After the 5-1 in the derby, the AC Milan player did not stick to the protocol of nothing. Open up heaven. He was also forced to half-backtrack
AC Milan’s defender and captain Paolo Maldini acknwoledges the supporters at the end of his team’s Serie A football match against AS Roma in Milan’s San Siro Stadium on May 24, 2009. After 24 seasons as one of Italy’s finest defenders and AC Milan’s emblem, Paolo Maldini finally bids farewell to his adoring home fans. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP)
Poor Pioli put on trial for not wanting to apologize to the fans 14 years after Maldini.
In Italy it happens very often, if not always. Press conference of a football coach, and the question comes: “what do you promise the fans?”, “how important is the public for you?”, “is it easier to play with this extraordinary energy in the stands?” and so on from banality to banality. Obviously, if he doesn’t want to stumble into controversy, the unfortunate person in question must go on autopilot and give away those splendid stock phrases soaked in nothing blended with nothing, to which we would add the diced of hypocrisy.
Then it happens that you lose the derby 5-1, as happened to Stefano Pioli, obviously they turn you around, he goes to the press conference and you don’t hold back. And so to the classic question: “Do you feel like apologizing to the fans?” Pioli didn’t have the readiness to offer those seven sentences filled with sticky honey and his tongue ran out:
“I don’t agree with apologizing to the fans. In your opinion, did we want to concede five goals from Inter and lose the derby? We are sorry. You need to apologize when you purposely do something. We have lost five derbies and we will try to do better.”
Phrase of absolute common sense. Which should be carved into the sky. Also to try to explain that in football, as in sport, you win and lose. You don’t apologize because you lose. You shake hands with your opponent and analyze the causes of the defeat. As explained – among others – NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo:
When a journalist asked him if the season had been a failure, he replied “You asked me the same thing last year. But do you get a promotion every year? And when you don’t get it, is your year a failure? Yes or no? No. Every year you work towards a goal: whether it’s a promotion, taking care of your family, getting a house, something. We’re not talking about failure, but about taking steps towards success.” Michael Jordan played 16 seasons in the NBA, he won 6 times: were the other 9 a failure? No,” Antetokounmpo said again. “There is no such thing as failure in sport. There are good days and not so good days. In some you are able to achieve success, in others you are not. Sometimes it’s your turn, other times it’s not. This is sport: you don’t always have to win, others win too. And this year someone else will win.”
Among other things, Pioli’s response is a clear reference to a moment in Milan’s history, namely the meeting-clash at the airport in Istanbul between the AC Milan players and Paolo Maldini in the aftermath of the Champions League final which they sensationally lost against Liverpool after ending the first half with a three-goal lead.
An episode that Maldini recounted like this:
The AC Milan fan told me “Shame on you, you have to apologize”. I went in front of this fan. As captain I couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t accept that a 22-year-old boy – I had played for 20 years at Milan – would say something to me after a match like that. Only I went to ‘talk’, so to speak. I wasn’t alone, but only I went. I felt touched. I had those 7-8 seconds in which I reacted instinctively. My family was also there with me.
Scene never forgotten, so much so that on the day of the farewell the Curva contested it (even if they deny that it was a contest) and displayed the following two banners
“THANK YOU CAPTAIN: INFINITE CHAMPION ON THE FIELD
BUT YOU DISRESPECTED THOSE WHO MADE YOU RICH,”
“FOR YOUR 25 YEARS OF GLORIOUS CAREER, HEARFUL THANKS
FROM THOSE WHO YOU HAVE DEFINED AS MERCENARIES AND PEOPLE.”
To which Maldini replied with the middle finger and the phrase: «I’m proud to not be one of them.”.
A curve that made itself felt this time too. With a statement, as if it were a political party (in reality it is). A few lines, as usual written in approximate Italian.
“The value of words is directly proportional to the value of those who pronounce them. To you, dear Milan, it’s not a question of losing derbies but how you lose them! Once again in the exact same way. And someone probably has to ask two questions about how to prepare for this match!”.
Do you want to know how it ended? Someone in the club must have called poor Pioli who today did a half-backpedal, saving face in the sense that he didn’t say the word sorry but finally showed the face of a beaten dog that satisfies the fans so much.
“I feel the weight of the failures in the derbies, in this sense I have a clearly insufficient report card and you have no idea how much this situation weighs on me: if I could go to every single fan and tell them, I would. However, in relationships of love and affection, actions and attitudes count more than words. I am indebted to the fans, last year when we played really badly they always supported us. And I am also indebted because I am the coach who has lost the most derbies in a year.”
Pioli handled it with dignity. Until the next question from the journalist on duty: “What do you want to say to the fans?”.