â€ I was circling while listening to TV in the background. Then La7 interrupted the broadcast to inform them of the death of Silvio Berlusconi ». Arego sake The Milan coach who revolutionized the world of football in the late 1980s cannot hold back tears as he relives the stages of a professional and human relationship that lasted 37 years. Â «I owe him a lot, I have always been grateful to him since then, as soon as they hired me at Milan, I answered them ‘You are either geniuses or crazy’ Â».
Arrigo, what is the main quality you recognize in a boss?
Â “He had courage and no one can say it better than me since he took me to Milan when I was coaching Parma. He had a vision, he recognized and identified qualities in me that I didn’t think I had.
The day it all began?
Â «A friendly match in August 1986, at the end of the first half which ended 0-0, the Parma president told me that Cavalier wanted to meet me. I met him and Silvio, who admired the game my team played, and he promised me that he would follow my path.”
Did you cross paths soon after?
Â «Yes, it happened that our clubs faced each other in the Italian Cup, at that time there were the groups. Milan had just completed a signing campaign that summer with five high-profile names, Donadoni, Massaro, Giovanni Galli, Bonetti and Galderisi. We beat the Rossoneri 1-0 and Berlusconi confirmed his intention to mark me.
Then what happened?
Â «As a result of fate, we drew again with Milan in the round of 16 of the Italian Cup and won again 1-0. It was February 1987 and Bortolazzi scored the decisive goal. Then Ettore Rognoni, head of sports services at Mediaset and a great friend of mine, told me that Berlusconi was inviting me to dinner at Arcore. I went and found him, Galliani and of course Rognoni who accompanied me. We talked about everything, and it seemed like we had known each other for life.”
How was the job offer formulated?
Â «The following Friday I was supposed to meet a Serie A club, Fiorentina, and I had no intention of canceling the appointment. I didn’t really think about it, I went to do a double training with Parma, but when I got home my wife told me that Ettore had called several times. So the day before the meeting with the Fiorentina administration, thanks to the mediation of Rognoni – characteristic of the union between the two parties – I went to dinner in Milan where Berlusconi was not there because he was busy putting Caro and Bodo under contract for TV. However, the elite Fininvest executives were waiting for me. Galliani, Confalonieri, Dell’Utri. I signed and said “put the amount you want”. That the veteran Adriano wrote a lower number than what I received in Parma ».
What will you miss about Silvio?
He was an innovator, in every field, even in politics. In football, in the decade between the 1990s, Italian teams dominated Europe: Baraka stormed off with the force of an avalanche. It allowed football to acquire an international dimension that had not been achieved before.
One piece of advice the president didn’t follow?
– I told him to take a sari. She suggested “If he puts him on the bench, he proves once again that he is ten years ahead of the others”. But he did not listen to me ».
Tell the truth, have you ever stepped in?
– Never with me. At the beginning of the adventure, after the defeat against Espanyol, he asked me if I needed help. Faced with my difficulties, he came to Milanello and called the team to his office and 25 seconds was enough. It was unusual. “I have complete confidence in Arrigo. Whoever follows him will stay, and whoever is not with him will go. We won the championship.”
last time you saw him?
Â «He had invited me this winter to Arcore but in December Covid caught up. I told him I would go in the spring but there was no time. Do you know he wants to take me with him to Monza? “.
How did it go?
It snowed on me: “Come, do what you want, I will give you a beautiful villa with a butler.”
Was he as generous as many who worked with him?
“As I told you, my starting salary at Milan was not particularly high. I negotiated double the salary if successful. After a 4-0 win over Steaua in Bucharest, Silvio Lee admitted “I’ve never had my money better spent”. I will be grateful to him for life. What a bad day today. Arrigo weeps for his friend and the good life that had been.
Silvio Berlusconi, September 29, 1936 – Milan, June 12, 2023
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