Alessandro Del Piero says former teammate Andrea Pirlo has 'skipped ahead' in his coaching career with his surprise appointment as Juventus head coach.
Pirlo, a teammate of Del Piero's for six years in the Italy national team and one year at Juve, was named new head coach of the Serie A champions after Maurizio Sarri's sacking.
This came as a shock since Pirlo has zero senior coaching experience and only one week earlier had been named coach of the Juve Under-23s.
Reports suggest club president Andrea Agnelli thinks Pirlo will automatically command great respect from the squad due to his incredible playing career, which includes four glittering seasons with Juve, in a similar style to Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.
Club legend Del Piero, who won the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2011-12 Serie A title with Pirlo, said he is very happy for his ex-teammate even if he admitted his great surprise at the move.
"To be honest, I wouldn’t have bet on him becoming the coach," said a chuckling Del Piero on Sky Sport Italia. "It’s a surprise for me too."
"I was already pleased for him taking the Under-23 role and thought that was the right move for him, but he’s skipped ahead, so I can only wish him luck.
"I think the general perception of former players who become coaches is changing in Italy.
"Before, there was this need to go through a long process in the lower leagues to learn the trade, but in recent years we’ve seen Filippo and Simone Inzaghi succeed, plus Gennaro Gattuso.
"They were great players and started straight away with great teams.”
Asked if Pirlo and Juve can replicate the Zidane-Madrid blueprint, former Sydney FC marquee Del Piero was optimistic.
"It’s not a fair comparison, because Zizou had already worked with the Real Madrid youth team and then was Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant manager, but Pirlo has everything it takes to do even better than Zidane,” said the former Juve captain.
"He already knows the club, the players, the directors, so I think they communicated in a very clear way.”