AC Milan striker Olivier Giroud has likened himself to Gladiator for the way that he was always on hand for a decisive contribution when it mattered the most.
The Rossoneri won a 19th league title thanks to a 3-0 victory against Sassuolo on Sunday night when they only needed a draw to secure the Scudetto, and Giroud was once again the man for the big moment as his brace inside the first half effectively killed the game off as a contest.
Giroud gave an interview to Tuttosport in which he recalled his emotions after winning the Scudetto, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
“This Scudetto is really a crazy emotion. As you know, in my long career I have won things, but this is special because it is as if we players had waited eleven years, like the fans, with whom a particular osmosis was created. We felt their emotion for this Scudetto and I am very, very proud to be part of this team that has such supporters,” he began.
“We had a great season for them too. Milan are a great club, which has won a lot in Italy and abroad. And so, for a club like this, staying 11 years without a title is something painful. It doesn’t exist. We have finally put an end to this injustice.”
The veteran forward ended the season with 11 goals in Serie A, some of which were absolutely huge in the context of the season like those against Inter (a match-winning brace), Napoli (a winner in the second half), Lazio (to equalise before Tonali’s goal) and Sassuolo (a brace to seal the title).
“There aren’t many [goals], but luckily I scored the ones that really mattered, that made the difference. The double against Inter made me understand immediately that it was really worth… double: because we were winning the game, but also because we were ahead in head-to-head.
“And if we had drawn in Reggio with Sassuolo, we would have won the title anyway. I pointed out to Saelemakers after he missed an easy chance to make it 2-0 against Napoli that would have allowed us to take the lead even in the head to head clashes with Spalletti’s team. He, to play it down, replied that he was more afraid of Inter.
“If I think about the number of goals scored, I am not particularly satisfied. But if I think about the value of my goals, then yes, I am very happy with what I have done. And still now it comes to me goosebumps, thinking about it.”
Giroud has had to do a lot of the heavy lifting this season with Zlatan Ibrahimovic struggling to stay fit, but he admitted that it has been an ‘honour’ to have made history with him at the Rossoneri.
“For me it is an honour to have rewritten the history of Milan in his company. He is a few years older than me and, when I still had to become a footballer, he was my point of reference. His personality, in the team, is too important. When he speaks, everyone listens and no one is distracted.
“Even after the victory against Sassuolo, in the locker room, he spoke. You feel that he is like the Alpha male. He did congratulations to every player and every staff character. He feels a bit like Braveheart, in his character. And I, staying in the cinematic metaphor, can be the Gladiator of this group.”
Ibra is a top player and a great person. I said I was very proud to have won with him. I like to see him with so much enthusiasm after so many victories. For me he is like an older brother.”
Finally, a word could about Rafael Leao could not be missing as he served a hat-trick of assists at the Mapei Stadium to move on to 11 goals and 10 assists in the league for the 2021-22 campaign, hitting new heights after a couple of seasons that served as an adaptation.
“I saw immediately, as soon as I arrived at Milan, that he had great, great potential. And that if he had become aware of his abilities, he can go high, very high. He is only 22 years old and in my career I have played with many young people of his age: but honestly I do not remember one as strong,” Giroud said.
“I hope he will stay with us, he is the right player to continue growing and pursuing new goals, consistency, he must not limit himself. He will go high, very high. The other day he won the MVP of the season. I approached him and told him that that must not be an end goal for him, but only a point of departure. Where to? We will see.”