Friday August 7 2020
Boban: 'I'd do it all again for Milan'

Zvonimir Boban assures he’d ‘do it all again’ after his sacking, is genuinely ‘happy’ Milan backed Stefano Pioli and urges ‘force of nature’ Zlatan Ibrahimovic to stay.

Former director Boban was fired five months ago following an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport in which he openly accused CEO Ivan Gazidis of engaging in talks with Ralf Rangnick without informing him or fellow director Paolo Maldini.

The club dismissed him, threatened legal action, yet eventually Boban was proved right, as negotiations with Rangnick were suddenly abandoned in late July and Pioli was signed to a new contract.

“Stefano is a wonderful person and a fine coach. We spoke after he signed the contract and I was really happy for him,” Boban told the Gazzetta in today’s edition.

“Obviously, I am satisfied, because he’s done a great job. At the end of the day, Pioli was our choice during a moment of real difficulty and it’s good to see how much the team has progressed with him.”

With Rangnick no longer coming, it also looks as if Maldini will be keeping his role at San Siro.

“He ought to stay for a thousand reasons, but above all because he has shown himself to be a very good director. We didn’t have much time to enjoy working together, but c’est la vie.

“I have really enjoyed myself watching Milan, as their games have been super. As a fan, I dream of seeing Milan back in their natural habitat, which is among the winners. In order to get there, they have to invest well, but the foundations are in place. I think they are 30-40 per cent off becoming a top team in Italy and Europe.”

Considering everything he said proved to be true and his choices were eventually backed by Milan owners Elliott, does Boban regret the outburst?

“Absolutely not, I’d do it all again. I wouldn’t have been able to recognise myself in the mirror if I didn’t. Personally, I am happy that many of the decisions we made that were contested and at the time not entirely understood have proved to be correct.

“Now everyone can see that our choices, which were made amid a thousand difficulties, were not in vain and we do have the foundations for a real Milan squad.

“Not many people have the patience to wait or understand that football takes time. I hope those who are still working at Milan can complete the job and respect the greatness of our club’s history.”

Among the decisions made by Boban and Maldini there was also the return of Ibrahimovic, who now looks set to sign a contract extension, having been ready to walk away if Rangnick had been hired.

“After last summer, I said we needed at least two experienced players,” explained Boban. “With Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer, as well as the explosion of Ante Rebic, Milan became far more mature and self-confident. Consequently, almost all the other players were also transformed for the better.

“I had already asked in February to extend Ibra’s contract. We had a gentleman’s agreement with him: the promise was that if he wasn’t in shape, he would choose to retire. I was sure there’d be no problems, as Zlatan is fully aware of what his body can do. Let’s just say that at that time, we could not do the contract extension…

“Ibrahimovic is a genius, a force of nature, and he still makes the difference. It’s fundamental that he remains at Milan for at least another year.

“The whole team improved with him around. Just look at Rafael Leao, an extraordinary talent, but someone who needed a guide, and you can’t get better than Zlatan. This is why we should always thank and respect Zlatan.”

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