Demetrio Albertini has revealed his belief that the current AC Milan team can channel the spirit of 1999 and win the Scudetto this season.
Albertini has recently published a book called ‘I’ll tell you about the Milan champions’, a book full of his memories with the club, and he gave an interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport to commemorate the launch.
He began by discussing those who have inspired him, and the deep bond he has kept with some of his former team-mates.
“Paolo Maldini, he was my captain. The one that has ‘captained’ me the longest. Franco Baresi was the first, for me he was a myth,” he said (via PianetaMilan).
“A deep bond was created with Paolo, which went beyond the field, as with Alessandro Costacurta. Others? Massimo Ambrosini and Andriy Shevchenko: we always became a group.”
On his funniest former Rossoneri teammates: “Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo. They arrived when I was a leader, and Rino immediately realised it. Once he left the sink strewn with hair after shaving. I picked them up and brought them to him. ‘Are they yours?’ I said and he ‘Sorry, I forgot them’ and put them in his pocket.
“With Andrea I created harmony despite having spent little time as team-mates. I would have liked to have played with him longer.”
On what made Milan great: “The culture of work, but also the organisation. Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani have bequeathed an excellence.
“Milan was not just talent and great coaches, it was a unique club. In the last 35 years, AC Milan has marked the history of world football. There is a before and after Milan.”
On the current AC Milan: “We are on the right path. This group reminds me of the 1999 Scudetto group. We also won by surprise.”
On the differences between that team and the current one: “Today, an old man is enough: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He transformed the team and enhanced the talent of many young people. Stefano Pioli’s Milan do not resemble that of Zaccheroni, but the context in which success can be born yes: on paper it is not the strongest team, but neither were we then…”
What he likes most about this about Milan: “The simple passing lines. Having someone up there like Zlatan reassures you, but Milan is not just that. Pioli has built a team that knows how to make the ball work.”
On how to stay at the top: “At Milanello we learned to always aim for the maximum. And if you fail, you will do your evaluations and understand what needs to be fixed. Nobody was born a winner, not even us in those days: this Milan is laying the foundations to become one.”
On Ibrahimovic, Gigio Donnarumma and Alessio Romagnoli: “The two young players already great. Gigio joined Milan as a kid, like me. Alessio continues the tradition of the great defenders.
“Zlatan is eternal, from another planet, I have only seen one other player always at the top until he is 40. Now he is the technical director [Maldini].
“Marco van Basten is also part of that club, but for the opposite reason: in a short time he showed infinite greatness, he was the strongest teammate.”
On the other future AC Milan champions : “Theo Hernández. I see him more diligent, he has become a bit Italian. Rafael Leão, great qualities that can only explode. And Davide Calabria: he’s another player, I’m happy he went to the national team.”
Finally, Albertini offered some comments on Sandro Tonali, who was Milan’s statement signing of the summer transfer window. He has had a slow start so far and has not impressed a great deal in the games we have seen, but Albertini has told fans to be patient.
“Tonali arrived in a midfield with great balance, to take away the place of Bennacer or Kessie now you have to do exceptional things. Sandro has to shake off a little shyness, then he will take off.”