Interview: Return to Champions League final is AC Milan’s goal states Berlusconi

February 20 will mark 30 years at the helm of the Rossoneri for the 79-year-old, and he is still keen to bring further success to the side. Interview by Alberto Cerrutti of La Gazzetta dello Sport

Salvini e Berlusconi - Foto di Repertorio

With AC Milan climbing up the standings, President Silvio Berlusconi admits that he is keen to see the side make the Champions League final twice over the next five years.

Saturday will mark 30 years at the helm of the Rossoneri for the 79-year-old, a run that has coincided with incredible success in Italy and Europe.

In fact, Milan have reached the Champions League final eight times under Berlusconi, winning five times, which is why he is keen to see that number increase to 10 over the next few years.

What rating would you give to your 30 years at Milan?

“Our goal was to make it a 10, but given how things have gone I would say more than 10. The past 30 years have been magical. We’ve won more than everyone. We now have 363 million fans over the world. And most of all our love for Milan has filled our heart with joy.”

What was the best day over the past 30 years?

“There have been many. The 4-0 victory in Barcelona over Steaua Bucharest for the first European Cup win was unforgettable. I’ll never forget seeing the Camp Nou filled with Rossoneri flags. Every Milan supporter, not just the team, won that cup. However the two finals in Athens are also unforgettable, for different reasons.”

Is there one you would like to forget?

“The comeback by Liverpool in Istanbul, as we incredibly lost the Champions League final after leading 3-0 after the first half. We already forgot about it thanks to the two goals by Pippi [Inzaghi] in the final against Liverpool two years later. The Champions League final from 1993 still leaves a bitter taste. We arrived having won every match in that competition, 10 for 10. We lost 1-0 against Marseille.”

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If you could go back would you change anything?

“I wouldn’t change what I want from the team, which is to always dominate when on the field, and to win while playing good football.”

What was the most important decision that you made.

“Becoming responsible for Milan and giving it the mandate of becoming the most successful team in the world. A goal that seemed impossible according to everyone.”

Who gave the orders to have the team leave the pitch against Marseille?

“It wasn’t premeditated. Adriano Galliani explained to me what happened. I remember that we accepted the heavy sanctions from UEFA. Newspapers wrote that Milan’s winning run was over, but it was just the beginning.”

Which coach are you most fond of?

“Arrigo Sacchi reminds me of the great opening years. However I have a great friendship with Carlo Ancelotti and Fabio Capello.”

CALCIO: MILAN

Which star would you like to see on the field again?

“I would like to see all of our stars. From Marco van Basten, who left football too soon, to Franco Baresi, our captain. Then there is Dejan Savicevic, Ronaldinho, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Mauro Tassotti, Roberto Donadoni, Daniele Massaro, George Weah, Ruud Gullit, Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka… I can’t name them all. However I am fond of all of them and I was like an older brother for many of them. I would like to add that Milan are the only club to have three players on the podium for the Ballon d’Or [In 1988 and 1989.”

You always want Milan to be fighting for the Scudetto and the Champions League. What is it like to see the club not fighting for those goals?

“Maybe we aren’t as far away from that as people thought. I was busy with several things off the field, but now I’m focused on what is happening on the pitch. We aren’t just working on the present, as we are trying to build a team that can win in the future. I am sure we will accomplish that. Over the years we have made eight Champions League finals. The goal is to reach 10 within the next five year.”

Gianluigi Donnarumma is the most promising youngster Milan currently have. Are you worried that foreign teams will sign him?

“Donnarumma is just one of several youngsters we have and I hope he will remain with us for 20 years.”

Your daughter Barbara recently said that the goal is to make the Europe League. On the other hand, Galliani said it is the Champions League. Is that confirmation that they see things differently?

“It shows that they both care for the club. Despite her age, Barbara reasons like a manager while Adriano is more or a fan. They are both right. It’s clear the Europe League is more within our reach. Over my career I’ve always set myself goals that might be out of reach, but I’ve always achieved them.”

CALCIO SHOW,TROFEI,POTERE:30 ANNI DI MILAN TARGATI BERLUSCONI / SPECIALE

If Milan don’t qualify for Europe, would winning the Coppa Italia be enough?

“It wouldn’t be enough, but it would be important. Winning is always nice, and a Coppa Italia triumph would guarantee a place in Europe.”

Is it true that before signing Mihajlovic you turned down the chance to sign Maurizio Sarri?

“When you pick someone it means that the other candidates are overlooked. Even ones that you have respect for like Sarri.”

Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi and now Mihajlovic: three coaches in three seasons. Isn’t that too much?

“I would prefer three Champions League finals in three seasons.”

Thirty years ago you said that football is great because more than money is needed to win. That’s a phrase that describes Milan currently.

“I agree with that, however we’ve shown that we can build a strong team while investing money. I’ve invested more than €1.2 billion on Milan over the past 30 years.”

What goes through your mind thinking that 30 years ago you bought Milan and they were third, and they now sit in sixth?

“We can’t always in. I bought Milan during one of their worst periods. In the five years prior they participated in Serie B twice, and the other three they finished in 14th, sixth and fifth. The fact that Milan are in sixth today garners attention. It’s weird for fans given that we’ve finished in the top three 20 times over the past 30 years.”

FRANCO BARESI

If a deal for Mr Bee isn’t concluded by the end of the season will you look to negotiate with others?

“My goal is to help Milan. Investors with limitless resources have entered the world of football so it is difficult to remain competitive. That is why we believe fresh resources are needed.”

Is it true that your daughter Marina wants you to sell the club entirely?

“That is not true. She always tells me to follow my heart and my heart continues to beat for Milan.”

Barbare was heavily involved in talks for a new stadium. What will happen with the San Siro?

“San Siro is part of our glorious history. The attachment Milan fans have for it is profound. Owning a stadium appears to be key, so Barbara has the right idea. However unforeseen issues arose. We will continue to play at San Siro, but we won’t give up on looking at alternatives.”

The fans are upset with Galliani for bringing back players like Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng, after renewing Philippe Mexes’ and Nigel de Jong’s contract. Were those errors?

“Why were they errors? Boateng came back and has shown a lot of desire, and he has done well so far. Balotelli has some injury woes. If he can avoid the mistakes he made in the past then he can help us.”

CALCIO SHOW,TROFEI,POTERE:30 ANNI DI MILAN TARGATI BERLUSCONI / SPECIALE

What gift would you like for your 30 years?

“I would like to eat with the team at Milanello on Saturday. I will use that opportunity to speak with Mihajlovic and ask him to win the remaining matches this season.”

How long will you continue to be Milan president?

“Let’s see how the next 30 years go.”

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