David Pizarro, the little Chilean magician

The word "underrated" is thrown a lot in the world of football and a lot of people don't seem to have a good grasp of what that term actually means. While there are a lot of players who deserve more recognition, many of them were rewarded one way or another through trophies, but the protagonist of today's article, David Pizarro, might be an exception to that rule.

The Chilean midfielder was one of the best players in the history of his country, and, even then, he is a bit underrated when compared to the likes of Ivan Zamorano, Alexis Sanchez, and Arturo Vidal. Therefore, it is sometimes worth remembering who David Pizarro was, his achievements in Italian football, and the legacy he left behind in Chilean football.

Udinese fans
Udinese fans cheering for David Pizarro- his first professional club

Early days

David Pizarro was born in Valparaiso, Chile, and quickly rose through the ranks of his hometown club, Santiago Wanderers, until becoming a part of the senior team as a teenager in 1997. He made a good impact during his early years in Chilean football, which quickly led to Udinese, a small club from Italy, to sign him in the summer of 1999.

Udinese didn't have the reputation it gained later on as a great platform to develop unproven talent but Pizarro was one of the first decisions they made to head in that direction. However, it is also safe to say that David didn't start that well in Italy, at a time when the league was arguably the best in the world, and didn't have the impact most people were expecting.

He was loaned to Universidad de Chile, one of the biggest teams in his home country, in 2001 to gain experience, and while he didn't play much over there, it was enough to come back to Udine as a much more complete player. It is fair to say that was a watershed moment for Pizarro's career, and also shows how much Udinese believed in his talents.

And while there were people at the club who believed in Pizarro, no one believed more than his manager during his later years in the institution, Luciano Spalletti. It was the Udinese side of the 2003/04 season, the one that started to make waves in Serie A as a club that could change the best teams in the league and play attacking football, where the Chilean managed to make an impact.

Pizarro was what most Italian fans would consider a "regista", similar in his playing style to Andrea Pirlo, who was playing at AC Milan at the time. His ability to control the tempo of the game, plus his high-quality passing, made him a key component of Spalletti's team, which is something that would remain moving forward.

On the other hand, Pizarro's performances wouldn't go unnoticed and in 2005 he would gain a transfer move to Inter Milan, which seemed to be Claudio's big moment to prove his worth in Serie A. However, he wouldn't have a lot of playing time, struggling to take over Juan Sebastian Veron's position on the side.

He did win a couple of trophies, including the 2005/06 Serie A title, the 2006 Coppa Italia, and the Supercoppa Italiana, but the truth of the matter is that he wasn't able to replicate the form he had shown during his time with Udinese.

Fortunately for Pizarro, he would be given a lifeline.

AS Roma and beyond

Luciano Spalletti had become AS Roma's manager back in the 2004/05 season and decided to sign Pizarro after his difficult season for Inter. This would prove to be the right move for all parties involved: Pizarro would be playing for a good team who needed someone of his profile and Spalletti would be getting a player he was familiar with, adding an extra layer of quality to the side.

This was the Roma side known as "La Magica" because of their fluent and attacking playing style, with Pizarro playing a pivotal role in front of the defense and helping with the passing quality of the side. And while he only won a couple of Coppa Italia medals during his time in the Italian capital, there is no denying that he became a fan-favorite over there and achieved a lot of great things.

He would sign for Manchester City in January of 2012 through a loan deal because that club's manager at the time, Roberto Mancini, had been his coach at Inter. He didn't play much, which is why he didn't get a winners' medal in the 2011/12 Premier League the Citizen side won, so he eventually returned to Italy to play for Fiorentina during the next three years.

After 16 years in Italy, barring a couple of loans abroad, Pizarro decided to go back to Chile, first with Santiago Wanderers and then with Universidad de Chile, winning the 2017 Clausura with the latter.

Chile and legacy

David Pizarro lived a lot of things with the Chile national team. He was part of the inconsistent side of the mid-2000s, was part of the Marcelo Bielsa revolution of the late 2000s, and was also a part of Jorge Sampaoli's very successful side of the mid-2010s, albeit playing the role of a backup due to his age.

Any football fan who watched Italian football back in the 2000s knows how much of a gifted midfielder Pizarro was, raising the floor for clubs such as Udinese and AS Roma, which is a shame that he never got the credit he deserved. However, his legacy with his own country and Italian football is never going to be forgotten and deserves a lot of recognition.
Nathan Annan is from South Africa and loves to write, and above all about his favorite sport, football. Nathan's interest in football was sparked late but after watching a few matches in his hometown of Johannesburg during the 2010 South Africa World Cup, he was hooked.