To many, the honour and excitement of playing in a match against the Italian National Football Team would be the experience of a lifetime. But for Maltese Midfielder Andre’ Schembri his big game against Italy in 2012 saw him get a lot more than he bargained for.
“Had we been alone in a dark alley, and not on a football pitch… I’d have called the cops”
Tasked by his coach to carry out one job (and one job alone), Schembri spent every second of the match making sure superstar player Andrea Pirlo never once touched the ball. He managed this task so well, his performance graced three pages of Pirlo’s autobiography “I think therefore I play“.
“Are you actually having fun? I feel sorry for you.”
Pirlo’s comments started out nice enough; he wrote about how Schembri had seemingly “fallen for [him]” and that he could “see the love-hearts dancing about his face”. But as the Italian player continued to write, his words turned sour, as he went on to say that having a player constantly camp your position kills the spirit of the game for both parties.
“What the fuck are you doing? … Do you maybe want to think about actually playing and not just trotting around after me?”
As scathing as Pirlo’s words may seem, the Maltese Midfielder seemed unfazed by his opponent’s anger. With a smile Schembri announced that “not everything [Pirlo] wrote was true”, and that such long conversations would have been impossible, as most of his time was dedicated to chasing each other across the field (a task that he notes was “very difficult” to do).
But Schembri also said they ended the game amicably, swapping tops as they shook hands. Despite the harsh words by Andrea Pirlo, it’s the Maltese player who had the last laugh. When asked what he did with Pirlo’s t-shirt, Schembri said he gave it to a friend, because Totti and Cassano are his favourites anyway.
Featured photo via UEFA website. Special thanks to Nick Scicluna for his help on this piece.