Andrea Pirlo has cemented his place as one of the best midfielders in football history, says former team-mate Samuele Dalla Bona, as the the Italy legend announces he will retire at the end of the year.
Pirlo confirmed on Sunday that he will call time on his playing days when his contract with New York City FC expires in December, closing a career that saw win a host of major honours including the World Cup and two Champions League titles.
The 38-year-old has played just 15 of his side's 32 MLS games this season and admitted he cannot train the way he wants to, but Dalla Bonna feels he has done enough to be remembered as an iconic player.
"He has everything: good feet, technique, and he is one of the best in the world in his prime," Dalla Bona, who played with him during his 10 year spell at AC Milan, told Goal.
"Maybe now at the end of the career it has been a little bit more difficult [to play at the same level].
"But to play on for so long, he has proved he is the best in the world. Everyone respects him because he goes down as one of the best. History will remember him as one of the best for sure. He has achieved everything."
Pirlo was most successful with Milan where he won nine honours during his 10 years at the club during Serie A's most competitive seasons in recent history before going on to win four league titles with Juventus.
Dalla Bona joined Milan from Chelsea for £5 million in 2002 after a relatively successful spell in England as a youngster. Milan won the league after he joined but Dalla Bona struggled to break into a team that included the likes of Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Rui Costa, Alberto Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso.
He admits that it was an impossible task to break into the first-team, but is glad that he got to see Pirlo up close on a daily basis.
"I was feeling very good in Chelsea then I had this great offer at AC Milan," Dalla Bona, 36, continued. "It wasn’t just that I wanted to come back to Italy, but AC Milan is a legendary club and they had a great team. Maybe that AC Milan was too strong for me, at that time though.
"Of course; they had Seedorf, Pirlo, Gattuso and it was very, very difficult to compete against them. I didn’t play much but it can always be a great experience to talk about. I played and trained with those guys and they are greats!
"So not everything went well for me and then I went on loan and played well after that, but in Italy I had more stress around the games and in training than in England."