Ignazio Abate thanked “natural optimist” Vincenzo Montella for revitalising Milan, trusts Gianluigi Donnarumma and reveals why he lifted the Supercoppa in partnership.
The full-back was the guest on Milan TV this evening and even made a pizza on air as he discussed winning the Italian Super Cup against Juventus.
“It was doubly satisfying because we were not the favourites and faced a Juve side that has dominated Italian football for several years,” said Abate.
He lifted the trophy alongside injured captain Riccardo Montolivo and handed over the armband in a touching gesture.
“I had the idea when I was walking up to receive my medal. I thought of all he has gone through and to see him there in his civvies it just seemed right.
“After so many years in which things went badly at Milan and the fans took it out on the more experienced players, it was right that we celebrate. We have to remember where we’ve come from, the protests and jeers, as it pushes us forward for the future.”
Milan have been transformed under new Coach Montella and Abate notes it is partly thanks to his personality.
“Montella is a natural optimist and he has the great quality of transmitting that to everyone. He also has marvellous balance, both in positive and negative moments. He’s very clear-headed in his analysis and that’s important to help the team grow.
“This season we have forged a group with young Italian players who have Milan colours in their blood. I have been impressed by the humility of these lads.
“For example, I don’t think anyone expected Suso to perform at this level. We have to give credit to the lad who impressed at Genoa and returned to Milanello a more mature presence.”
Donnarumma came up through the Milan youth academy, but is already the subject of massive offers from abroad.
“Gigio has quite rightly become a hero to the fans, as he always expressed his love for this club. In my view, and I think in his too, he cannot see himself wearing a different club shirt in Italy. I’m relaxed when it comes to Gigio, as I think he’ll be with us for many years.
“I am happy and thank Montella, but I also do not forget Sinisa Mihajlovic’s contribution. I take this opportunity to thank him publicly, because if we were even in the Supercoppa final with Juventus, it was thanks also to him.
“Our objective realistically is to qualify for Europe. I don’t want to let the fans down, as perhaps they expected something more, but I think the events of January and February will tell us where we stand.”