Silvio Berlusconi has spoken to MilanTV ahead of the club’s 120 year anniversary.
Milan are celebrating 120 years in six days’ time (December 15) and the club’s official TV channel aired an interview with Silvio Berlusconi today.
The former President of the Diavolo, who was the owner of the club from 1986 to 2017, selling to the Chinese Yonghong Li who then handed over the club to the American fund Elliott Management Corporation, the current owners, stated:
“I was born Milanista, I used to go to the stadium with my dad, for many years. Milan had a special place in my heart and like all the kids, I saw the Milan players as role models for dedication and perseverance to obtain important and difficult results. And when I saw that things at Milan were going from bad to worse, with all that had occurred I decided to get in the game and that’s where my story at Milan started, one that then turned out to be marvelous. It was not just a spark, but a fire!
“After the first year, where we had to make do with the situation there was before, with Liedholm as manager and so on, and with the players signed by the previous owners of the club, we then ran a quite impressive first transfer campaign, then started talks with Arrigo Sacchi as we saw in Sacchi a coach who had a clear idea of football, who could instill in the players the right mindset, someone who could instill teamwork, and set specific objectives to achieve.
“I sat next to him and we worked together on a schedule that many considered overly ambitious and they would laugh at our objectives and even the players thought we were mad. But in the end we did meet our schedule as we won the Scudetto in Italy, the European Cup, followed by the International Cup in Tokyo. We did spiritual exercises and I was accustomed to these as I grew up in the Salesian youth centers and every year we went on a spiritual retreat trying to focus only on ourselves, on our main goals and our future. I did the same thing at Milan by gathering at Castle Pomerio, every club employee, and they were all surrounded by an atmosphere which had been created to obtain the results we wanted to achieve and the outcome was absolutely positive.
“I liked Sacchi a lot because he was very respectful, humble, would answer questions with absolute precision, and would listen to what Galliani and I had to say to him with a deep sense of regard. That’s why I was thoroughly convinced he was the right man for Milan. In those days, defensive football reigned in Italy and all the teams, especially when playing away, would just focus on defending and playing on the counter-attack. We revolutionized this philosophy and Milan became the team that took to the field to dominate, to win, to create chances, to score plenty of goals, to play quality and entertaining football for the fans and to always respect our opponents.
“I had read of Van Basten’s exploits in the papers and seen him on TV and I was immediately convinced that to sign him – since he was far from wanting to come to Italy – I would have to use all my powers of conviction and persuasion to make him accept our offer. We all know how it went when he came to Milan.”
Berlusconi was also asked about a letter he once wrote, which read: “Dear father, from those sleepless nights working at home to make ends meet for a family in post-war Italy, how sweet a memory it is today remember you and Milan together in the moment of success, in those of great acclaim, of Milan’s international fame in present days. Let me, my dear old Milan, mix my story with yours.”
The former Italy Prime Minister said: “I still carry with me those values and an absolute love for my father, whom I was lucky enough to have. I wrote that letter in one go because it was my feelings that turned into words, and I dedicated that great victory to my lovely dad.
“[Sacchi, Capello and Ancelotti] were the only three coaches I could fully work with, in total harmony, both for Milan’s philosophy and style of play, and for the starting XI they would pick every Sunday and which they would discuss with me before every game.
“No one believed we could achieve those results and I’m absolutely satisfied and pleased: thanks to Milan’s victories, I am the most successful President in the history of world football. Wherever I go, there’s someone who wants to shake my hand, hug me and even kiss me, to tell me they are Milanisti and thank me for the Milan we managed to build. And this happens not only in Italy, but also abroad.
“There are many Rossoneri fans, even non-Italians, who recognize me, approach me, congratulate me and want to hug me.”