Legendary Coach Arrigo Sacchi claims he would never have been successful at Milan without birthday boy Silvio Berlusconi, who “changed my life”.
Sacchi won a Serie A title and back-to-back European cups with Milan in his first spell between 1987 and 1991, and in tribute to Berlusconi on his 80th birthday, Sacchi revisited the first time he spoke to the President and how they forged one of football’s most fearsome partnerships.
“After a friendly match: for a minute, no more, he told me: ‘I’m following you’,” the former Italy boss told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The first time he called me, I thought he wanted to talk about [his players] Mussi, Bianchi, Bortolazzi or some of our youngsters.
“I said, ‘either you’re a genius or crazy. Give me the contract and I’ll sign it blank. I’ll do a year and then quit.’
“I was given a salary less than at Parma and jokingly I’ll always remember Galliani, but Berlusconi changed my life.
“He’s always been a gentleman as well as a phenomenon: he was 10 years ahead of his time.
“He left an indelible mark, started the renaissance of Italian football in his own way: back then at Milan, there was a style, consisting of intelligence and desire. There was a dream. The President never gave up or slept.
“[Arguing] never happened. Or rather, he always listened to me and never criticised me, even on the day that I left Van Basten on the bench.
“The most difficult negotiations were for Carlo Ancelotti. The Milan doctor said 20 percent of his knee wasn’t in use, but I asked Berlusconi to sign him anyway because with him we would win the Scudetto. Eventually he listened to me.
“His dream was very ambitious but came true: to win by having fun and playing well, the lesson that beauty isn’t in conflict with victory.
“Berlusconi has never perceived success to be without merit. Some say that the most important thing is just winning. For him, it’s never been so.”
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