AC Milan Overcome 11-Year Drought to Win Serie A Title, Cites Kobe Bryant as Inspiration
Italian club AC Milan finally brought home the gold after more than a decade away from their last league win. AC Milan was able to reclaim the Serie A title after thwarting mid-table team Sassuolo on a 3-0 margin with two goals by French striker Olivier Giroud and the final nail in the coffin by midfield juggernaut Franck Kessie. The team came into the fixture knowing they would need at least a draw to clinch the title, but the fighting spirit of the Rossoneri went above and beyond to gain all three points.
Manager Stefano Piolo and the team fought tooth and nail the entire season, often exchanging the top spot with derby rivals Inter Milan. However, after a series of goalless draws, the team was able to turn things around and step up, winning their final game of the season and the Serie A title along the process. Despite injuries to key players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer, AC Milan beat all odds to celebrate their 19th Scudetto, putting them level with Inter after they snatched the league from Juventus last season.
The last time AC Milan won the league was in 2011 under Massimilano Allegri, the current coach of Juventus. Since then, many coaches have come and gone, most of which were former Serie A players and even Milan alumni, including Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi, and more recently, Gennaro Gattuso. All had tried, but Gattuso came the closest to bringing Milan back to its former glory.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the only player left from the Milan side that won the league eleven years ago and, at the age of 40, managed to help bring home the glory. Midfielder Daniel Maldini’s involvement the entire season puts him on the same path as his father, Paolo Maldini, who won seven league titles during his tenure, and grandfather Cesare Maldini, who won four.
While many were confident of the team winning the league early this year, Pioli and his players kept a level head, citing Los Angeles Lakers legend and long-time AC Milan fan Kobe Bryant as an inspiration.
“I showed the lads an interview with Kobe Bryant, who said at 2-0 up in the NBA playoffs, the job is not done. We’re not done,” Piolo said in the postmatch interview after Milan’s win over Atalanta last week. “We need to maintain that calm and concentration that can, in the end, prove decisive.”
“When we took charge at Milan, the team had completely different tactical ideals and concepts, so we had to change everything. Now the good thing is that the players enjoy making the most of our strengths and preparing tactically, being able to adjust also to limit our opponents.”