“Pirlo has the face of an angel, but he is a son of a bitch! He’s always making jokes, always breaking the rules. One time when I was eating at Milanello, I had the bright idea of leaving my phone on the table, and he sent a text message from it to Galliani and Braida offering them my sister!”
Gennaro Gattuso on Andrea Pirlo’s character and the text he sent to the Milan chiefs
"I was 13, 14. [Louis van Gaal] was coming over for a meal, and he was the Barça manager for God's sake! I thought to myself, ‘In 3 or 4 years I'd like to play for them’, and I wanted to impress him. But he brushed me aside and I fell over. I felt devastated. I didn't say a damn word for the rest of the meal.”
Gerard Pique, whose grandfather was a former Barcelona director, on an embarrassing first meeting with the Dutch coach
"He is really something. I love him. He is Sir Arsene Wenger. He is hello (makes a handshake gesture). But he likes having the ball, playing football, passes... it’s like an orchestra. But it is a silent song. I like heavy metal more. I always want it loud. I love Arsenal’s style, but I cannot coach it because I am a different guy. If you watch me during the game I celebrate when we press the ball and it goes out. To enjoy football you have to do this. If, over the last four years, Barcelona were the first team I saw playing when I was four years of age — this serenity of football, they win 5-0, 6-0 — I would have played tennis. It is not my sport. I don’t like winning with 80 per cent of possession. Sorry, that is not enough for me. Fighting football, not serenity football, that is what I like. What we call in German 'English' football — rainy day, heavy pitch, 5-5, everybody is dirty in the face and goes home and cannot play for weeks after."
"When we signed him from Banfield I assumed he came from Argentina. But I’ve since discovered he comes from the planet Krypton!
Massimo Moratti on Javier Zanetti
"The best player I have ever played with? That's Ronaldo, O Fenômeno. The other Ronaldo – Cristiano – probably makes my top five, but I have seen O Fenômeno do things that nobody else has ever done."
Kaka, who, as well as the Ronaldos, has played alongside the likes of Paolo Maldini, Neymar, Andrea Pirlo, Raul, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, Manuel Rui Costa and Andriy Shevchenko
"I grew up with Diego – he was my idol. But I also played with Messi. Maradona or Messi? You can never forget history, but I’d say Messi.”
"I don't want to lie. He is not injured. Did he forget the time? Look, he's a kid. Kids make mistakes and fathers have to be clever in the way they educate their sons. He didn't play. He wanted to play. He was sad. We won without him."
Jose Mourinho on dropping Eden Hazard for the game against Schalke after the Belgian didn’t turn up for a training session
"Ozil is a bit better at dribbling than Zidane was. They have a similar form of technical ease and similar humility. Ozil also has a special quality: he always takes the right decision quickly.”
"Totti’s love for Roma is incredible and us Brazilians really value certain bonds. He’s playing well and has incomparable qualities. If he was Brazilian, he would have a great chance of being selected for the World Cup, but he is fortunate to be able to be a part of a fantastic and spectacular national team. Throughout the world there are players who are head and shoulders above the rest. Pirlo is one of those who has marked an era. He would get in any team in any league in the world.”
Luiz Felipe Scolari
"Kun is a very decisive player. He has the ability to change speed with the ball and start and stop with incredible velocity. He has impressive balance in his lower body, speed to slalom, and his finishing is incredible. Every year we see him score surprising goals and it’s very rare to find a striker who can do that. Guys like Messi and Di Maria are very fast and can change a game, but nobody can match Kun at what he does best.”
Pablo Zabaleta on Sergio Aguero
“Messi is the best of the world and, for me, Tello is even better than Cristiano [Ronaldo].”
“I’m really proud to have my own song. It gives me goosebumps! It's really nice [to hear] when you are on the pitch. I love the English pop-rock, so I love The Beatles.”
Olivier Giroud on the Arsenal supporters signing an adapted version of ‘Hey Jude’ in his honour