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On the columns of La Gazzetta dello Sport, Carlo Ancelotti wrote a letter to Gennaro Gattuso on the day of his 40th birthday.
“Forty years, dear Rino, deserve a serious letter of greeting, not just a phone call, our usual chatter, our jokes. Forty years are a moment of reflection, there is enough time left to remember and there is also a lot of space in front to build new ventures. Now that I see you on the bench of Milan, and you act like crazy, scream, shout, incite your players, I think that you’re the right person in the right place: there is need for your passion, your character, for your spirit of sacrifice to overcome obstacles; there is also need for your joy to defuse certain tensions; and for some of yours solemn rage to wake someone who sleeps, because in a team, in a group, there is always someone who sleeps … On the pitch you were my warrior.
Never have I seen you give up, never have I seen the shirt you wear clean, never have I seen you struggle. This is what I have always admired in you: the ability to reach the goal in spite of nature did not gift you great technical means. Because – can I say? – your feet are not exactly the best educated! But the grit that you possessed nobody else had, something unusual, you knew how to pass it on to others. How many times have I seen you talking to a teammate to help him, encourage him, support him in difficult times! That’s what football is: beyond the schemes, modules, diagonals, pressing and counterattacks, there are people. And it’s the people who make the difference. You, dear Rino, for me and for our Milan, you did it.
Eight years I trained you. And I supported you. Before the matches you were unapproachable: nervous, grumpy. It was your way to prepare yourself, and since I played the game well in advance, I knew how to behave with you: a joke just to lower the level of anxiety, a laugh, a walk outside the locker room. Do you remember when we were in retreat in Malta, in January 2007? Kaladze made you crazy, because he made fun of you for your birthday, and the other players supported him. I pretended like I didn’t see anything, but I knew that with you it was not necessary to exaggerate, otherwise, as we say between us, ‘ignorance snaps’.
And in fact one evening you went after Kaladze in the restaurant and I do not want to know what happened. I know, however, what happened a few months later. In those days, in Malta, I made you a promise: I will take you to the Champions League final. You took me for crazy. But then we got to the final, and we won it too. And you, Rino, of that Milan, you were the soul. I wish you to be still on the bench, you deserve it “.