Pippo Inzaghi has given a long interview reflecting on his time at AC Milan from his first goal to his last, plus of course all the amazing memories and friendships in between.
Inzaghi is rightly regarded as one of the best natural finishers to play the game and his most notable spell came with Milan where he won two Champions League titles (2003, 2007) and Serie A twice.
He scored 313 goals scored in official matches and also holds the record for most hat-tricks in Serie A with 10, showing just how prolific a goal scorer he was.
At international level, Inzaghi earned 57 caps for Italy between 1997 and 2007 and scored 25 goals. Since retiring from football in 2012 he has moved into management and he is now head coach of Salernitana.
He did an interview with Corriere della Sera which was published this morning and he reflected on his career, with his comments relayed by PianetaMilan.
What was it like to turn 50 a few months ago?
“Serene. I have done many things, I have won and I have lost. If up until a few years ago you had asked me what comes first in my life I would have undoubtedly answered ‘the ball’. Today I say ‘my two children’.
Your autobiography ‘The right moment’ is about a crossroads of chance and determination…
“Since I was a boy playing on the concrete pitch of San Nicolò di Piacenza, I have worked to become a good footballer. Indeed, a great footballer: one day ‘the ghost’ of Gerd Müller appeared to me, the historic striker of Bayern Munich and West Germany, who had scored 69 goals in European cimpetitions. I was a boy, I was struck by it. The day I broke Müller’s record was among the best of my life.”
You were decisive in the 2007 Champions League final between Milan and Liverpool…
“The double against Liverpool was my best moment. Two to one and the fans went crazy. But do you know that Silvio Berlusconi predicted it to me the day before?
“My presence on the pitch was in doubt until a few hours before. I wasn’t at my best and Alberto Gilardino was already warming up, then Carlo Ancelotti stalled.
“And Berlusconi called me. ‘I’m sure’, he told me, ‘that you will score two goals tomorrow’. And so it was. Naturally, at the end of the match, the President called me to congratulate me but also to tell me ‘I told you so’.
“I miss him a lot. But I miss many people from that Milan. Ancelotti, for example. He is an intelligent, human, present man. Once for my birthday, which falls on August 9th, he left the whole team free for us to celebrate. I was turning thirty: no one ever thinks about it, but the tension for a footballer increases with age.”
Did injuries play a part in the decision to retire?
“I stopped at 39, today still a very young age, but for us it’s not like that. I remember when I stayed in Belgium for a month because I hurt my leg. Worst birthday ever.
“But Ancelotti sent me a text message: ‘You’ll be great again’, he said. Who knows, I thought. You are never sure of anything when you play at that level.
“I remember my last four minutes on the pitch very well. It was May 13, 2012, 4:45pm. In truth, for me those were supposed to be the last minutes with Milan, then they turned into the final ones. The funny thing is that I had been thinking about retiring for some time, like any conscientious man.
“I’ll do something else, I’ve won a lot, I told myself. The bitter truth is that you can’t control sadness and so, afterwards, I felt terrible. Luckily my family was there: mum, dad, my brother.
“As a footballer I always hated the bench, but then I made it my job, as a coach, because I don’t know how to stay away from the field. It’s not weakness, it’s humanity. And this also explains why, as a coach, I moved from Milan to Venezia, i.e. Lega Pro.
“‘You’re crazy’, they told me, because I could have waited and found something better. But how would I have managed for entire months without the grass of the field?”
Do you have any superstitions?
“I’m not superstitious, but I had a talismanic song, which I always sang on the way to the stadium, before a match, ‘Certe notti’, by Ligabue. He’s an Inter fan? I know, but it has always brought me luck.”
What is the first word that comes to mind if someone mentions Galliani?
“Courtship. He courted me for a long time when I was in Turin, of course. But Galliani is a special person, he knows how to be intelligent and far-sighted. It was he who immediately offered me the role of coach of the Rossoneri Allievi Nazionali after his farewell to the pitch as a player.”
Is it true you gave up a lot of money when you moved from Juventus to Milan in 2001?
“Galliani called me: ‘Pippo, we’ve got five billion lire at stake and we can’t find a solution’. Instinctively, I replied: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll find them’. I signed a five-year contract and gave up a billion in salary for each season.”
How did your parents react to that?
“They applauded. Because they have always taught us to chase the heart and not the wallet. Today I also thank them for this.”
What was Barbara Berlusconi like?
“Kindness. Frost? But no, she helped me. In general, the whole Berlusconi family helped me, my shirt is owned by Luigi, who I met on holiday.”
What does your brother Simone Inzaghi mean to you?
“I could answer ‘everything’. Do you know we’ve never argued? Very rare thing between brothers. Every time one of the two finishes a match, the first phone call is for the other.
“The truth is that now he is the famous one and on the street they sometimes call me Simone. He can’t help but please me, also because I know well what it means to coach a team at a high level.”
Franco Baresi confided that he always dreams of the Champions League final…
“After the brace in the final in Athens I didn’t sleep for ten days straight.”
Do you remember your first goal at San Siro?
“On 3 November 1996, with Atalanta. I dribbled past Alessandro Costacurta and finished with a violent right under the crossbar. Then I got a double yellow card, my first red card in Serie A. But since then, in my entire league career, I have never received a red card again.”