Capello admits ‘regret’ for second stint in Milan, lifts lid on collaboration with Ibrahimovic


Fabio Capello has spoken about some of the ups and downs of his coaching career, admitting he regrets returning for a second stint at AC Milan.

Capello gave a lengthy interview for GameInsight in which he touched on topics relating to the Rossoneri, starting by describing his time at the club as his best time as a manager, with MilanNews relaying his comments.


“The longest and most positive was the one with Milan because after Sacchi it was said that the team no longer wanted to work. I took over this team and it became the ‘Invincibles’ team. We played there 58 matches without ever losing, Champions League finals have been played, Champions League victories too,” he said.

“In all the other teams I coached, however, it was I who gave that little extra. In Rome, after 20 years without winning the Scudetto after Liedholm, in two years I managed to win the championship.

“I went to Real Madrid and we won after 3 years without winning anything. I also won at Juve. The only regret was when I came back to Milan because I found a team that didn’t It wasn’t the one I had done. Everywhere I worked, I gave something, and it’s a satisfaction.

In his first five seasons as manager, Capello won four Serie A titles with Milan as well as the 1993-94 UEFA Champions League, beating Barcelona 4-0 in a memorable final in which the Rossoneri were not favorites.

However, his second term was nowhere near as successful, with Milan winning just 11 games all season in 1997-98, finishing in 10th place and 30 points behind eventual champions Juventus.

“I regret coming back to Milan. I had won the league at Real Madrid and I asked the president to come back to Milan because Berlusconi told me. I owe everything to Berlusconi. My career started thanks to to Berlusconi. Gratitude is something very close to my heart,” Capello revealed.

“He called me but when I came back after a year I told him it didn’t look like a team fit to win and in fact it was. I was sorry when they fired me because that the following year they formed a team to win the league. Thanks to coach Zaccheroni, but it was a team that I had planned. I felt a little bit mine that Scudetto. I was happy to have paid the price of gratitude.

One of the forwards Capello worked with was Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he coached Juventus, and he revealed some of the things he taught the Swede.

“Ibrahimovic’s story is very beautiful. I had heard of this guy. We played a game for Roma against Ajax in Berlin. When I got the list of players, he was not among the starters. So, thinking he would play in the second half, I stayed out at the end of the first half and didn’t go into the locker room with the players to watch him warm up.” he declares.

“I immediately understood from the way he dribbled that he had excellent technique. Then he played and I understood him even more. Depending on the opponents in front of you, we can make assessments. With bad opponents it might be easy to show off, but I had a good team since we won the title and I was impressed with Ibrahimovic.

“Then when I went to Juventus we only had one striker who was Trezeguet and I asked the managers at the time to buy Ibrahimovic. We bought Ibrahimovic on a bargain – 16 million payable in 4 years Ajax had seen qualities in the player but maybe they didn’t believe it completely, otherwise they would have asked for 16 million immediately and not in 4 years.

“He came to us and I started working with him. I worked a lot because he couldn’t shoot well and couldn’t play with his head. At first, he didn’t live to score. When you have a talent it doesn’t take much to improve, and in fact it quickly improves weak points.

“But above all he understood this thing that he didn’t have inside, which is to go in front of the door. So one day I had a tape prepared with all of Van Basten’s goals, I called him into my office and told him to watch this tape and he put this thing into action by becoming an assistant and goalscorer.

“Knowing him, I thought he could go on for a long time. To reach the age of 40 still with this desire, deserves the credit. He has the merit because he is attached to this profession because for him being a footballer is a profession .

“He always wants to be the protagonist by being a leader. But they are two different things because you can be a locker room man but not a protagonist on the pitch. But he is the protagonist both on and off the pitch.

“Am I still talking to him? Yes, we talk to each other from time to time. I was at the presentation of his latest book. He called me on stage with him because he’s grateful. He knows that I was able to bring out the talent he had inside by showing his qualities on the pitch.”

Capello was asked if he prefers working with Andrea Pirlo or Gennaro Gattuso in his midfield.

“They are different, but together they are perfect. This is what all midfield coaches are looking for. One has great sense and sees the game in ways the others don’t, and the other backs it up with obscure work that is crucial.”