IRENE, South Africa - Italy's injured midfielder Andrea Pirlo, never the cheeriest-looking player with his downturned smile and droopy eyes, is so sad he looks like he has been beaten by "a mallet."
Italy and AC Milan team-mate Gennaro Gattuso has spent many seasons by the 31-year-old's side and believes the calf injury which has ruled Pirlo out of the Azzurri's first two World Cup Group F games, and maybe more, is his worst hammer blow.
"I've never seen Andrea as sad as he has been in recent days, and it's true he always has that face. But it's like he's taken a mallet," Gattuso joked at a news conference on Saturday.
"He is fighting with all his force, working seven hours a day with the therapists to get fit. I'm sure he will do it."
Gattuso, who announced he would be retiring from the world champions team after the tournament, also said he was keen to manage Italy in the future but such are his comedy ways that no one was really sure if he was serious.