Former AC Milan defender Christian Panucci has reflected on the club’s season so far and also on a trip that he was part of as part of a new academy inauguration.
An AC Milan delegation – of whom Panucci was one of the members – flew to India for the inauguration of the three new AC Milan International Academy principals in the federal state of Kerala, more precisely in Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Malappuram.
The former defender – who was twice Italian champion and one-time European champion with the Rossoneri between 1993 and 1997 – spoke to MilanNews as part of the trip.
Can you tell us about this experience?
“It’s the first time I’ve visited India and I can’t wait to go back already, because I think there’s so much to discover in this country. They were three very beautiful days, we visited the venues where the activities of the AC Milan International Academy, meeting so many young people and being overwhelmed by their enthusiasm. Here the passion for football and for our Club is something incredible.”
The second part of the season starts in less than a month, and if you are thinking of attending a game in the new year you will need tickets to AC Milan.
How do you rate Milan’s season so far?
“Reading -8 on the standings can make you think otherwise, but the reality is that they simply met a Napoli that never stops. I think this first part of the season has been very positive and still gives Milan the chance to continue to be competitive in the league until the end.”
Could the break for the World Cup risk overturning the hierarchies in the second half of the season, or do you think the values that have emerged will remain the same?
“It’s the first time a World Cup has been organised in winter, so I don’t think anyone knows exactly what the consequences will be from this point of view. I can’t say if anyone will drop in the second half, maybe the teams that have loaned so many players to their respective national teams could suffer a backlash, but in any case we will certainly remember it as an anomalous season.”
What do you think of the work your former teammate Paolo Maldini is carrying out as director?
“Paolo has always been an extraordinary champion both on and off the pitch. I think he has made a very important journey and has managed, together with sporting director Massara and the whole club, to build an excellent team despite the many difficulties Italy on an economic level.
“I think Paolo has shown that he knows how to make choices and knows how to bet on the right players. This is demonstrated by the extraordinary journey he has made so far, crowned by winning the Scudetto but also by passing through to the Champions League.”
As a defender capable of covering multiple positions on the pitch, what do you think of Kalulu’s growth?
“When he arrived at Milan, not many people knew him, but he soon proved to be a versatile player, strong on the right as well as in the middle.
“Last year he played an extraordinary season in the league, certainly contributing to the Scudetto victory, then came the awareness that he had also made his mark on an individual level in a prestigious context, which allowed him to continue to grow ever more rapidly. It is not easy to understand where he can go, but right now he is a very important player for a team like Milan.”
You arrived at Milan when you were only 20: what are the difficulties of joining a big club at such a young age?
“When I arrived at Milan, that was the strongest team in the world, with the strongest players in the world. Initially it wasn’t easy for me to adapt to playing alongside champions of that level, but the help of all my team-mates, who proved to be champions even beyond the pitch, he then speeded up the insertion. I think my history with Milan was very beautiful, I really keep a fantastic memory.”