Football: Pirlo named Italy's best for third straight year

Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo claimed Serie A's player of the year award for the third consecutive year during a gala event on Monday organised by the Association of Italian Footballers. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo claimed Serie A's player of the year award for the third consecutive year during a gala event on Monday organised by the Association of Italian Footballers. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MILAN (AFP) - Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo claimed Serie A's player of the year award for the third consecutive year during a gala event on Monday organised by the Association of Italian Footballers.

The 34-year-old playmaker celebrated alongside former Juve handler Antonio Conte, who picked up the best coach of the year award after leading the Bianconeri to their third consecutive Serie A title last season before quitting to become Italy's national team coach.

"It's always a pleasure to win this award," said Pirlo, one of several Juve stars to be named among the Serie A team of the year.

Juventus won their 30th league title last season with an unprecedented 102 points and reached the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Pirlo has scored only twice in seven games for the Italian champions but missed the first six weeks of the season due to injury.

However it has already been a remarkable season so far for Pirlo, who joined Juventus three seasons ago after spending a decade with fallen Serie A giants AC Milan.

After being sidelined for Juve's opening five games of the campaign, Pirlo returned in time for a 3-2 win over title challengers Roma on what was his 100th appearance for the Old Lady of Turin.

On the day of the club's 117th anniversary, Pirlo opened the scoring in a 2-0 win over Empoli. It was the Italian's 26th goal from a free kick in Serie A, leaving him two short of all-time record holder, Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Pirlo marked another milestone, his 100th appearance in the Champions League, by scoring a trademark free kick in a 3-2 win over group A rivals Olympiakos to score his first goal in the competition with Juventus.