Ignazio Abate has spoken about his time at Milan, saying his three best moments with the Rossoneri were the San Siro farewell, the 2011 Scudetto and the 2016 Supercoppa win in Doha.
Abate was never a part of the truly great Milan but was a very loyal servant over the last decade, in which the Rossoneri found little success and mostly struggled.
A few days ago, the contract of Ignazio, who played over 300 Milan games – some of them while wearing the captain’s armband – officially expired and he is now in vacation in Formentera thinking of his next move.
“What Milan do I leave behind? A Milan that has all the components to aim for more important objectives,” Abate said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. “There is a solid base, a squad with technical and mental qualities. I see a rosy future, even if 2-3 specific targets are needed to compete. I agree with what Gattuso said: young players are OK, but you also need players with experience and depth. It’s no longer the time to rely on gambles.
“If a bad taste remains for the non-renewed contract? Let’s say that my dream was to end my career with the Rossoneri, but life goes on. I approached Leonardo with the subject in October and he was absolutely honest with me, he spoke clearly and I knew very quickly the road ahead. Them, of course, over the year I tried to make things difficult for him [laughs].
“If I did the same with Gattuso? Sure. Clearly, I wanted to play more, also because I felt and I feel great both mentally and physically, but I always favored the interest of the group. Rino was and remains a friend, for me he’s always been a role model since I was a kid. I’m sorry that he left, but at the end of the season I saw him really exhausted. He gave a thousand percent, he got us one step away from the Champions League, and he shaped a real group in which everyone was following him. Maybe the club’s programs did not reflect his ideas. I only know that along the season he improved a lot in managing the group and the pressures.
“The three most beautiful moments at Milan? The salute at San Siro was something incredible [against Frosinone], I wasn’t expecting it. Then, the Scudetto of 2011 and the Supercoppa in Doha. The funniest teammate? Robinho, who was f***ing around [laughs]. Pirlo, who presented himself with that face and then came out with stuff… and Inzaghi, with his stories. Who would I take with me from the past? By combining the human side with the professional side, I’d side Ibra, Gattuso and Nesta.
“Leonardo, Maldini and now Boban? I’ll always be in debt to Leo because he launched me. He’s a man above average intellectually and morally. He taught Maldini a lot, who I now see ready. He’s the right person in the right place. With Boban it’s a great mix.
“The experience with the Chinese Milan? I was incredulous when Berlusconi left. I thought it would never happen. I grew up with him and Galliani, who was a second father to me. The worst thing about the Chinese owners was feeling like a stranger in your own ‘home’. I even thought about leaving. There was nothing left of the Milan I knew. It was all twisted.
“Would I return to Milan as a coach? Only a fool would say ‘no’. But first, as Rino says, you need to earn your stripes. More than on the field, I see myself behind the desk, perhaps as a director of sport. Where do I see myself in the short term? I know there are many interests, especially in Italy but no only. I’m not ruling out foreign options. I will decide based on the project, I want to compete to win and get back into the game immediately. I hope to find something passionate.”