Dubai 2022 – He has won everything, beginning his career with Parma at the age of 18, and soon after being sold to Roma for a billion lire, he was first and foremost such a wonderful interpreter of the game, an extraordinary talent destined for the most important benches in Europe. They called him “bimbo” (baby) but he was a force of nature, and this strength cost him two cruciates and a world title (not playing with the Azzurri in 1982). He also missed out on taking part in the first Champions League final that came up in his career, a Rome – Liverpool match reminiscent of the recent Liverpool – Real Madrid game.
Carlo Ancelotti does not regret this, and he explains:
“I have no regrets, it would be crazy and ungenerous to feel like that after I’ve had so many significant results over time. I hope this serves to give others a push. Zaniolo, for example, is young and has had the same experience as me: I hope he can look ahead with confidence, because the best is yet to come”.
He made up for lost time, winning six Champions Leagues (two as player and four as coach for Milan and Real), but other than the 38 titles of his career (14 playing and 24 making others play) Ancelotti commands the absolute record in national championships as the only winner of all 5 major leagues in European football rankings (Italy, England, France, Germany and Spain).
Ancelotti played for Liedholm, Sacchi, Capello and has not forgotten it:
“You carry your experience with you and you study what you have lived through, trying to absorb the teaching. Liedholm was fantastic for his ability to support youngsters, Sacchi brought organisation and work into football. Capello had a superior talent at reading games, he knew how to adapt the team line-up based on the opponent’s game, but he always maintained the team’s identity. Fabio’s masterpiece remains the 4 – 0 match with Barcelona in 1994, playing without the two central defense players, a real triumph.”
All this knowledge produced an excellent result because as a coach Ancelotti has made wise and logical choices, encouraging every team to make the most of themselves, according to simple rules, managed with a grace and a firmness that come from the conviction that he has synthesised his personal experiences in the best way possible.
“The game of football is simple if you respect the basics. You have to know how to study your opponent, to know his way of playing. This is fundamental, and it serves to prepare the team, but you mustn’t go beyond this, never compromise your game and your team’s identity. The secret is to not overly coach talents and to free up the players during the attacking phase. This always works. I am not in favour of too much intensity, this limits the actions of one individual, even if I understand that whoever uses that approach is trying to to put limits on the others.”
As the “4 Champions Coach”, and also the reigning champion, Ancelotti, who also established a record winning in the top 5 UEFA championships, is maybe the only one who can possibly have a unique perspective on what this entails and the problems involved in these 5 championships.
“The most tactical football is played in Italy and the technical school is top level, maybe thanks to Coverciano and the preparations the new coaches devise from studying techniques. I remember my work to become a coach at the Technical Centre, I don’t know if the topics of study have been updated by now, considering the influence of scientific and medical advances on training and performance. Of course over time this may have caused mistakes, and turning out coaches in such quantity has ended up influencing the talent of young people in the training phase. I think that talented players have to be able to express their talent freely, at least when they start out as youngsters. Many academies and local organisations don’t give our children and grandchildren the chance to think about the game instinctively, and you pay for this in the end, it isn’t worth it.”
Italy has a problem, and what about England?
“Italy’s main problem in not going to the World Cup is the foreign football players who rain down on our country en masse, and this has also to do with subsidised taxation. In England the situation is different, as a result of globalisation and the strong attraction guaranteed by the Premier League. Where there is money the best players arrive and English football is well paid and takes the best, who are taking the place of domestic players. This is inevitable. And we also play too much, we should all sit down together to change the international calendar, without egoism.”
Spain, France and Germany?
“Spain has history, tradition and great teams. We look at Real, where difficulties are reduced to the minimum and they try to create the best environment possible in every sense. When we were forced to play without the public and at our training centre, heavy defeats occurred (FC Sheriff…), because the audience and the atmosphere really matter. We have moved on from Galacticos to new talents, and the renewal that followed the construction of the new Bernabeu will take this team far, loved as it is all over the world. Germany and France are in a more normal situation, where football attains its highest expression, with quality facilities that are also the result of the recent organisation of big events.”
Florentino Perez and Josè Angel Sanchez, like Berlusconi and Galliani, you have always had the privilege of working with the best. Real is reprising the role that Milan had in the past, winning at the international level. And of course many of their victories are also his.
“Real has always been Real, but there is a common denominator in the comparison. These are people who are dedicated above all to the pursuit of sporting results, looking out for the best interests of their clubs. Today investment funds and other interests have come into football, companies look to profits and the work is changing. A particular culture exists in Madrid and this is demonstrated by the stadium and the prospects that will soon become reality.”
A reality that Carlo Ancelotti knows, problems like the Superleague and globalisation, first ambition of a club that knows it has fans in every corner of the planet and that sooner or later hopes to be able to reach them in real time. This would seem to be a stimulating prospect for our all-time record holder.
You are going to try to improve on your achievements. In February the Intercontinental or World Cup for any club, then Championship, Cup and Champions League. Where do you want to get to?
“It depends … I decided to quit football on 30 June, I just don’t know what year we’re talking about yet …”