Sunday March 28 2021
Honda: 'Milan didn't give 100 per cent'

Keisuke Honda spills the beans on his time at Milan, including the lack of strategy, players like Mario Balotelli and Alessio Romagnoli ‘not giving 100 per cent.’

The Japan international wore the Rossoneri jersey from 2014-17 and is still playing in Azerbaijan.

“I didn’t hesitate for a second when the call came from Milan. A few years earlier I had also been close to Lazio, but CSKA Moscow turned down the offer,” Honda told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I still today thank Adriano Galliani for allowing my dream to come true, but there were also many problems. In another context, I must admit, I might never have played for Milan. The fact they were struggling helped me.

“The club didn’t have the money to buy top players, so many ‘normal’ players got the opportunity to wear this jersey. Milan didn’t have a strategy either, as every three months it felt like a new coach was arriving. It was impossible to get results that way.

“Pippo Inzaghi was on the bench and it was too early for him to take that role. There were some good players, like Ignazio Abate and Giacomo Bonaventura.

“We’d often talk about the need to put more effort in, but some just didn’t get it, so Inzaghi as the coach had to take the responsibility.”

When talking about players not putting the effort in, Honda inevitably pointed to Balotelli.

“Mario has enormous talent, and yet has never done anything to improve himself. I wanted to change his daily routine, telling him to trust me, that if he wanted to become the best, he had to train hard.

“He looked at me and the next day, he turned up 40 minutes early to train in the gym. And the day after that. By the third day, he’d got bored. That’s Mario for you.

“He wasn’t the only one. Romagnoli didn’t train at 100 per cent back then either. He should believe in himself more and have a different philosophy.”

The Rossoneri now have a leader like Zlatan Ibrahimovic to constantly push them to give more.

“I’ve never met Ibrahimovic, but I’d love to. I think he’s a football giant and I’d like to know more about his character,” added Honda.

“I hope he wins the Scudetto with Milan, as I still follow the Rossoneri.”