo as the dugout rookie leads Juventus into the 2020-21 season.

On Sunday evening in Italy, the man who was a World Cup winner in 2006 takes charge of his first Serie A game with Juve, who play Sampdoria in Turin.

Maurizio Sarri's Juve reign lasted just one season, albeit another Scudetto-yielding campaign for the most successful club in the league's history. Pirlo will be expected to deliver at least that level of success, and encourage a swagger too.

He joins a host of significant former players plucked for leadership roles at an elite level, typically on a hunch rooted in familiarity, the chosen ones often still fresh from their playing days and with scant experience to call on. Top marks in coaching exams provide no guarantee that success will follow.

Many times, the gamble on a colt coach has paid off, with presidents and owners rightly sensing the novice harbours the innate expertise to lead and to inspire, and crucially to bring results. On other occasions, it has ended in frustration and tears, and in some instances the jury remains out.

Here is a look at just some of those cases, illustrating how there are no guarantees attached to such appointments.

PEP GUARDIOLA

The go-to example for any club that wishes to justify appointing a club legend to sudden seniority on the coaching side, former midfield general Guardiola was just 37 when he took charge at Barcelona in 2008, after a year coaching the B team. He departed four years and 14 trophies later, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League triumphs, and was vaunted as the world's best coach.

Further successes have come with Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Plainly, Pep was born to lead and Barcelona were wise to the fact.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

How would Zidane, the mercurial playmaker – the only rival to Brazil striker Ronaldo when assessing the greatest player of their generation – take to coaching? Could the erstwhile Galactico tease out the best from those who can but dream of matching the twinkling feet and god-gifted balance with which he was blessed? Could the former Real Madrid maestro really be a suitable fit for the Bernabeu job that has swallowed up many an experienced coach?

Three Champions Leagues and two LaLiga titles later, we probably have a decent idea of the answer to those questions. There have still been ups and downs, and a brief split along the way, but 18 months in charge of Madrid's B team – Castilla – hardened Zidane for the obstacles he would face in the top job. His Madrid sides have at times lacked the verve that was his signature as a player, but they have delivered results and abundant trophies, and ultimately that is what counts.

MICHEL PLATINI

Before there was Zidane, France had Platini. A wonder of an attacking midfielder with Nancy, Saint-Etienne and Juventus, Platini was also a goalscoring titan of the France team that won Euro 84 and reached semi-finals at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. It followed, to those that knew him, that Platini would go on to become a great national-team coach too, and at the age of 33 he was appointed to lead France, having retired as a player a year earlier. Platini took over with France already at a low ebb and defeats under his charge against Yugoslavia and Scotland meant they missed out on reaching the 1990 World Cup.

Could Platini bounce back? It seemed he might when France reached Euro 92 in style, with eight wins from eight qualifiers, Platini nurturing the likes of Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc, but Les Bleus flopped at the tournament itself as they and England bowed out of a group from which Sweden and Denmark advanced. Platini resigned not long afterwards, began to forge a solid reputation in football administration, and by the late 1990s had built a strong, ultimately fateful, alliance with the then FIFA secretary general Sepp Blatter. He would never coach again.

DIEGO MARADONA

If there were ever a case of being blinded by celebrity, then some of the presidents who have given Diego Armando Maradona coaching work surely have fallen victim. The biggest star of his generation, Maradona retired from playing in 1997 and, with barely a sniff of coaching experience and just about as much baggage as an airport carousel, was named boss of his native Argentina in 2008, tasked with taking the Albicelestes to the World Cup two years later. Argentina scraped their way into the finals and were thumped 4-0 by Germany in the quarter-finals. Maradona's contract was not renewed.

He has continued to pick up coaching work, one curious-looking appointment after another, most recently with Gimnasia in the Argentinian top flight. Maradona the coach has been no match for Maradona the player, and it was naive surely for anyone to think that was ever remotely possible.

FRANK LAMPARD

Pirlo was an artist of the 21st century game, and he is considered a deep thinker, while the common theory is that English midfield counterpart Lampard achieved much of his success through hard graft and maximising his rather more rudimentary talent. Whether either categorisation fits the bill is a moot point, but Lampard has a wiser head on his shoulders than many footballers, was top of the class in his school days, and his IQ is reputed to be through the roof.

Derby County gave him a first break in coaching but it took Chelsea just a year to pounce and parachute Lampard into his first Premier League manager's job. A Stamford Bridge great as a player, Lampard had an acceptable first season as Blues boss but the acid test comes in this new term after a spree of big-money signings. A high-stakes London gamble will play out in the coming months.

ALAN SHEARER

As Pirlo takes charge of those in the Bianconeri stripes he once wore – Cristiano Ronaldo and all – it bears remembering that returning black and white messiahs can fail. Former Newcastle United striker Shearer returned to St James' Park in April 2009, the club's record goalscorer aiming to rescue the team from the threat of relegation, but a dismal return of five points from eight games saw them sink out of the Premier League.

Shearer left and has not coached since, happily staying in his niche as a television pundit. There are pressures but also a certain comfort to that studio role. Two months at Newcastle was the sum of Shearer's coaching career: as Pirlo may yet find out, that can be all it takes to destroy the notion of it being a natural next step.

Olivier Giroud has set his sights on overtaking Michel Platini as France's second-highest goalscorer as the Chelsea forward aims to win 100 caps for Les Bleus.

Giroud – who reached the Euro 2016 final with France before winning the 2018 World Cup – has scored 39 international goals in 97 appearances.

The 33-year-old has been a stalwart of Didier Deschamps' squad and needs just three more goals to overtake Platini and move second in the all-time list, behind Thierry Henry, who netted 51 times between 1997 and 2010.

Now, Giroud has set his sights on becoming only the eighth centurion in France's history, as well as matching Platini's goal haul.

"I had the chance to make a Euro final and win the World Cup," he said in an interview with Canal+.

"I'm still thirsty for trophies and to break records in the French team. It would be good to pass 100 caps, and then try to get past Platini in second place in the team's top scorers rankings.

"These are goals and the Euro next year is of course a goal."

Giroud scored six goals as France successfully qualified for Euro 2020, only for the tournament to be pushed back a year due to coronavirus.

Michel Platini’s claim to fame comes from being one of the finest passers the game has ever seen. His efforts from the penalty spot and from free kicks are legendary but he was also quick and elegant on the ball, combined with being a very intelligent reader of the game. His technical ability was also renowned during a period where South Americans were believed to be the masters in this arena. Platini also had an eye for goal from his more withdrawn role behind the strikers and was prolific as a midfielder, winning a number of top goalscorer accolades throughout his career.

Playing Career

Full name: Michel Platini

Date of birth: 21 June 1955 (age 64)

Place of birth: Jœuf, France

Height: 1.79m (5ft 10 in)

Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club Career

           Years                Team                    Apps      (Gls)

  • 1972–1979          Nancy                    181        (72)
  • 1979–1982          Saint-Étienne         104        (58)
  • 1982–1987          Juventus                147        (68)
  • Total                                              432    (224)

 

Club Honours

  • Nancy - Coupe de France: 1977–78; Division 2: 1974–75
  • Saint-Étienne - Division 1: 1980–81; Coupe de France runner-up: 1980–81, 1981–82
  • Juventus - Serie A: 1983–84, 1985–86; Coppa Italia: 1982–83; European Cup: 1984–85; runner-up: 1982–83; European Cup Winners' Cup: 1983–84; European Super Cup: 1984; Intercontinental Cup: 1985

International Career

  • 1976–1987 France 72 (41)
  • 1988 Kuwait  1   (0)

International Honours

  • UEFA European Championship: 1984
  • Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup third place: 1986
  • 1976 Pre-Olympic Zone European

 

Individual Honours

  • Ballon d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Argent: 1977
  • IOC European Footballer of the Season: 1983–84, 1984–85
  • World Soccer Player of the Year: 1984, 1985
  • UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Top Scorer: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 1984
  • French Player of the Year: 1976, 1977
  • French Player of the Century: 1999
  • L'Équipe French Champion of Champions: 1977, 1984
  • FIFA XI: 1979
  • Guerin d'Oro: 1984
  • Capocannoniere (Serie A Top Scorer): 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85
  • European Cup Top Scorer: 1984–85
  • Intercontinental Cup Most Valuable Player of the Match Award: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1982, 1986
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • World Team of the 20th Century: 1998
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2002
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame member
  • English Football Hall of Fame member (voted All-Time Greatest European Footballer. He is only the second person outside the English game to be honoured by the Museum.)
  • Artemio Franchi Prize
  • Golden Foot: 2004, as football legend
  • FIFA 100
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #9
  • Premio internazionale Giacinto Facchetti: 2011
  • Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2012
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Juventus Greatest XI of All Time: 2017

Tributes flowed on Thursday following news that former France coach Michel Hidalgo had died of natural causes, aged 87.

Hidalgo led France between 1976 to 1984 – hauling Les Bleus out of the international wilderness and to the glory of a maiden major honour at the 1984 European Championship.

France's run to the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup established Hidalgo's swashbuckling side as a favourite of many neutrals, but he still needed a couple of tweaks to get the balance just right before expectant support on home soil two years later.

Ultimately he did just that, with a midfield quartet of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez sweeping all before them.

Here, we take a closer look at the Hidalgo's foursome that is affectionately remembered as France's Carre Magique – Magic Square.

LUIS FERNANDEZ

The final piece in the puzzle and an invaluable presence at the base of Hidalgo's sparkling midfield diamond, Spanish-born Fernandez did not make his France debut until after the 1982 World Cup run. After that, he only lined up as part of the famous quartet when England visited Paris for a friendly in February 1984. A Platini brace saw off Bobby Robson's men and Fernandez' superb positional sense and tough tackling instantly laid a foundation for flourishes such as Giresse's mazy run to set up the opening goal.

The Paris Saint-Germain maestro also passed with smooth precision, not to be outdone by the more celebrated creatives before him. The youngest corner of the square, Fernandez was 24 at the European Championship and is perhaps best remembered for dispatching the decisive penalty two years later that saw France progress to the World Cup semi-finals once more at Brazil's expense.

He was also around for the denouement and the ignominy of failing to qualify for major tournaments in 1988 and 1990, before being granted a swansong of sorts as part of the Platini-coached France squad at Euro 92.

ALAIN GIRESSE

By contrast to Fernandez, Giresse was an international veteran of 12 years when France's moment of truth arrived. A diminutive gem of a footballer, his goal had France on the brink of semi-final glory against West Germany in 1982 – establishing a 3-1 lead in extra-time before a heart-breaking collapse to penalty shoot-out defeat.

Giresse arrived at the European Championships in prime form, having just collected a Ligue 1 crown with Bordeaux that was retained the following season. He made 592 appearances for the Girondins before joining Marseille in 1986.

Platini's relentless foil, living up to his nickname of 'Moteur', Giresse got on the scoresheet alongside Fernandez in the 5-0 group-stage hammering of Belgium – with Platini netting a hat-trick.

In retirement, a nomadic coaching career has seen Giresse lead the national teams of Georgia, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia.

JEAN TIGANA

Giresse was not alone in underpinning lavish talent with a phenomenal work-rate. Any opponent of Tigana knew they had been in a game – not least the bedraggled Portugal backline as his slaloming run set up Platini's last-gasp winner in extra time of the semi-final. The goal stands as arguably the defining moment of France's victory march.

His long-time alliance with Giresse at Bordeaux was a gift to Hidalgo in plotting his celebrated configuration and Tigana would make the same move to Marseille in 1989, adding two more Ligue 1 titles to the three he collected on the Garonne River.

A future coach of Monaco and Fulham, Tigana was indisputably among the best in the world and finished second in the 1984 Ballon d'Or voting. There was, of course, only one winner.

MICHEL PLATINI

The true beauty of the Carre Magique was how the winning blend of technique and tenacity allowed Platini to enjoy the fullest realisation of his incredible talents. Few players have stamped their mark so irresistibly over a major tournament as France's main man did in 1984, making light of with weightiest expectations.

His preposterous final numbers read nine goals in five appearances, after scoring in each game of the competition. Having settled opening nerves 12 minutes from time in a 1-0 win over Denmark, the Juventus superstar made merry by claiming the matchball in consecutive outings against Belgium and Yugoslavia. He stood tallest in his country's moment of need in the semi-final before an error from Luis Arconada allowed his free-kick to squirm home in the showpiece.

From poached efforts, to delicate chips, via thumping drives and diving headers, no type of goal was beyond Platini, who won three consecutive Ballons d'Or between 1983 and 1985. He was a phenomenon, rightly celebrated and deserving of icon status now somewhat at odds with his discredited post-career in football administration chicanery.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has rejected former UEFA president Michel Platini's appeal against his ban from all football-related activity.

Platini was initially given an eight-year ban for receiving a "disloyal payment" of two million Swiss francs (£1.3m) from then FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2011. 

The former France captain had that reduced to six years in 2016 and further cut to four years following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Platini, who has served his ban, was unsuccessful with a Swiss Federal Court appeal and the ECHR has now ruled his punishment to be "justified" and his challenge as "inadmissible".

The judgement stated: "The Court found in particular that, having regard to the seriousness of the misconduct, the senior position held by Mr Platini in football's governing bodies and the need to restore the reputation of the sport and of FIFA, the sanction did not appear excessive or arbitrary.

"The domestic bodies had taken account of all the interests at stake in confirming the measure taken by FIFA, subsequently reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). 

"Lastly, the Court noted that the applicant had been afforded the domestic institutional and procedural safeguards allowing him to challenge FIFA’s decision and submit his arguments in his defence."

FIFA responded to the verdict by declaring it will continue to seek money owed. 

A FIFA statement read: "FIFA has taken note of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to reject the appeal of Mr. Platini, which the Court considered to be manifestly ill-founded. 

"This judgment is in line with the decision of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, which was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sports and also by the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

"FIFA will continue to seek restitution of the CHF 2 million unduly paid by former FIFA President Joseph Blatter to Mr. Platini back in February 2011."

Platini and Blatter, who also had his ban reduced to six years, have continually denied any wrongdoing.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been rewriting the football history books for over a decade, and as the pair head into 2020, they are on the verge of racking up a stack of new milestones.

The iconic duo are hoping to propel their respective teams to Champions League glory this season while contesting for domestic honours in Italy and Spain, and there are new records to be set at club and international level for both players too.

Messi's Barcelona are top of LaLiga by two points and he has scored 11 goals in his last 10 games to step into the new year in optimistic mood, while Ronaldo is in a similar hot streak for Juventus after netting five in his last four Serie A outings.

At 32, Messi is two years Ronaldo's junior, but try telling the Juventus talisman that his career is nearing its end and he'll answer you with performances with all the pace, power and intensity of a player in his prime.

As two of the game's greatest embark upon what will doubtless be another year filled with glorious moments, here are the records they stand to smash along the way.

RONALDO: Most European Cup wins

Ronaldo won his fifth Champions League when Real Madrid beat Liverpool in the 2018 final and if he can inspire Juventus to glory in 2020 he will have won Europe's top competition as many times as current record holder Francisco Gento, who won six between 1956 and 1966 for Real Madrid.

MESSI: Top goal-scorer for a single team

Messi is 26 goals away from eclipsing Pele's club goals record of 643, which the Brazil legend is said to have scored for Santos. Record-keeping has become more accurate since Pele's day, and Messi is set to hit a new high that will take some beating.

RONALDO: All-time top European Championship goal-scorer

Ronaldo has scored nine goals for Portugal at the four European Championships where he has represented his country, putting him level with Michel Platini as the competition's leading scorer. If he can find the net in 2020's tournament, he will become the leading Euros marksman of all time.

MESSI AND RONALDO: Most Champions League hat-tricks

Messi and Ronaldo have scored eight hat-tricks each in the Champions League - more than any other player to have graced the competition - and if either can notch another in 2020 they could claim bragging rights for some time to come.

RONALDO: First player to be top scorer in English, Spanish and Italian top flights

Ronaldo is currently joint-fourth in the Serie A scoring charts with 10 goals, behind Joao Pedro (11), Romelu Lukaku (12) and Ciro Immobile (17), but if he can storm his way to the top in 2020 he will become the first player in history to have been top goal-scorer in the English, Spanish and Italian top flights.

MESSI: Seven Ballon d'Or wins

Ronaldo did not attend the Ballon d'Or awards ceremony in 2019 to see Messi claim a record sixth gong, and if the Barca star wins again in 2020 it is hard to see Ronaldo, who has won the award five times, ever catching him.

RONALDO: All-time international top-scorer

Ronaldo will be going all guns blazing for Portugal this year as he attempts to add to his 99 international goals and succeed Ali Daei, who scored 109 for Iran, as the top international marksman of all time.

MESSI: Four consecutive Golden Shoe awards

Messi has been the top goal-scorer in Europe for the last three consecutive seasons and he currently leads the LaLiga scoring charts with 13 goals. He was the first player to win the Golden Shoe, awarded to Europe's leading goal-scorer in league matches, three times in a row and could set another new record by doing it four times on the bounce.

FIFA is suing former its former president Sepp Blatter and ex-vice president Michel Platini in an attempt to reclaim a €1.8million "gift" the Swiss Federal Supreme Court called an "undue payment".

The 2011 payment, which was given to Platini, led to both men receiving substantial bans from football activities in 2015.

After appeals, Blatter's ban was reduced to six years and Platini's came down to four years, with both originally set at eight.

FIFA's governance committee last month ruled the world's governing body was "duty-bound to try to recover the funds", which Blatter and Platini had claimed were paid under an oral agreement, rather than being written into contract.

And following backing by Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court, FIFA has filed claims against the disgraced former dignitaries.

A FIFA statement read: "FIFA has today filed claims in the relevant Swiss courts against former FIFA president Joseph Blatter and former FIFA vice-president Michel Platini, seeking restitution of the CHF 2 million unduly paid to Mr Platini back in February 2011.

"This follows the unanimous resolution recently adopted by the FIFA governance committee in which it emphasised that FIFA was duty-bound to try to recover the funds illicitly paid by one former official to another.

"Even the Swiss Federal Supreme Court has confirmed that this CHF 2 million [€1.8m] gift was to be viewed as an 'undue payment'.

"If and when successfully recovered, these funds (together with interest) will be fully channelled back into football development, which is where the money should have gone in the first place."

Former UEFA president Michel Platini said Paris Saint-Germain "could be called Coca-Cola" as he questioned the Ligue 1 champions' identity in an outburst over wealth in modern football.

Platini served as the head of UEFA for eight years but was suspended and later banned from all football-related activity in 2015 after an ethics investigation found he received a "disloyal payment" in 2011.

The former Juventus and France midfielder's ban has now ended and he took aim at the money in today's game during an interview discussing the possibility of clubs having quotas to limit the number of foreign players in their teams.

"Today, you buy all the best players and you win," Platini told France Info.

"Everything is based on wealth - money kills a philosophy of football.

"When you are UEFA president, you want everyone to participate in your competitions, and that everyone has a chance to win them. It is a bit complicated at the moment."

Platini went further by citing the example of PSG, who have won the Ligue 1 title in six of the past seven seasons having become one of the world's richest clubs when Qatar Sports Investment purchased the team in 2011.

Paris-born forward Kylian Mbappe was the league's top scorer in 2018-19, which was PSG's first season under former Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel.

"The president is Qatari, the sports director [Leonardo] is Brazilian, the coach is German [Tuchel], there is a Frenchman on the team, [but] why is it called Paris Saint-Germain?" Platini added.

"There are 40,000 people, a lot of people who love the club. [But] it could be called Coca-Cola or anything."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.