Silvio Berlusconi attende his final home game as club president as AC Milan beat Fiorentina 2-1 at the San Siro on February 20.
Mr Berlusconi was in the stands as his coach paid a him a tribute, saying that the win was a small gift from the team to the outgoing owner.
Montella was pleased to see his side show immense guts and courage as he said, “I don’t know if it’s the last game, but on behalf of the squad I dedicate this victory to president Berlusconi and the director,” he said. “We are happy to have given them this small gift.”
“I can only say that the world of football owes a great deal to Berlusconi. His Milan was the most successful Italian club and known all over the world.”
“I don’t know what will happen, but I do know we must thank the president, his ideas and his history.”
Berlusconi bought Milan on February 20, 1986 and turned the then fallen giants into one of Europe’s most feared team.
Just months after taking-over the Rossoneri, the politician did what no one thought was a wise move, he appointed Arrigo Sacchi as the new head-coach.
Arrigo Sacchi was a rather unknown name in football, having never had played professional football, and his only coaching experience was spells with Rimini and Parma in Serie C1 and B.
However, Sacchi responded to criticism in the most Berlusconi way as he said, “I never realized that to be a jockey you had to be a horse first.”
In Sacchi’s first year, Milan won the Scudetto after nine years, losing just twice as he implemented progressive approach – with high defensive lines, pressing and zonal marking.
He then guided Milan to their first European title in over two decades as the Rossoneri dismantled Real Madrid with a 5-0 win at the San Siro in the semi’s before a 4-0 thrashing of Steaua Bucharest to secure the trophy.
The trophy returned to Milan the following year as they defended their crown.
However, Sacchi soon left to manage the Italian national team as he was replaced by Fabio Capello.
Once again, Berlusconi faced the ire as Capello’s appointment was seen with as sceptical in nature – however, it was short-lived as the Italian led Milan to an invincible Scudetto win in the 1991/92 season.
Milan went on a phenomenal 58 match unbeaten run – earning the nickname ‘Gli Invincibili’.
Capello’s Milan won three successive Serie A titles – but the finest was saved for the 1994 Champions League final as the Diavolo demolished Johan Cryuff’s Barcelona 4-0 in what has been described as the finest performance in the history of European football.
#TalDiaComoHoy Milan destruía al Barcelona 4-0 final de UCL. Massaro x2, Savicevic, Desailly. 5ta orejona.
— World AC Milan. (@WorldACMilan) May 18, 2016
Things started to fall apart after the 1996 Scudetto win, as Capello left for Real Madrid – and most of the iconic Milan squad was either ageing or had left.
1996-98 were the lowest in the Silvio Berlusconi era at Milan back then – as Milan finished 11th and 10th respectively.
Even re-hiring Sacchi and Capello didn’t work, as every major signing failed to make any impact.
It was after Carlo Ancelloti’s appointment that Milan returned to the top.
However, things had been going downwards since the 2011 Scudetto win – up un-till the appointment of Vincenzo Montella.
He was asked about how he felt on his reign as the Diavolo chief to which he replied,
“If I were giving myself a mark out of ten, I’d give myself an 11 for how it’s gone.”
“They have been 30 magical years. We have won more than anyone.”
“We have won 363 million fans worldwide.”
“And, above all, our love for Milan has been repaid and it has filled out
hearts with joy.”
It has been widely reported that Berlusconi wanted to buy Inter in the early 1980’s and was rumoured to be Nerazzurri fan.
Silvio has however, denied these claims as he said: “I have never been an Inter fan, you can’t change your religion.”
Nothing can be said with certainty about how and why Milan fell from the grace after 2011, it is not like that Silvio Berlusconi does not has the funds to make big name signings – but the reason why he has tightened his grip are unknown.
While some reports suggested that he was advised by close confides to not go on a spending spree (due to corruption charges and political reasons) – as was suggested by Finance expert Andrea Bricchi, who covers economics for the website ‘PianetaMilan’ (Milan Planet), “Berlusconi is still Italy’s richest man. He could still spend €300 million a year on transfers, but his political advisers forbid it. In this era of austerity it would look frivolous and wasteful.”
“His aides advise him to splash out during electoral campaigns. Milan bought Ibrahimovic, Robinho and Mario Balotelli before recent elections. But they won’t let Berlusconi sell the team or spend heavily too often. Both would lose public favour and votes,” adds Bricchi.
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However, with the manner in which the take-over has been delayed, it is not sure if the Chinese investors will be able to pull-off the coup.
No matter what the end result is, no one can argue that Silvio Berlusconi helped script one of the most famous and successful reigns in the history of the beautiful game.