The passing of Silvio Berlusconi seems to have ignited some nostalgia among AC Milan fans, who dream of seeing their team among Europe’s best again.
As La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) recall, it was in July 1986 that Berlusconi descended from the sky with around ten thousand Rossoneri fans gathered at the Arena Civica looking up as Wagner’s Valkyries Apocalypse Now played.
It really would be an ‘apocalypse’ of sorts because Milan’s entire world changed. In those 31 years under Berlusconi they went from fighting bankruptcy at the start to having won 29 major trophies and the Rossoneri were used to flying very high.
The passing of Silvio has caused the Milan supporters to relive and reimagine what it was like to be at that level, constantly competing for the highest honours and to be not just the best team in Italy but in Europe.
When it comes to numbers, Paolo Maldini is the absolute top with 902 games for the club, the most present in its history. After Berlusconi sold to Yonghong Li and then Elliott Management seized control, Maldini became a guarantor of the new Milan.
He accepted a supporting role, leaving the main one to Leonardo, but then a year later he became the leading actor and with him the team returned to being protagonists, winning the Scudetto and reaching the final four in the Champions League,
In the summer of 2022 when Milan were champions again and tens of thousands of fans celebrated in Piazza Duomo – where today there will be tears and emotion for Silvio – there were songs and celebrations.
That enthusiasm continued for a whole year at San Siro as the average attendance of 71,607. Almost two million supporters passed through the turnstiles, meaning they showed up even when the team sometimes didn’t.
These were all expressions of the desire for a ‘Grande Milan’, and the Curva Sud summed it up in a banner during the final game: “Another year has passed, it’s time for the transfer market. Owners, we want the leap in quality.”
After the league title win came the leap forward in Europe as star players like Rafael Leao put the team on his back. After the renewal he had a moment of bewilderment following the sacking pf Maldini.
However, the winger and his team-mates were immediately comforted by the management, with the CEO Giorgio Furlani now the man guaranteeing the solidity of the project which will simply rest on other pillars.
In terms of construction, a new Milan-only stadium is another priority for Gerry Cardinale’s ownership, followed by president Scaroni. Cardinale is ready to invest up to €1bn to equip the team with its own, modern and multifunctional facility.
The signing of the preliminary contract to start the procedural process in San Donato Milanese is the first official act after the choice of area. These are new signs of greatness, of the desire to return to the top in Italy and in Europe.
However, the Milan fans are asking to return to compete for the top positions so as not to look back with nostalgia. This morning Berlusconi’s photos scroll on the big screen outside Casa Milan. Today all club activity will be suspended, including updates on official social channels.
Then the story will continue and the summer market can help honour it. It will be two very hot months, with this summer the season of big signings and big dreams.