Pirlo: This World Cup should be my last action for Italy

The midfielder made his international debut 12 years ago but admits he is unlikely to be available for the national team after the tournament in Brazil

Andrea Pirlo has admitted he plans to retire from international duty after this World Cup unless he is desperately needed by Italy.

The midfielder has been a member of the national team since 2002 and lifted the 2006 World Cup as well as reaching the Euro 2012 final with the Azzurri.

After 12 years of service, the 35-year-old is ready to bring an end to his international career unless Cesare Prandelli is struggling for options.

"I'm still thinking of retiring after this World Cup, as I have reached a certain age and it is only right to leave the pitch to the generation coming through," the Juventus star told reporters.

"It would be pointless to continue. If I am needed, then there’s no problem in coming back. If I come on international duty and don’t play, then I’d get angry. It is perhaps better I stay home."

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Pirlo was then asked about Mario Balotelli and he believes the striker's goal drought will come to an end soon.

The Juventus star said: "Strikers score goals, so when they don’t come then perhaps he gets a little upset, but he just needs to focus on playing for the team and then a goal will arrive as a consequence of that.

"It is the dream of every player to be at a World Cup in Brazil, the nation of football. It’s not something that happens often, so we have the chance to make this a World Cup to be remembered for all our lives."

Italy is without a win in seven matches as it prepares to face Costa Rica, England and Uruguay in the group stage.