AC Milan legend Daniele Massaro tells a story about Carlo Ancelotti to illustrate the fire that burns in the belly of the Everton boss.
It starts with him recalling how Ancelotti suffered such severe knee problems as a player that he needed help just to get out of bed.
It ends with a description of how the midfielder made himself indispensable to a Milan team that became the most dominant force in Europe under Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello.
In an exclusive interview, it was telling that the first thing Massaro turned to when asked about Ancelotti’s motivation for going to Goodison Park was his mindset.
“I shared a room with Carlo for five years for away games – and I know his character and his qualities,” said Massaro, a World Cup winner and scorer of two goals when Milan destroyed Barcelona 4-0 in the 1994 European Cup final.
“I remember that every morning the first thing I had to do was to bend his knees to help him get out of the bed.
“But he was still such a key player for the team – and for the game Milan played. From an aesthetic point of view, he was neither (Frank) Rijkaard nor (Zvonimir) Boban.
“But he was an exceptional barrier in midfield. He would regain the ball and start a new attack. The amazing thing about Carlo was that he was not so fast, but he could read and control the game.
“And these are the qualities you can see in his strategy as a coach.
“The Everton executives who appointed Ancelotti have the right man – someone who will entertain with good football and who can drive forward an ambitious project. It was a good choice if the aim is to make the club one of the best in England.”
Massaro and Ancelotti were part of the Milan side that retained the European Cup in 1990.
Four years later, when the striker’s double helped humiliate a Barca team that included Pep Guardiola, there was no Ancelotti.
Those chronic knee problems had forced him to retire at 33 and he was taking his coaching badges at the Italian FA’s technical centre at Coverciano.
Massaro already knew the direction his former room-mate was going in.
Speaking at the launch of AC Milan’s partnership with ROinvesting, he said: “I think Carlo’s greatest stroke of luck was to have Sacchi as his coach. His nickname was ‘Capoccione’ – which means ‘headstrong’ – because he knows his own mind. He has moved on from Sacchi’s 4-4-2 formation, but there is still much of Arrigo in the way Carlo organises the game.
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