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Grazie Gattuso



Despite the toughest of criticism toward our now former coach, Rino Gattuso left Milan with dignity and a respect that most other coaches will never receive. Like his playing career, he chose to leave Milan on his own terms, for the good of the team. And he walked away from the money, too, leaving his salary that would have been owed him behind. Because for him, it was never about money or fame. It was always about Milan. And when he had given all that he had and it still wasn’t enough, he stepped down. For Milan.

He may be gone, but his heart will still be here

I wanted to express my gratitude for him in words, but I already did. The first time he left Milan. Seven years ago, I wrote “Ciao, Gattuso,” after he walked away from the team he loved with all of his heart as a player.  All of these years later, I couldn’t have said it any better:

But it is the Rossoneri colors that he will be remembered in the most. His passion for the team knows no bounds. In fact, it was for the good of the team that he chose to step aside. And still some were shocked to see the passion come out in a very tearful farewell last week as he said goodbye to 13 years of bleeding red and black (and bruising everyone else black and blue.) It’s hard to watch a grown man cry, harder to watch someone so seemingly tough completely lose it. But I would expect nothing less from a man who, when given a few seconds with the microphone, said “Milanista fino alla morte” (“Milanista till death!”)

Passion unparalleled 

Gratefully, he has sworn that it is only goodbye for now, and that he would return one year, but not as a player. Rumors are that while he was out with his eye problem, he began his coaching classes at Coverciano, and this week, he began a special coaching course only offered to the 2006 World Cup winners (alongside fellow Milan legend Pippo Inzaghi.) And while he is looking to play one more year somewhere to end his career on the pitch instead of sidelined, I have no doubts that he will make good on his promise.

If we thought that his passion and desire were effective with his teammates on the pitch, I cannot wait to see what he can do as a manager someday. Sure, he will have to work his way up, and likely work for other teams along the way. But I would love to see him managing Milan one day. From perhaps one of the most feared, yet mostly gentleman-like midfielders to a formidable and passionate manager… The world is your oyster, Rino. Go do what your Calabrian fisherman roots tell you to. Grazie.

He gave everything to the club, to his players

He has always been a man of his word, and he did return, first to the Primavera team, then to rescue us from Montella. He was the same as a manager as he was as a player: fearless, less-skilled, but with more heart and determination than a whole team combined. He surprised us all with results that were better than the team was expected to achieve. Indeed, he gave us our highest points total since the season after he left. He gave us everything he had, never once thinking of himself. Having had the honor of meeting him last summer here in Los Angeles, I can personally vouch that he is every bit the warrior and champion as well as a man with a giant heart that is completely rossoneri.

I have no doubt that his honest and refreshing press conferences will be sorely missed. The players might even miss the slaps to the back of their heads. But it will be difficult to find a more passionate Milanista to coach Milan. And whatever we thought about his coaching, whatever pain we feel from missing Champions League qualification or whatever… no one can ever replace the heart and passion of Mister Gattuso. Grazie, Gattuso.


This post inspired by the music of Andrea Bocelli’s “Con Te Partiro”