Gennaro Gattuso is excited after being handed his “dream” job as AC Milan head coach, and the Rossoneri favourite is adamant there is nowhere better to be involved in football than the place he calls “paradise”.
The former Milan and Italy star was promoted from his role leading the Primavera youth team following the dismissal on Monday of Vincenzo Montella.
Montella was sacked due to the team’s underwhelming start to the campaign, which came after a period of heavy spending in the off-season.
Gattuso, who played for the club between 1999 and 2012, will be tasked with improving Milan’s fortunes, as they sit seventh in Serie A following a 0-0 draw with Torino on Sunday.
And although Milan have endured a steady decline since Gattuso’s illustrious playing days at San Siro, the club is no less of a giant in his eyes.
“I feel the same kind of emotions as when I first joined as a player,” Gattuso told reporters.
“Today is paradise – this place is paradise. It’s the perfect place for a footballer.
“Nothing comes close to Milanello [the training base], believe me. I’ve experienced a lot in the last five years.
“Nothing comes close to Milan and Milanello. I want the players to show the same passion as me. I love my job – it gives me energy and this is an absolute dream and a very special day.
“I must get my head down and work hard. I’ve overcome a number of challenges in my career and this will be exciting.
“There are a lot of young players in the squad and I look forward to that [coaching the youngsters].
“It’s a difficult time in terms of results. But I’ve overcome bigger challenges in my career, like at Pisa where there were lots of problems behind the scenes, so I’m confident I can steer Milan away from trouble.
“In terms of the criticism [I’ve received], I’d say I’ve got quite a lot of experience as a coach. I’m confident in my abilities and the squad.”
One reservation some have raised about Gattuso is that, although he personified passion during his playing days, such strong emotions appear to have had little impact in his modest coaching career to date.
But he is adamant there is more to him than his personality, and he is eager to prove it.
“I don’t think it’s just my personality or character that I can pass on,” Gattuso said. “I’m a bit more than that.
“I’ve always got that battling spirit in in me – that distinguished my playing career, but that was a while ago.
“I don’t think that does enough justice to my coaching abilities. I’ve studied to become a coach, I’ve experienced other cultures.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that only grit and determination is what I will offer the team.”
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