Ivan Gazidis spoke at length to Mauro Suma of Milan Studios to conclude the 2020/21 season.
The past season was Milan’s best one in years as they finished in second place and qualified for the Champions League.
The preparations for the new season will start next month, but today Milan Studios posted an interview, conducted by Mauro Suma, with Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis, which you can read in full here:
What a season it’s been!
“What a season! What two years! We witnessed a special season, exciting. Such a great club as Milan with fans all over the world, there’s a sense of unity that makes me proud and gives the club an incredible strength.”
Shall we look back at this season? Let’s start from the end [Gazidis is shown a video of Milan beating Atalanta and celebrating the Champions League qualification]
“Out of this world. What a feeling, we are in the Champions League! We suffer just like all of you. This was the culmination of a long and hard journey, in the end we made it and we deserve it, really. Not only what we have done but how, this is really important to me. This was a deserved win for all our fans.”
This team, in the most delicate moments of the season has always shown its soul…
“Yes it’s true. This group is special. It’s a young group of players, it’s true, but with an incredible mentality, a group with great inner strength, a group that is eager to win with this club. This team has always responded. This comes from our mentality and style of play too, the system of play is important to instill confidence and this group is really strong.”
[Gazidis is shown a video of Kessié scoring a penalty against Atalanta]
“This is incredible, really, Franck is ice-cold. In these situations, Franck is incredible.”
The fans have always been behind the team…
“I am lost for words for these fans. For the past 2 years, we’ve been through troubled times, the whole world has, but we’ve always felt their support, in every moment and these images show a club in which we are all together as one and with this attitude, everything is possible for this club, really everything is possible. It has not been an easy journey, it requires time, and we are only at the beginning.”
Is this love?
“Yes, it’s love.”
[Gazidis is shown a video of Milan Women celebrating their qualification for the Champions League]. And our warriors?
“This was a fantastic moment because our girls and the staff had a fantastic season, we have to continue like this because we are playing in the Champions League next season, with our Women’s team too, and we want to continue on this journey. I have no words to describe this team, just fantastic. Valentina [Giacinti] is a force of nature, she always gives 120%, in every play, every moment of the match. She sets an example not only in Women’s football but in Men’s football, too, and for everything.”
The club, Ivan, comes first…
“This is the most important thing, the club comes first: before our individual interests, that spirit in unity is necessary, always in the club’s interest.”
Has Stefano Pioli proved it to you?
“Stefano sets a great example, he went through times with great pressure on him but has always put the club first. Stefano has a gift, he can make difficult and complex things simple. He’s a profound man, his passion surprised me, some for his strength and confidence in the group, how close he is to each player, the respect he shows to each player. This is nothing ordinary but Stefano has these qualities. We have a strong squad, with strong players, is this enough to succeed? It’s a delicate balance, it’s not easy. You need quality players, we have a modern off-the-field team that’s doing a great job, with Paolo Maldini as a central point; not only Paolo is a technical leader, but when you think of the club’s values, this is equally important. Our fans now see a team they can believe in.”
It’s said Milan never protest, Milan has no clout…
“No, we do have clout. We have Paolo Scaroni as Chairman, powerful and with lots of credibility and clout, for sure. We have a person like Paolo Maldini, who has clout. Milan has presence, Milan shows its power when we speak.”
What’s your idea of football? Vertical football?
“I love football, football is always evolving, it’s not about the system of play, it’s about mentality. Modern football has more one-on-ones, this is really important. Transitions are really important in modern football, these five seconds are really important. In modern football speed and strength are important, too. And, last but not least, of course, technique.”
One of our players comes to mind: Fikayo Tomori who embodies all these traits [Gazidis is shown a video with Tomori’s highlights]…
“Fik is a nightmare for every striker, nothing is easy against Fik. It’s impossible to outpace him, or to outmuscle him.”
Fik, but not just him…
“No, in fact, this mentality can be found in each and every one of our players, as can these technical attributes; we have strong, fast and modern players, we want players with these aforementioned qualities to grow inside and alongside our club. Milan is back in the Champions League, it’s true, and this is a considerable step forward.”
[Gazidis is shown a video of the Curva Sud fans celebrating outside of Casa Milan at the end of the season]
“Really, this gives me goosebumps. I want to say thank you to our fans because this support has been a huge driver of our growth. My biggest hope is that the future, I will be considered just a Milan fan, like them, with them. Forza Milan, sempre!”