Andrea Pirlo - Juventus (Getty Images)
The wait is over. Last Monday Goal.com
asked you to vote for the player you believed had been the best in Serie A during the 2011-12 campaign. There were four candidates from four different clubs. They were Udinese's Antonio Di Natale, Parma's Sebastian Giovinco, AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juventus' Andrea Pirlo.
And the winner is ... Pirlo.
|HOW YOU VOTED
|1. Andrea Pirlo - 64.19%
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - 30.24%
3. Sebastian Giovinco - 2.98%
4. Antonio Di Natale - 2.59%
Of just under 7000 people who voted, a whopping 4441 picked out the Bianconeri midfielder as the best player in Italy over the course of the past season to leave the other three on the shortlist trailing in his wake. While Ibrahimovic gained a fair chunk of the vote, he finished a distant second to Pirlo. The two took almost 95 per cent of the total votes as Giovinco polled 2.98% and Di Natale claimed 2.59%.
Pirlo got his hands on the Scudetto for the second successive year, having been a winner with Milan in 2010-11, but this time around he had a much greater say in his team's triumph. He racked up 13 assists as the Old Lady claimed their first league-title win since Calciopoli, but more than that the Italy international was the rock around which Antonio Conte built his side.
The 33-year-old added three goals to his tally in 37 league matches, and was also a part of the Bianconeri side that reached the Coppa Italia final before falling to Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.
|HEAD-TO-HEAD | The top two's stats
||THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE TOP TWO IN SERIE A
In moving from Milanello to the new Juventus Stadium, Pirlo backed himself as a regular starter in a title contender, and was quick to remind everybody of his winning qualities after Juve won the Scudetto."It's a title well deserved and one that we wanted from the beginning," Pirlo told Sky Sport Italia. "I think that we earned it on the pitch."I wanted to win and I did. I left Milan because I needed more motivation in my career, so I chose Juve and bought into their project.
"I believed I was number one and I believe I have demonstrated it again this season."
The honour of being named Goal.com's Serie A Player of the Season deservedly goes to Pirlo despite the superb form in front of goal shown by Ibrahimovic in the past nine months.
The Swede broke his personal best tally for goals in a single campaign, netting 28 in Milan's ultimately fruitless chase for the title.
His return included a first-half hat-trick at Palermo, and six doubles, with only one of those - against Inter in week 37 - not ending in a win for the Rossoneri. Such was his form in comparison to many of his team-mates that there has been serious questions asked of his future with the club, with some expecting him to move on after his first failure in nine years to win a domestic title.
|"I wanted to win and I did. I believed I was number one and I believe I have demonstrated it again this season"
- Andrea Pirlo
For Giovinco and Di Natale, it was also a season of personal and team success. The 'Atomic Ant' was the star of a Parma side that improved markedly on their 2010-11 finish, securing another season in Serie A with plenty to spare. Giovinco's 15 goals more than doubled his previous career best, and has led many observers to speculate that he could return to co-owners Juventus before long.
Di Natale racked up a third straight 20-goal season, with his 23 strikes taking his tally to 80 since the summer of 2009. His continued form has seen him gain a belated call for the provisional Italy squad heading to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012, while his 2012-13 campaign will begin with another Champions League play-off appearance after his goals helped lead Udinese to an unexpected third-place finish.
Pirlo is the winner of your vote, however. The midfielder adds the Goal.com readers' accolade to the Serie A winner's medal he already has on his mantelpiece. So congratulations, Andrea! Now be sure to stay tuned in the coming days for the results of the best coach, best moment and best goal awards.