‘I left before they told me to’ – Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo has explained that a desire to walk out of Serie A with his head held high was behind his summer move from Juventus to New York City.

The 36-year-old trained with his new team-mates – including David Villa – for the first time on Wednesday having signed a two-and-a-half-year deal on a free transfer earlier in July.

And the former AC Milan playmaker has revealed he did not want to be forced out of the Scudetto and Coppa Italia holders, which is why he chose an MLS move sooner rather than later.

“It was time to leave,” Pirlo told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “The idea of not being the protagonist at Juventus affected my decision-making.

“I preferred to make the decision to walk out myself rather than wait for others to send me away.

“Even if we’d have won the Champions League final [which Juve lost 3-1 to Barcelona], I’d have left. I’d thought about it for a while. Certainly losing made me consider it more.

“New York City is a great challenge and I like new challenges. We’re beginning from scratch here – this team didn’t exist until around six months ago.

“It’s a little like when I arrived at Juventus in 2011. We were essentially starting from scratch then, too. I had four fantastic seasons with a winning team that brought terrific results.”