Pirlo's Juventus appointment surprises Zola

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Gianfranco Zola said he is "surprised" by Juventus' decision to appoint first-time head coach Andrea Pirlo following Maurizio Sarri's dismissal.

Pirlo, 41, was sensationally appointed Juve coach on Saturday after the Serie A winners sacked Sarri following their Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Lyon.

Former Juve midfielder Pirlo, who was only recently named the Under-23s boss in Turin, will surprisingly have his first taste of senior coaching with the Bianconeri.

Zola worked as an assistant to Sarri at Chelsea in 2018-19 and he told Sky Sport Italia: "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't surprised by this.

"It's fascinating and if the project works, it'll go down as a huge success story for the club. It's not an easy job, though, as Juventus are asking to win in a certain way.

"This is a courageous move from the club and based on the quality of the man, but Pirlo will need their support going forward. It's not simple, but I do think he can have real success."

Pirlo left Juve in 2015 after the Bianconeri, who had been chasing the treble, were beaten 3-1 in the Champions League final by Barcelona.

He spent two years in MLS with New York City before calling time on his playing career.

The 2006 World Cup winner is a six-time Serie A champion, having won two Scudetti with Milan and four with Juve. He twice triumphed in the Champions League as a Rossoneri player, in 2003 and 2007.