Stefano Pioli received the 2021 Nils Liedholm award today and he addressed the press afterwards.
The Liedholm Award is attributed each year to an athlete that is particularly noted not only for his results achieved, but also for the important values of loyalty, fairness, courtliness, transparency and elegance that have characterized the life and the sports carrier of the Nils.
This year’s recipient is Milan coach Stefano Pioli: “It’s a pride for me to receive this award. Nils represented elegance, style and the wisdom of being a gentleman both on and off the field. He passed on many values, I’m trying to do the same in my own small way,” he said on stage.
Are there any similarities between this Milan and Liedholm’s?
“It’s difficult to find analogies. We started our journey two years ago, we hope to reap the benefits soon. It takes time, we are trying to get the maximum as soon as possible.”
Can Tonali become the Captain of Milan in the future?
“He is a great talent. He has everything to become a great player and a Bandiera [club icon] at Milan.”
There is a lot of talk about your style on the bench…
“I believe that the most important thing is to always be yourself. I put everything I have into what I do. In football, it’s not easy to find balance. This Milan is young, it needs time to grow and also to make mistakes, to become a great team.”
Do you dream of coaching the national team one day?
“In the future maybe yes, but right now I want to be on the field. Milan is a great club and I hope to continue as much as possible.”
Do you hope to stay at Milan for a long time?
“I hope so. I’ve had a positive feeling from Day 1, we have created a great relationship with everyone. We are well together, we are all going towards the same direction. This is fundamental.”
How has the role of the coach evolved?
“Football has changed a lot. You have to take advantage of every moment to make a player grow both individually and collectively. Playing every three days is not easy, it’s hard especially on a mental level. Luckily I coach a team with great desire to do.”
What other sports do you follow besides football?
“I’m a big fan of high-level sports and I take a little bit of something from everyone. So many coaches have left something behind. Our profession leads us to always think about what to do and what to say, every now and then we need to disconnect and so having other passions is important.”
What coach has left behind the most for you?
“I’ve had many coaches and played with great players. As a player, the coaches who have left something for me behind are Giovanni Trapattoni, Osvaldo Bagnoli and Claudio Ranieri. They all helped me cultivate my idea of the game, which is now very precise.”
Pioli also spoke to the press after the event:
What does it mean to you to receive this award and who was Liedholm to you?
“Liedholm was a great footballer, a great coach and a great sportsman. I’m very honored to have won this award.”
Will there be talk of renewal soon?
“I’m in full harmony with the club, we have found a great synergy in working together. There is will on both sides to continue working together.”
Are you expecting some reinforcements in January or will you count more on those recovering from injuries?
“I think we will have to be good at recovering players like we are doing. I hope that after the break we’ll have most of the group available. The staff is at a high level, we have started the season well but we’ll have to be good at continuing at this level.”
Do you feel more ‘inside’ Milan than two years ago?
“I believe that the relationship between Milan and me is constantly growing. I immediately felt the right energy and I’m feeling great motivation. We must be good at continuing to work with this humility and with this consistency. Difficult challenges await us but if we have this desire and determination, we can do well.”
After the break there will be Fiorentina, a non-trivial opponent for you, where you shared your journey with Astori. What memory do you have of Davide and what do you expect from this game?
“Davide had the same values of a correct, wise and generous sportsman. Playing against Fiorentina for me will not be a normal match, it will remain a difficult match against a team that plays well. We’ll try to prepare well for it.”
In what can Milan grow?
“Milan can grow in many situations. We are more aware and mature but we have to find the ability to be a compact team in the difficult moments of matches and we’ll have to be more clinical when we can close matches. The team can be perfected.”
Do you see a grown Milan, and what do you think of Napoli?
“The path we have taken and the results of last season have given awareness to the team. Even against the big clubs we have confidence in our means. Napoli are a great team and they deserve the position they have, we have our characteristics and they have their precise qualities.”
Do you fear the use of Ibrahimović in the national team?
“I’m happy that Zlatan is in the national team because he is doing well. I don’t fear his tiredness, he is a Champion and the match against Spain is far from our next match. The experiences with Zlatan are positive and have made the whole team grow.”
Your thoughts on the Derby…
“It was a beautiful Derby, full of emotions and duels. The teams played with great conviction of their own means. Inter are a very strong team and they showed it on Sunday, but we have grown.”