Riccardo Montolivo has shed some light on the end of his Milan career, calling the last year and a half with the Rossoneri ‘an ordeal’, as he announced his retirement from football.
After seven years with Milan, the contract of Riccardo Montolivo expired at the end of the last season. The former Italy midfielder was one of the most heavily-criticized players of the Rossoneri, and today he announced his decision to retire.
From now on, Montolivo will only play with his daughter Mariam and son Mathias. It’s now time for the next chapter in the story of Riccardo, who was born on January 18, 1985, in Milano, where his dad worked as an anesthetist. “And here I live, with my family. What I will do now, I don’t know, I have to think about it,” he said in an interview with il Corriere della Sera’s Giampiero Timossi. His last game was on May 13, 2018, Atalanta-Milan.
Will your last professional game remain as it is?
“Yes. In that stadium, where I made by Serie A debut with Atalanta, against Lecce, in 2004.”
More than 15 years have passed. Do you remember how you slept the night before?
“I didn’t sleep much, especially since at the time my roommate in the ritiro was Gautieri, and with him there was little sleep…”
Other nights, dates, matches and water divides: Saturday, December 22 2018, Milan-Fiorentina ends 0-1, Gattuso prefers to play a fullback in front of the defense (Calabria) rather than let you play. Did you not sleep that night because of anger?
“No, at that point t seemed obvious to me that the problem wasn’t me. And that the answers to my questions would never come.”
Didn’t you do anything?
“I talked to the coach. He told me that the data from my tests was not at the level of my teammates. It would’ve been impossible considering I wasn’t allowed to train with the group until mid-November. To justify my call-up, then, Gattuso referred to the unavailability of Brescianini and Torrasi, two Primavera players. Almost as if he had to apologize.”
What happened when you came to training?
“After the keep away with the team, I was invited to train, often alone, sometimes with Halilović or with the youth of the Primavera.”
What happened with Gattuso?
“For me, nothing. But I couldn’t explain this situation and I never got any answers.”
A difficult start for your relationship?
“No, actually. In November 2017, when he replaced Montella, Gattuso called me and some other more experienced players to ask and get the right support.”
You hadn’t been the captain of Milan for a few months…
“Since the previous summer, coach Montella, director of sport Mirabelli. They are the ones who after Bonucci’s arrival told me that I should give him the captain’s armband. I replied that it didn’t seem like a good idea, because was Milan was a great club, it had delicate balances. Other teammates like Bonaventura would have played that role better and in any case, the decision had to be taken in the dressing room.”
What did they say?
“That there was no discussion, it was the choice of the then President Yonghong Li. I got the same answer from Bonucci.”
So it wasn’t you who went to give the armband to him?
In 2017, one of Mirabelli’s moves was the arrival of Biglia. Was this the end of the Montolivo Milanista career?
“If so, then no one has ever told me that. Biglia was an important signing.”
He is only a year younger than you…
“I don’t discuss that. There could’ve been a change in hierarchies, he could’ve been the starter and I could’ve been the back-up.”
Another year, end of July 2018: why did you not leave with the teammates for the USA?
“It was never explained to me. The MilanLab data confirmed my excellent condition, but evidently it was not the problem. The decision was communicated to me by the Team Manager, with a text message the day before the departure.”
Did you also talk to the new management about it?
“I also talked about with Leonardo and Maldini, everyone told me that I had become the third-choice, which I had to understand. But it was a sense of indolence, the thing that depressed me the most. Then, after the Milan-Fiorentina incident, it seemed clear to be that I was no longer the third choice. Perhaps, I had become the ninth choice.”
Another key date: May 9 2018, the final of the Coppa Italia against Juventus. You enter at 4-0. What do you think?
“It was certainly not a manifestation of esteem and affection.”
But you stayed, you understood…
“I stayed for different reasons. At the end of July, after not being called-up for the tour, there were only a handful of days left for the end of the transfer market, which ended that summer in Ferragosto.”
In the following January?
“A drip of rumours had begun. I was fine, I am fine, but someone started not to believe it: as if they didn’t want to contradict Milan and bet on me. Anyways, let’s be clear: I’ve never refused a transfer.”
Did you arrive at the right place at the wrong time, becoming the symbolic captain of the Milanese decadence?
“Maybe… 10 days later Ibra and Thiago Silva were sold. And then I think back to the goal in the first derby: nice, really, but disallowed for a non-existent foul. Maybe it was a signal.”
When will you meet Gattuso and what will you tell him?
“Maybe I’ll say goodbye. But I remember that he told me: ‘I would not have reacted like this to this situation’. Evidently, we are different.”
Montolivo also had an interview with Ivan Zazzaroni of il Corriere dello Sport, where he discussed many of the same things but revealed some more details about what happened. “At the end I also received the compliments of the coach, and do you know what he added…?” Riccardo said. “That in my place he would’ve been crazy. And I felt like I was being mocked once more…
“33, I played for the last time in May 2018, at Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, the same stadium where I had started playing 16 years before. Two, seven, seven. Two seasons at Atalanta, seven at Fiorentina and seven at Milan, even if the last year and a half was an ordeal: being put on the sidelines, answers never given, truth circumvented or denied, strange oversight, carelessness… Grudge…? No, I don’t hold grudge. Those who has been wrong with me, those who have disrespected me, and repeatedly, will perhaps come to terms with their conscience.
“I have never made a mess because education and respect are values with which I grew up. I have a solid moral character in terms of tolerance, even if someone has really exaggerated with me. I didn’t give interviews, I didn’t look for easy shores, because for me Milan always had to prevail. I was like that, if I had gone to war I’d probably have achieved something but I wouldn’t have been able to look in the mirror anymore… I had a surreal experience.”
“At the end of a season in which in January I had practically stopped playing, not because of my will or due to physical problem, the coach told me that I’d be a part of the group even if I lose centrality. I agreed to get back in the game, I was on the last year of my contract. Shortly before leaving for the tour in the United States, however, I received a text message from the team manager, the former referee Romeo: ‘You are not coming’. Reasons and explanations – zero. Elliott took over from the Chinese, at the end of July Leonardo and Maldini took the place of Mirabelli and inherited my situation. Leonardo in some way reassured me, and from that moment on I stopped being considered available. They let me train alone, alone or together with Halilović. I just took part in the keep away games. In the matches between the first team and the Primavera, I always played with the latter and I was used in all roles except my own. I specify that the July tests at MilanLab had confirmed that I was doing very well, the best physical results I ever had.”
Is there anything else?
“In a scattered order… Juve-Milan 4-0, the final of the Coppa Italia, the coach let me enter in the 80′ minute. Maybe to try to reverse the result…”
You were the captain of Milan. I remember you had to leave the armband to Bonucci…
“It wasn’t me who gave it to him. They told me that Yonghong Li had decided that the armband would be passed to one of the new signings. When they told me about it, I explained that I found it unfair, that they were making a big mistake because there are hierarchies in the dressing room that should always be respected. I named Bonaventura and Romagnoli. Nothing, Bonucci.”
And what did Mirabelli say to you?
“Simply that it was a decision by the President.”
A remarkable answer…
“Like the explanation that was given by Gattuso when he called me up for the first time, ‘because Brescianini and Torrasi are injured’. Brescianini and Torrasi, we are talking about two Primavera players and they were not even aggregated to the first team. But I think the maximum was reached when Biglia was out and I was on the bench, José Mauri played centrally and Calabria, a fullback, played mezz’ala. At a certain point, José Mauri asked for a substitute and the coach moved Calabria centrally and Çalhanoğlu played mezz’ala. After that incident, I tried to ask Leonardo for his explanations, his answer was this: ‘It was the decision of the coach’. He had said that I had no minutes [in my legs]. But how could I have minutes if he never put me in…? I never imagined being able to have such an experience.”
In January you could have asked to be transferred…
“Some teams came knocking, even from outside [of Italy]. As soon as they were informed that I hadn’t played in over a year, they disappeared. Let me be clear that I never rejected any offer. I was ready to leave, though I suspect someone feared that I was broken because there could be no other plausible explanation. But I was fine.”
Did your teammates ever moved a finger in your defense? After all you were still the captain of Milan…
“In today’s football, everyone thinks for themselves, these are seasons of precariousness, of spaces to be conquered and not given up. Solidarity, the sense of the group, it’s stuff of the past… And anyways, they couldn’t have achieved anything. I myself, after the first meeting, stopped chasing empty words: the facts were enough for me.”
Some people say that it was Mirabelli who suggested Gattuso to put you on the sidelines to ‘protect’ and justify the purchase of Biglia, who is only a year younger than you and cost €24m. I don’t forget, however, that you were disliked by most of the fans and that the press has never been too benevolent with you…
“What Mirabelli did or said, you shouldn’t ask me, since he’s still active. As for the whistles and the indifference of the press, it’s all true: I was the fact, the image of the decadent Milan… a person close to me told me that I should have grasped and interpreted a very clear signal.”
“The goal that was cancelled in the first Derby for a foul on the goalkeeper committed by an Inter player. It’s also true that a few days later I also scored in the national team.”
When did you decide to leave football? I don’t ask you why…
“I can repeat myself that they I’ve been condemned to retire. And I haven’t had a chance to say goodbye to the fans after 7 years…”
To me this (he didn’t play at all) has been the biggest mistery in Milan during the last season. We all may criticise him for his bad performances, but let’s be fair and say that he didn’t deserve the treatment he got. No player in the professional world deserves such treatment, and yet it happened in a club like Milan. Players with bad performances or attitudes are usually punished, but it is always clear why they are given the punishment. We all know (at least from this blog) that the club officials never gave a clear explanation on this. I… Read more »
Obviously if there IS something he did do to trigger Milans bad treatment towards him,he would not mention nor speak of it.For example, He was one of the players who where rumored to behave with descent towards Seedorf which ultimately forced hes dismissal,and not once is that story even suggested in the interview. So there no reason to pity him, as I am sure Milan had very good reasons.
@tsep. Your memory is very sharp!.. you just stole this comment from me. Monty deserves no pity at all. This guy., de sciglio and poli. Formed a force to destroy dorf’s dressing room. Where did they all end up ? KARMA!!!
If he really did the rumoured nasty stuff, then yes he deserved a punishment. But still, that’s not how a big club of values and traditions like Milan should punish a player for misconducts. Doing so just makes the club as bad as the player.
… aside Donnarumma and Bonaventura and maybe Romagnoli he is the only man of Da Milán. You should know better.
U are here shouting unworthy since he didn’t play so tell me those who played instead where did they put milan now? Those who refused to see his point when he said bonucci shouldn’t be given the captain band have seen how Bonucci rubbished milan when he went back to juventus Milan has lost it’s glory and become something of a shame, we lost our tradition because we had those who lost principles, we lost our pride and dignity because the club was handed over to those who never achieved fame We became a laughingstock all over the world because… Read more »
You said it all Emmy. Believe me Monty wasn’t even that bad..
@Makavelli he was our best player until Donnarumma and Bonaventura stepped up. The man could do anything in midfield. And to have such balls to miss due injuries 2 WC and still lift his head and keep fighting shows the professionalism and values that Milan and the whole sport miss. Niang crashing and jumping from buildings, Balotelli being him, Mastour being a youtuber, Kessie disgracing the fair play, biglia arguing with a kid(Kessie) managment giving the armband yo a Juventino. A loanee disrespecting the coach. The managment deluding fans. He stood up and never talked shit about Milan, what a… Read more »
U are correct. I said it in this platform when Bonucci was given the captain band
Montolivo still remains a Milan hero for staying during the problem situation
Monty was Even wanted by Real freaking Madrid, people praise Zlatan and Kaká, but Kaká had a clause that said that he could leave for free if they team didnt reach CL and he left. Zlatan opted for MLS and Manchester rejecting us twice, and Tiago Silva wants to return as his time at París is finished. Monty a guy good enough to represent Italy at two WC stayed at the worst Milan in decades. I do remember how badly he was missed when he got injured, The midfield was Lost and we dropped points anywhere. He was the one… Read more »
I was initially very happy with him joining us for free when he did but besides of injuries ruining his career he can pretty much thank himself for ending up where he did. First of all he was one of the main culprits in getting seedorf sacked when a group of players revolted after he said that 75% of the squad of the time had to be discarded. Had milan kept seedorf at the time we would atleast have been in a better shape now as he wasnt a yes sayer like the the majority following in his footsteps accepting… Read more »
My question to u is that u said it was rumoured he was amongst the players who revolted when seedorf said 75% of the team should be discarded . Were u there? U said it was rumoured which may also be false or true My second question is despite the fact he didn’t play a single match did those who were preferred over him take us to champions league? It’s capital NO Finally the last question was it justified able to bring in a defender to play as a midfielder when a midfielder had injury and was taken out? Let… Read more »
Good enough for a World Cup but not good for Milan? Come on!
Raven i actually said i was happy about him joining us to begin with but injuries did make his career falter so stop implying i said otherwise because i know you do realize that injuries can ruin players and their abilities.
I never said it was rumoured i said he WAS one of the main culprits and no i was not there but as i remember it painted AND assuming it was correct it was fairly clear for all to see that a group of players was working actively against the coach. So because we didnt endup in cl with those chosen above him it must mean we chose wrong and it would have gone better with him ? haha thats a lousy argument with no validity to it. You can allways argue against using calabria in the midfield but on… Read more »
The only one who worked against Seedorf was Berlusconi and Galliani. And if Montolivo speaked which I don’t remember seeing an official statement that would’ve been the dressing room captain standing up to his men. You understand hierarchy? That’s what a captain does, inside the dressing room he probbably said, please more respect to us proffesional. What Seedorf said it was a blow against Berlusconi who clearly didnt want to spend anymore. Essien, López, Alex, Kaka those only won season tickets. Players loved Seedorf and Poli for example played the best under him, as trequartistsa if I’m not mistaken. So… Read more »
Just as much assumptions on how some of the people here on the blog are percieving the situation. Yes partially but a captains role is foremost also to be the right-hand man of the coach and regardless of seedorfs comments which can be argued had an unfortunate effect in itself the captain should accept the coaches decisions or step down himself. On the other hand he can mediate as a link between players and coach but in that sense he shouldnt take that side which is a balancing act. You can deffently argue it was a blow towards berlusconi but… Read more »
@emmy Apache, a 4th question, was he the only player who revolted against Seedorf? Why were the others still playing while he was sidelined? I’m not excusing Montolivo’s actions against me,lol, but such a treatment is an embarrassment to a club like Milan. That’s purely cruel. Send him away rather than frustrate his career. If his words are true then Milan did very bad
I feel so sorry for him, this is heartbreaking and is the image of the current Milan, a team without managment. Goodbye Capitano.
Milan is a team that kills carrers, when some ask for the impossible they don’t realizar what agents have realized. Milan is leaking oil, is doomed. What I’m trying to Say is that more than often managment convince a top player like Montolivo was being a Starter next to Pirlo and De Rossi but de hired him as our only investment in the midfield. Why? I can’t figure it out. Bacca, Menez, Torres and Even coaches like Seedorf Mihajlovic and Gattuso has been burned for hyping the next scapegoat. I honestly thought that we where on the right direction Leonardo,… Read more »
I sympathize with the situation.
But if a club as big as Milan does certain things to you, it only means that you have done something that has a negative effect on the overall condition of the team. And you won’t tell that to the press.
Just that simple
I always feel bad for Monty situation and I don’t think he deserved the way he was treated.
Just see how “fans” disgraced Maldini on his last Match at San siro. What could expect from a scapegoat and the guy who wore the armband after Maldini and Ambrosini. I was wishing he had fire in his spirit for a couple of seasons, but he has found the love he was denied by the media in his family. And I wish him the best. It’s insanely heartbreaking how he still has a pic of him wearing a Milan shirt on his Instagram…. That’s unconditional love for the history of the club, to be able to love besides the crowd… Read more »
Oh, Monty … The symbol of medicore Milan who never managed to really fulfill his potential at Milan. And his massive injury towards the end of his career was the final nail in the coffin. He was slow, could contribute zero in the final third, and couldn’t dribble past a player if his life depended on it, but still he was treated somewhat unfairly by the crowd. Being the intelligent player that he his, Monty had tactical awareness more than anyone on the roster, and he really knew how to work within his limits. He lead the league in turnovers,… Read more »
The sad part is that some of our current midfielders are even weaker compare to him.
Now, come on … you must be exaggerating Sohiel.
Kessie has muscle, Bennacer has potential, Paqueta is already developed and is already near Bona’s level, Bona was our best midfielder last season, Calhanoglu has lots of technique that makes him useful. Biglia is excelent at his positioning but nothing else. Krunic? Just a depth player. Montolivo is great at positioning, creating chances when sent in a more advanced role, wasn’t as slow as people claimed which help delivering interceptions, he was very good holding the ball. And IMO was the perfect midfielder to field with his back to the goal. Last season a miedfield of Paqueta Montolivo as Attacking… Read more »
Let’s just settle this by getting Xhaka, a proper DM who should be perfect to partner Bennaser (with Biglia for backup). Biglia can still contribute, as he showed in Pioli’s first match (at least in the first half).
The Coach, directors & management never gave any explanation about his situation to us or apparently him. So they are the bad guy. If you don’t want a player, release him. + i don’t think Montolivo was our worst player last season. Not even our worst defensive midfielder. Even right now I would pick him over Biglia. The way we treated Montolivo, the armband and him not playing is not fair. Of course it’s not the first time this happened in our club. Maldini’s farewell, the way we treated Kaladze, Leonardo when he was our coach (search it. You will… Read more »
What happened with Kaladze? I never heard of anything about him..
He was one of our best defenders until he wasn’t anymore ( he even made Maldini yo change position to left back again. Kaladze, Nesta, Maldini, Cafu is best combination I’ve ever seen), two years of contract, the boycott him out of squad till he joined Genoa. He was really sad about the situation and the fact they never said it to his face. Of course bas a politician he made friends with them but it doesn’t change the fact that we always do that. Even Montolivo capitancy when we had Abbiati and Abate in our squad was the exact… Read more »
My favorite Milan back 4:
Kalazde was a decent squad player, but I wouldn’t say he was one of our top players at any time.
Stam was never an starter in our team when Kala, Maldini Nesta were available. (He played 20 to 25 games in his second season. Sometimes as RB but beside our disagreement about Kala, Stam was also amazing. It makes me sad when we had Stam, Oddo, Costacorta as subs) You probably don’t remember that but for a period of time Maldini was benched for Kaladze. (You can probably check that by a little search & number of games in wiki. I remember that because back then I worked in Goal Persian section and we coverd it) + I don’t remember… Read more »
I was also quite young when Baresi and Costacurta played together, but I remember Barasi was amazing – a defensive god who no one can touch (at least from my young eyes)
+++ the serginho – nesta – maldini – cafu combination was very rare. Carleto shift Serginho to LB when Maldini got injured and we changed Kala position to CB.
I have an amazing memory about stupid small things 😀 but I don’t remember important things like exams and payments
Yeah, here we are remembering different seasons I guess – This was during Maldini’s final yeays where he regularly played CB; I recall Serginho being first choice LB though he was often injured.
Anyways, everything from those days is obviously a far cry from what we have today… only Donna could have played in those days, surely better than Dida 😉
You know all this talk about previous players made me think about who would make my dream Milan team that I seen with my eyes.
Strange enough the 11 players I chose (Abbiati, Maldini, Kala, Nesta, Cafu, Pirlo, Seedorf, Rino, Ambro, Kaka, Inzaghi) were the base of Carleto famous Christmas tree.
I couldn’t think of any players who played for us recently to mention in this team. None. In 5 years if he stays, I may put Donna in goal but as you said before and some others said before. This shows how bad our current players are.
You forgot Shevchenko.
On this point, you nailed it man. As much as you would want it to be, this Milan is not a family. And I don’t know if this management would try to instill this.
I envy Barca on this.
Barcelona are quickly becoming a joke and basically spend absurd amounts of money to remain competitive instead of promoting from their youth so there’s nothing to be envious of nowadays with them. They certainly arent a family anymore and once Messi retires they’ll have big problems.
I see.. If this continues I don’t know if the club will still deserve the respect and love.. and your last sentence is so true.
Am sure he’s a nice guy but he typified Milans fall into Mediocrity and was very frustrating to watch so am glad he’s finally gone.