Stefano Pioli paid tribute to Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his contribution to AC Milan and also praised Charles De Ketelaere for his cameo against Hellas Verona.
Milan ended their season with three goals and three points as they beat Hellas Verona 3-1 at San Siro, thanks to a penalty from Olivier Giroud and a brace from Rafael Leao inside the final five minutes following Faraoni’s equaliser.
However, the evening belonged to Ibrahimovic as he got a farewell in front of over 70,000 fans at San Siro. He walked out to a guard of honour and was presented with a shirt by the management, before confirming his retirement after some tears were shed.
Pioli spoke to Milan TV after the game to try and dissect a difficult but entertaining match on an emotional evening given the backdrop of Zlatan’s farewell, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.
On the importance of Ibra: “He helped a lot on and off the pitch. He has been a point of reference for me, he has an incredible mentality, he is a winner from Monday to Sunday and he has helped to make a young group like ours understand many things.
“He has not only contributed off the field but also on it. He has not only shown that he is a great champion but also a person I have often compared with, a personality suited to a certain type of environment.”
On Milan’s path in recent years: “The path is important, you always have to remember where you started from. We have raised the bar now, we have to think big and think of being competitive in both competitions, knowing that few succeed.
“The merits belong to everyone, first of all to the club: without solidity, planning and support, you won’t go anywhere. Now the group is no longer young, it has shown that it knows how to take certain responsibilities.
“Few groups could have overcome the difficult time we had in January-February. But our whole group, not just the team but the whole environment, is united. I don’t think a path ends, you have to continue it to grow and try to win something.”
On De Ketelaere’s promising cameo: “He is a very intelligent and helpful player, he understood where he was lacking and where he could give more. It’s right that we expect a lot, when you play for Milan it’s right that there are expectations.”