As Rino Gattuso takes the Napoli reins from sacked Carlo Ancelotti, it’s worth looking back over their history together. "I think you’re the right person in the right place."
Gattuso joined Milan in the summer of 1999 from Salernitana and had already cemented himself in the heart of the Milan midfield by the time Ancelotti replaced Fatih Terim in November 2001.
Together the pair won two UEFA Champions League trophies, one Scudetto, two European Super Cups, one Coppa Italia and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007.
Ancelotti would leave the Rossoneri before Gattuso, resigning in May 2009 to take charge of Chelsea, whilst the player would win another Scudetto under the tutelage of Max Allegri, before leaving at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Gattuso then retired following a single season playing for FC Sion in Switzerland.
Rino found himself sitting in the same dugout that Ancelotti had spent the better part of eight years overseeing in 2017, when he replaced Vincenzo Montella as coach.
Ancelotti would pen a touching letter to his former player in an edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport in January 2018 to mark Gattuso’s 40th birthday.
“Now I look at you on the Milan bench and you act crazy; you scream, you shout, you incite your players. I think you’re the right person in the right place," wrote Ancelotti.
“There’s a need for passion, your character, your spirit of sacrifice to overcome obstacles. There’s also a need for your joy to defuse certain tensions, and some of your solemn rage to wake up someone who is sleeping.
“In a team, in a group, there’s always someone who sleeps…
“On the pitch you were my warrior. I never once saw you give up, never once saw you leave the pitch with a clean shirt, never once saw you refusing to battle.
“That’s what I always admired about you, the ability to reach your objectives despite the fact nature didn’t bless you with great technical gifts. Because - can I say this? - your feet are not exactly the most educated!
“But the grit that you gave us no-one else had, and you had something unusual - you knew how to pass it to others.
“How many times did I see you talking to a teammate, to help him, to encourage him, to support him in difficult times?
“That’s football. Beyond schemes, formations, diagonals, pressing and counter-attacks there are people. And it’s people who make the difference.”
Gattuso would leave Milan at the end of the 2018-19 season, which, coincidentally, marked the 10th anniversary of his old mentor Ancelotti’s departure from the same club.
As Gattuso now prepares to replace his one-time coach, can the student out-perform the old master?
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