Jankulovski offers insight into Slavia Praha and reminisces on Milan career

By Ben Dixon -

As AC Milan’s only representative from the Czech Republic, Marek Jankulovski has contributed some insight into the Rossoneri’s opponents and offered his views on Stefano Pioli’s future. 

After storming to an early lead in the Europa League play-off stage, Milan made hard work of their trip to Rennes, and things must now settle in the Round of 16 tournament stage if they are to prove their credentials as one of the favourites.

However, they have been blessed with one of the easier fixtures in the competition, but at this stage, no side will be easy to overcome, especially not Slavia Praha. The Czech representatives have already shown their qualities after beating AS Roma in November and then topping their Group.

The Rossoneri will have to be wary of this as they look to prove they are back to their best, given they have only won one of their past four games. All eyes will, undoubtedly, be on Pioli, given reports before this game have suggested that his ability to take the side far into Europa could be the deciding factor for his future.

Jankulovski spoke to MilanNews ahead of the game and shed some light on the Diavolo’s visitors, among other topics.

What team is Slavia Prague?

“They have won the recent championships, except the last two. It’s a nice compact team because they have an important owner behind them (Pavel Tykač) who recently took over the club from a Chinese group and wants to do very well. He has a really good coach (Jindřich Trpišovský) but it is still a team from the Czech Republic and therefore Milan, considering the double challenge, starts with great favours and I hope they prove it. They will in any case be two open matches, let’s remember that Slavia won their Europa League group by finishing ahead of Roma.”

What kind of environment is Milan likely to find in the Czech Republic, if the match is still open?

“Currently there is enthusiasm around the team for this exciting title race and the stadium is always packed. Even I am having difficulty finding a ticket as a world team will be coming to Prague. It will be a party and the fans are hoping that Slavia can keep the qualification alive in Milan and then play them all at home. I am not saying it will be bedlam, but almost.”

Strengths and weaknesses?

“Up front, there is Mojmír Chytil, an interesting player who scores a lot of goals, as well as Vaclav Jurecka, last season’s top scorer. Overall, it is an offensive team that plays very well up front and, normally, they struggle a bit at the back. In addition, it must be said that the team was practically idle in December and January for the winter break, the league resumed three weeks ago and this may affect them. Let’s say that they might lack the match rhythm that Milan, for example, has.”

Do you expect an attacking style at the San Siro too?

“They are a well-organised team but they always try to play, even take risks.”

Are you enjoying this Milan team?

“Now and then I come to the San Siro but living in Ostrava I couldn’t see every game, but from what I’ve seen I liked it. Milan must always aim high. And having come out of the Champions League, with the Scudetto already decided we hope to win the Europa League and qualify for the Champions League. I like young people who grow, I see a good group.”

Pioli might not continue next season…

“The coach’s job is always difficult but what I would like to point out is: with Pioli, you won a championship, then you reached a Champions League semi-final and this year you qualify for the Champions League. Can you do more with the teams he had at his disposal? In my opinion no. Then the San Siro crowd puts pressure on you, they always want to win. But he couldn’t do more. Berlusconi’s times are over and it must be underlined. The company policy is different, but I see a good young group that is growing.”

Talking about Berlusconi’s golden era, you were the protagonist of his last winning years

“A beautiful, fortunate period, where we won everything. Maybe when I played there I didn’t think too much about it because you have to have the confidence to play with great champions. But now looking back on it, it would take me many minutes to list the number of champions I played with. At home, they tell me that I am the Czech footballer who has played with the most champions, even more than Nedved who won the Golden Ball. And I can only confirm that.”

Among the coaches you have had at Rossoneri: are Ancelotti, Leonardo and Allegri…

“In my career, I’ve had many masters, Ancelotti was, along with Spalletti, the top, having two different characters. Leonardo, I’ll say it sincerely, was more of a manager and his career has shown that. I found Allegri in a year when Milan was focusing on youth, but when I played I still showed my value. Certainly, Max was a different coach from what he is today.”

On the left of your Milan team, there was a lot of competition…
“Serginho was ahead of me, sometimes Paolo played. And then in the last year Antonini.”

Today there’s Théo Hernandez. Would someone like that have space in your Milan?

“I have no doubts. Also because he’s the best left-back around.”

Would there be others in the current Milan team?

“Leao has numbers that others don’t have, he is proving to be very strong. I don’t even need to say Giroud, is a true champion who has won everything. Maignan.”

Among the champions you played with was Ibrahimovic, who now has an increasingly central role in society…

“First of all, I am very happy that Ibra is inside the club. In my opinion, a team like Milan must have someone inside who has Milan in his heart. Before there was Paolo (Maldini) and that’s how it ended. Ibra will be very important, also from the fans’ point of view, because he has the Rossoneri heart and he will also give credibility to the foreign ownership, he is the guarantor”.

Did you expect him in this role?

“You know, I was in Rennes and I spoke to him a little bit, then he said: ‘Janku, I have to go and load the team’. I remember him in the year of the Scudetto (2010/11), he had a crazy strength and personality and he could fit into a role like that. It’s very important that he’s in the club and that he talks to the coach.”

Others are coaching, albeit elsewhere: Nesta, Gattuso, Inzaghi, Oddo, Pirlo, Gilardino. Surprised by anyone?

“I have to tell you that from Pippo I expected it because he’s crazy about football, he can’t live without it. But also from Rino. Even from Oddo, I expected it. I’m a bit surprised by Nesta, I remember him as a quiet guy, I saw him as not very angry. The same for Pirlo. I’m happy for them, they did well to take this path. I’m happy to watch a game and see a former team-mate of mine on the bench.”

Tags AC Milan Marek Jankulovski Milan Slavia Praha


  1. One of the very best for us. “Stole” him from Udine where he was a beast for years before he came to us. Absolutely loved this guy as a player!

    1. ac milan actually also wanted to aquirre his danish team mate martin jørgensen but the deal fell through and he eventually ended up at fiorentina a couple of seasons later.

        1. Never heard or at least doesnt recall him being called that 😀 He was a pretty good player though and getting nicknamed that isnt too bad either 🙂

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