Merci Infiniment, Olivier Giroud

Today marks the end of contract for several of our players. One in particular, however came in and broke the infamous number nine curse, which had stood for ten years, since Pippo Inzaghi retired. That person, of course, is the larger than life, yet always professional Olivier Giroud. After years of not having a proper target man up front, he came in and seamlessly became the goalscorer who helped us reach our first Scudetto in eleven years and excel in the Champions League. But he also helped defensively, did a lot off the ball, was a consummate professional and leader on and off the pitch, and even played in goal in a pinch. Words are not enough, but we can try to express our gratitude... Merci infiniment, Oli.

Saying goodbye to our curse-breaking number 9.

Giroud came to us three years ago, after some longer-than-was-probably-necessary-negotiations with Chelsea in which he should have been a free transfer but we ended up giving them €1 million plus another €1 million in bonuses for his transfer. Still, it was one of the amazing deals Maldini and Massara were able to pull off, despite the rancor and gaslighting that occurred about their transfer successes once they left. In fact, that whole summer, they actually signed 11 players for about €75 million. Very good players, too, and a balanced squad, and Giroud was definitely one of them.

One of the most important signings of 2021.

He stepped right into the squad after the Euro tournament with France, and immediately began scoring goals, even in our summer friendlies. There was concern from some fans that Milan had signed another injury-prone, aging striker who would need to retire sooner rather than later. But Giroud was a few years younger, World Class, and like a fine wine, he just got better with age. He played in nearly every match for club and country for his entire three years at Milan.

Oli came to play.

In fact, with Giroud played such a prominent role at Milan, he solidified his starting spot in the French national team as well. It was no surprise that Deschamps renewed his trust in Giroud, and that at the 2022 World Cup, Giroud broke Thierry Henry's record and became France's all-time leading goalscorer.

While at Milan, Giroud was crowned France's all-time leading goalscorer.

Oli, as he was affectionately known by teammates and fans alike, scored 49 goals for Milan in all competitions, along with 20 assists during his three years at the club. He scored singles, braces, and hat tricks. And he especially had a penchant for scoring goals in big games. But his most famous goals with the fans will probably be his Derby brace in February of 2022, when he won us all three points on the way to our Scudetto. Well, he also scored a brace when we actually won the Scudetto on the final day of the season. He was clutch for Milan.

Big Oli, scoring in the big matches.

There were acrobatic masterpieces, and there were even some that were goal-winning acrobatic masterpieces where he got so excited, he took off his shirt to celebrate, and, being already on a yellow card, was sent off. It was impossible to be mad in a moment like that, because he was just so excited, it was contagious. But his goal tally is not the only thing that will be remembered, because looking at even just one year of his goals, you can see that he was not just another striker. 

He didn't score just any goals, he scored unforgettable goals.

Something that makes Oli unique was that off the pitch, he is a devout husband and father, deeply and openly religious, involved in some amazing charity work, and lives a relatively quiet lifestyle. On the pitch, he gives everything in every match, but when it is time to celebrate, he loves to celebrate with the fans. Whether it is his trademark tongue out celebration, the heart hands or kiss celebration, any variation of running, jumping, and fist-pumping, or even the occasional chest bump with another player, he scores big goals and celebrates big, too. And, of course, who could forget his dancing with flares at Casa Milan after we won the Scudetto? He has won so much, he showed all the other players how to celebrate, and he did it all with the wisdom and passion of a champion.

The always epic Giroud celebrations.

He had a great rapport with France teammate, Theo Hernández, and openly enjoyed when the latter went to the curly hairstyle, for example. When Pulisic came in this year, they already had a great relationship and chemistry from their days at Chelsea, which made it easy for them to understand one another quickly and create some great plays together. Both players had been left on the bench at Chelsea, but were given a chance to show how invaluable they could be at Milan, especially having the experience in playing and winning the Champions League.

He brought a winning mentality and MOTM performances.

When Giroud came to Milan, he had already won nearly everything there is to win: 4 FA Cups, 3 Community Shields, Ligue 1, the Europa League, the Champions League, and the World Cup, not to mention a Puskas Award for best goal of the year. While we were only able to see him lift the Scudetto while at Milan (unless you count the prestigious Telekom Cup and Trofeo Silvio Berlusconi awards,) he wrote himself into the history of Milan in more ways than one. For example, he achieved legendary status for his performance in goal vs. Genoa after Maignan was shockingly sent off.

Hero at both ends of the pitch.

Some fans questioned his abilities this past year or more, but I had the privilege of watching him play in a friendly last summer, and I was impressed with his workrate, and yes, even his speed. People may have forgotten how many times he came back and helped the defense, blocking many goals himself, despite being our target man up front. I think that unfortunately, his contributions will not truly be appreciated until he is actually gone. 

He always left everything he had on the pitch.

Which brings me to the sad part. At the end of the season, Giroud confirmed that he would be leaving Milan at the end of his contract and signing for LAFC here in Los Angeles. He has an opportunity to coach after his playing career, and new opportunities for his family. His farewell interview came unexpectedly early and started the tears flowing sooner than expected. But that was nothing compared to his last day at Milanello or his last match vs. Salernitana. Watching him play and score for the last time in the Milan jersey, with that special tea celebration with Theo and Calabria. Watching him walk out on the pitch through the guard of honor from his teammates, give his farewell speech, and be honored one last time by San Siro singing "Si è girato Giroud." Or listening to his final postmatch press conference alongside Pioli, who was also leaving. Many boxes of Kleenex gave their lives for his farewell to Milan.

He loved Milan, and our Milan hearts are filled with gratitude for all he gave us.

Even after all the goodbyes were said, Oli took one more trip, joining the team for their visit to Australia and their friendly match vs. Roma. The displays of gratitude from the Australian fans to see him were all of us, there are just no words that can properly thank him. He will always be the one who was finally worthy to wear the number nine jersey after Pippo Inzaghi. Our big target man, goalscorer, and leader. The one who inspired the next generation of Milan players. The one outfield player worthy to wear Mike's gloves when we needed it (and also, apparently now in France's training.) He brought desire, passion, and entertainment for all. He always stepped up for us, especially in the biggest of moments, and he leaves a big hole in our attack and our hearts. Merci infiniment, Oli.

This post inspired by the music of LIVE's "Lightning Crashes"

Dangerous in the Air

Opponents Try to Contain Him

He is a Goalkeeper's Nightmare

And an Acrobatic Wonder

He is a Versatile Hero

As Well as Inter's Nemesis

Where There Are Goals, There Are Celebrations

Oli Showed Opponents Sportsmanship

And His Teammates Love

And He Adored His Fans, Too

So Difficult to Say Goodbye...

Merci Infiniment, Olivier Giroud Merci Infiniment, Olivier Giroud Reviewed by Elaine on 3:10 PM Rating: 5
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