Photo: Vancouver Whitecaps forward Robert Earnshaw nabs Andrea Pirlo's shirt after New York City FC clash

The former Cardiff City, West Bromwich Albion and Nottingham Forest striker faced the Italy legend in Saturday's 2-1 loss at BC Place.

Robert Earnshaw may not have been getting much playing time with the Vancouver Whitecaps this season but, after previous stints at Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire, the veteran striker’s third MLS spell has at least given him the chance to rub shoulders with some of the game’s biggest names.

After Saturday night’s 2-1 home defeat to New York City FC, the former Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest forward managed to get his hands on Andrea Pirlo’s shirt and also snapped a photo with the Italian World Cup winner.

While Pirlo played the full 90 minutes at BC Place, though, Earnshaw only earned a 10-minute run-out off the bench as the hosts searched for an equaliser – the most action he has seen in an MLS game since joining Vancouver in March following a successful trial.

Linking up with ex-Wales teammate and now Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson in the Pacific Northwest, the Zambian-born hitman made an instant impact on his debut when he scored a stoppage-time winner within three minutes of coming on, but he has since been forced to settle for just one start in eight goalless appearances.

Nevertheless, the 34-year-old has taken to his bit-part role without any problems and instead used his time in Vancouver to act as a valuable mentor in the dressing room to fellow attackers Darren Mattocks, Octavio Rivero, Kekuta Manneh, Nicolas Mezquida, Cristian Techera, Erik Hurtado and Caleb Clarke.

He even earned the first piece of club silverware in his long career last month when the Whitecaps beat the Montreal Impact 4-2 on aggregate to win the Canadian Championship title, and he could have the chance to add a few more winner’s medals to his collection over the coming months.

Robinson’s men are currently just two points behind Supporters' Shield leaders LA Galaxy with a game in hand going into their final four regular-season fixtures and will be a definite force to be reckoned with come the MLS Cup play-offs.

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