Italy legend Fabio Cannavaro has jokingly branded former team-mate Andrea Pirlo “a b*stard”, stating that the iconic playmaker is far more laid-back than his public persona suggests he is.
Although both players featured for Inter and Juventus during storied careers, their paths never crossed as cohorts at club level, though they were frequently colleagues on the international stage, with the duo each attaining more than a century of caps for their nation.
They famously combined to help Italy overcome France in the 2006 World Cup final, with the centre-back narrowly edged out by Zinedine Zidane for the Golden Ball award, while Pirlo netted in the shootout, which was won by the Azzurri 5-3.
And the pair clearly established a fine rapport during the tournament, with Cannavaro lifting the lid on what his team-mate, who is famed for his calm and suave demeanour, is really like away from the field during an Instagram live.
“He's a b*stard – I'm allowed to say that! Andrea is really quick-witted and funny. He has plenty of jokes, he's not a curmudgeon like it seems. He's great company,” the 136-time capped defender, who retired from the professional game in 2011, said.
Meanwhile, Cannavaro reflected on one of the pivotal moments of the Berlin final as Zinedine Zidane was infamously dismissed for headbutting Marco Materazzi.
“I have to be honest, I only remember the noise,” the defender said. “I was nearby. I turned and I saw Marco on the ground.
“I heard this noise and Marco said: ‘He headbutted me.’
“Was it sore? Beyond that, he did what he had to do. He threw himself on the ground. Goodbye and thank you. But it was a good headbutt!”
Since quitting the game, Cannavaro has coached in both China and Saudi Arabia, but he is targeting a move back to Italy in the near future.
“It’s normal,” he explained. “I’ve been in the dugout for four years and I certainly feel more than ready. I have my staff and my ideas, it's a very important thing.”
And the prospect of coaching Napoli, the team he confesses is his “favourite”?
“They have a great coach,” he said. “But who wouldn’t want to coach them? Now what interests me is to make my journey and to be ready.”