Roberto Donadoni, in May 2018 in Turin as coach of Bologna.NurPhoto / Getty
Arrigo Sacchi's Milan, inherited by Fabio Capello, has bequeathed to the history of world football a series of great footballers who did not hesitate to become coaches afterwards. Known as the sons of Sacchi, few colleagues can boast of having had two professors of such magnitude. Roberto Donadoni (Cisano Bergamasco, Italy; 57 years old) is one of them. Quality midfielder, good dribbling, vision of the game, he won everything that can be won with his lifelong team, including three Champions League, and in the Italian team he was three penalties from glory in the World Cup in the United States 94 where Italy lost the final to Brazil in the final round
Born in the province of Bergamo, trained at Atalanta (96 games, five goals) and a direct rival of Spanish clubs and the national team during his great time at Milan, Donadoni presents himself as a good interlocutor on the eve of the second leg of the Champions League. He lived the past as the protagonist. The present as coach-spectator
Question. His last coaching experience in China ended in December. Do Donadoni's teams think how Donadoni played?
Answer. For a coach it is essential to understand what players he has, both in human and technical material. Then you know if you can model the team to your football ideas. As a coach I have changed many times depending on the players I had. It is important to have the ability to adapt. When I have players who can do it, I bet on purposeful football, attacking, having the ball and controlling the game. That's what I like. I am essentially concerned with my team, with having a philosophy of the game and that the players understand what we want to do. In this way we should worry less about the rival.
Donadoni's sin"'Catenaccio'? Balance isfine for me" Roberto Donadoni, new Italy coach
Q. You were born in the province of Bergamo. Was Atalanta your childhood team or was it one of the greats of Italy?
R. I was always a Milanese, but I do not forget that it is my city, that I played, I grew up there and I have always been closely linked to Atalanta. As a kid my dream was to wear the Milan shirt and when I had the opportunity to sign I accepted without thinking, but I never forget that Atalanta gave me the opportunity to become a level player
Q. Were you very disappointed, or annoyed, with Atalanta-Real Madrid in the first leg?
R. It was a match conditioned by expulsion. Atalanta had to play 10 against 11 and those 11 were from Real Madrid. The referee was quick to send off, he was too quick to get the red card, when it was at most a yellow one. That gave the game a totally different point . I am sure that in Madrid it will not be easy, but eleven against eleven Atalanta will be able to play their cards
Q. As a coach, do you think like your colleague Gasperini, who said after the game that decisions like the one made by the referee can mean the soccer suicide? Was it a bit exaggerated?
R. Said that way it sounds a bit exaggerated, but they are situations that in important competitions change everything. A referee in this competition must assess his decisions well so that what happened does not happen, that a different match was played than expected and can directly affect a classification
Q. How does a coach feel who has worked one, two weeks, in the preparation of a game as transcendental as this and after 15 minutes you have to play something totally different?
R. A coach has to be brave to manage these situations that spoil the work you have done. They are particular moments where balance, willpower must prevail, and we must find how to overcome the moment. If these types of problems affect you, you run the risk of creating alibis and not discerning the possibilities that remain. These events force you to turn the page and put all your knowledge for the next game. It is the only way to overcome a mistake like that
Q. Do you like VAR?
A. Yes, it is a benefit for football, even if there are moments when it can create difficulties
Q. 10 or 15 years ago you Could you imagine an Atalanta who would play the Champions League and fight the big clubs in Europe? It is a miracle?
R. Difficult to think about it, really, but I don't consider it a miracle. When what is happening happens I don't like to talk about miracles. Miracles happen every so often. When a team has this continuity, you can't talk about it. Just work. With the current president, Percassi, the club has been taking huge steps forward in every way for years. Programming, ideas, ability to do business … And all this together, with a great coach, makes it possible for a city like Bergamo to compete with Real Madrid or PSG. It is the fruit of the work of some people with optimal capacity.
P. Gasperini, from a distance, looks like a private coach. With a lot of character, fixed football ideas, a clear model…
R. He is a coach who, above all, carries out his philosophy of the game. Among the abilities of a coach there must also be that of knowing how to change, but it depends on many factors. He knows how to convince his players of what he wants, he makes them believe that this is the good philosophy and he achieves the results he is obtaining. You just have to congratulate him.
Q. Can Atalanta win in Madrid?
A. Yes, you can. You must play with all your energy and ability. Do not be afraid. When you play against a team like Madrid, you have to have the ability not to concede, not to give away anything. If you concede, you will take risks, but at the same time you will surely have to do it in the last 20-30 minutes. In the first 60 he must play his game, as he always does
Q. Did Madrid disappoint you in Bergamo?
R. Facing Atalanta is not easy, but, of course, when you play 11 against 10 for so many minutes, of a team Like Real Madrid, we can expect a little more, anything better, more chances to score, but they didn't have them, that's why Atalanta must understand that they are at the level of Real Madrid .
Q. As a player, you faced Zidane. You at Milan and he at Juve. Have you had contact after that time?
A. Only in the field. We have never had the opportunity to talk about football .
Q. Throughout your football career you have spent your life playing against Spanish teams and against the national team. What do you remember from those games, from 5-0 at San Siro to Real Madrid or 4-0 to Barcelona in the final of the European Cup in Athens?
R. They are memories that I have very vivid. When you face a team like Real Madrid with those great players and you are capable of winning 5-0, you never forget it… The important thing was to play against them. The stimulus was maximum. When you play against other weaker players, everything is easier, but when you face players of that level and you win, you show your true ability
Q. It is said that, in the final in Athens, Johan Cruyff did not value before the match in fair measure to Milan …
R. I don't know what the great Cruyff said and did before the game. What we felt, what was said, was that Barcelona thought they would easily beat Milan. And when you go to play against the great teams and give them that kind of stimulus it can be very dangerous, which is what happened later.
Q. Even if you were in a great European team like Milan, have you ever, in those years, Did you have the opportunity or the desire to play in Spain, Real or Barça?
R. There was an opportunity. When I finished at Milan and I went to play in the United States. A few months after I was there, Capello, who was Real Madrid coach, called me and asked if I wanted to go play there. He told me that he needed a player with my characteristics. But I don't know how Milan found out and told me that if I went back to Europe I should go home. I had no obligation to return, but I did it for a matter in which my heart commanded. It would have been very good to play for Real Madrid. Now when I talk about it, I regret it a bit because it would have been a great opportunity.
Q. What was Sacchi's Milan like? How has he contributed to the history of football?
R. With his philosophy of the game, the way of working, the way of interpreting the profession. Sacchi was a great innovator. He dedicated all his time to the profession and gave us players the possibility of being a great team and instilled in many of us the illusion of being coaches in the future. In the following years, with Capello, we still benefited from the work we had done with Arrigo, together with the contribution that Fabio knew how to give. He gave value to his inheritance. As coaches they were different. Also of character. Sacchi had never been a player and had never been in a locker room, while Capello had. This was his advantage .
P. He only needed to win a World Cup. Have you given much thought to that final against Brazil?
A. In '90 we lost in the semifinals and in '94 in the final. No, I haven't thought so much about that game. I have always tried to forget about those situations. The important thing is always the day after. Life must be faced like this. Look ahead. We cannot change what happened .
Q. Do you think that football is changing trend?
A. Yes. Today the physical aspect is an important component. Teams make a big difference when they have players with great physical capacity and great technical capacity at the same time. The general idea is to have players with great athletic ability. But I still like to see technical players.
P. Now it seems that what in Spain is called touch game is a bit out of use.
R. It is not a question of being old or out of use. All the teams study and understand the football that needs to be done and look for the antidotes for the others. Now the tiki-taka may be less beautiful to look at or give less results. A coach must carry out his philosophy of the game, his mentality, but the one who is two or three years old cannot think that it always works. In any type of game, of tactics, of mentality, you have to put some variation .
Q. Before retiring do you hope to be the coach of Milan?
R. I would like to. There have been two or three moments when I thought it could have been, but it didn't happen. I was in China, Mila called me because he changed coach, but he was committed to the Chinese club and due to an ethical issue, I couldn't leave overnight. We'll see what the future holds.
The Italy-Spain and the Belgrade scare
Sitting on the Italian bench in those quarterfinals of Euro 2008, Roberto Donadoni was a direct witness to the start of La Roja's golden stage. “Playing against Italy was not easy for anyone. In those years of mine as a player, we were very strong. It is true that Spain did not reach the final rounds, but it was always close. When I was a coach, we lost against Spain. That game changed the history of Spanish football. If we had won on those penalties, clearly they would not have won that European and perhaps, later, they would not have won the World Cup and the second European. That victory gave Spain great conviction and encouragement to start winning. That day I would not have bet that Spain would later win everything they won, but I did see a team with great potential. ”In 1988, Donadoni experienced a tragic moment in a Red Star-Milan. In a collision with a Yugoslav player, he lost consciousness and the opposing team's doctor had to break his jaw to prevent him from drowning. Nothing remains of that incident in his memory. “It is not something that could have come to my memory later because I do not remember how it happened. I know that the doctor saved my life, that I woke up in the hospital and that that year we won the European Cup. It was just an incident. I can't think that a footballer could enter a soccer field to harm a teammate. ”
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Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my firstname.lastname@example.org 1-800-268-7116