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Pirlo aims to end Italy career with World Cup glory

ESPN staff
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Andrea Pirlo has signed a new contract with Juventus © Getty Images
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Andrea Pirlo is bidding to bow out on a high this summer after confirming this World Cup will be his last.

Fresh from penning a new two-year contract with Juventus that will take him through to his 37th birthday, Pirlo has no intention of pulling on an Italy shirt again after July 13, when he hopes to take it off in celebration of a second World Cup title.

Italy get their World Cup participation underway against England on Saturday night and Pirlo is planning for that game to be the first of seven in Brazil.

"When I play football, I always aim to go all the way," he said. "I never settle for just getting through the group stage and reaching the last 16 - the aim is always to get the maximum, which means going all the way.

"We've got a very competitive side and we'll give it our all, then I think I'll finish after the World Cup. I'm at a certain age now where it's time to move over and leave room for the others. It wouldn't make sense continuing. If ever there were any need for me to return, then of course I would, but if I were to come to the national team and not play, I'd just get angry. In that case, it would be better for me just to stay at home."

Pirlo's appetite would nevertheless not be satisfied with glory in Rio de Janeiro. He would not have committed himself to two more years in the game if he was not hungry for even more silverware.

"It was my decision to continue with Juventus because I'm in a place where I'm feeling good and where I can still win things," he said. "And we have more objectives to aim for in the coming years."

Pirlo's priority, like the rest of the Italy squad, is to put their 2010 World Cup disappointment behind them with a win in Manaus this Saturday.

Four years ago, they returned home from South Africa with the tail between their legs after finishing bottom of a group which included Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand. Under 2006's World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, they did not win a single game. but times have changed.

"Italy can win the World Cup," affirmed Pirlo. "It's got to be World Cup that we will not want to forget in a rush. Italy against England have always been great games. The Euros was one thing but this is the World Cup - things are different here. England are a great team - they've improved a lot with some young players, but we know how to face them. We've always done well against them."

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