Legend of Calcio: Carlo Ancelotti
Carlo Ancelotti has become a household name among Italian and European football fans alike, making a positive impact at each junction of a career littered with trophies. Muhammad Alif looks back over his time in football.
Widely acknowledged as one of the best midfielders to ever grace the Italian game, Carlo Ancelotti was calmness personified.
Raised as a Catholic by Salesian monks in the town of Reggiolo, Ancelotti began his journey as a footballer in 1974 with Parma.
But his relationship with the Gialloblu was short-lived as in 1979, the midfielder switched to rivals Roma.
It would be at the Giallorossi where his playing career took off, he left an indelible mark on the game as he captained the Lupi to several domestic honours including four Coppa Italias and the Scudetto in 1983, in what was arguably their most successful period.
‘Carletto’ was now an established star, but his time with Roma ended acrimoniously.
Injuries began to curtail Ancelotti’s progress with the Lupi and a persistent knee problem saw him leave La Maggica having netted 12 goals in 171 appearances.
Ancelotti was given a new lease of life as AC Milan and Arrigo Sacchi came calling in 1987.
The Diavolo ushered in an era of dominance under new owner Silvio Berlusconi with Ancelotti becoming a mainstay in the team, underlined in a brilliant moment against Real Madrid in the 1989 European Cup semi-final, where he darted past two opponents before rifling a powerful long-range shot into the net.
The match finished 5-0 to Milan and he lifted Europe’s biggest club prize as the Italian club went on to thump FC Steaua Bucuresti 4-0 in the final.
Ancelotti’s time at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza added to his trophy collection as he collected back-to-back European Cups, two Scudetti, a Supercoppa Italiana and two Intercontinental Cups all in a space of five years.
Despite his success at club level, Ancelotti’s record with Italy proved to be a hit and miss. Destined to be included in the 1982 World Cup squad, his troublesome knee was his undoing once more as he missed out on the tournament in which the Azzurri would be triumphant.
Italia ’90 represented a final shot at glory. A third-place finish was all the Azzurri could earn on home soil as they fell short, this time to Diego Maradona’s Argentina, who beat them on penalties in the semi-finals.
Retirement from international football followed in 1991 and in 1992 after 338 appearances as a player, he decided to retire from the game.
After retiring, Ancelotti began his first coaching role with Reggiana in 1995, where he helped them gain promotion to Serie A before leaving in 1996.
Parma was next. I Ducali’s squad contained future Italy stars in Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon who were cornerstones in Ancelotti’s quest for success.
The 1996–97 season saw Parma finish second, qualifying for the Champions League. But the next season saw the club finished a disappointing fifth place and cost Ancelotti his job. In 1999, Juventus appointed Ancelotti to replace Marcello Lippi.
Juve faced a trophy drought under Ancelotti and their dominance in Serie A was soon converted into being perennial runners-up in the two seasons he was in charge.
The 2000-2001 season saw Ancelotti’s reign come to an end in Turin after Roma won the Scudetto, and his dismissal was announced by Juve at half-time in the final league game of the season.
Milan hired him on 6 November 2001. At the Rossoneri, his brilliance was on display as he took a struggling Milan team and turned them into champions.
Ancelotti’s tactical nous led the Diavolo to one Coppa Italia, Scudetto and FIFA Club World Cup and two Champions League and UEFA Super Cups.
Despite a host of honours, Ancelotti’s time at the San Siro would be marked by a painful defeat to Liverpool in the 2004-2005 Champions League final where despite Milan leading 3-0 and on the cusp of adding another European crown, they were defeated in dramatic fashion on penalties.
He resigned from Milan in the 2008-2009 season after helping Milan gain third place in Serie A.
Upon leaving Italy, the Reggiolo native signed for English Premier League side Chelsea on June 1 2009.
The 2009-2010 season would prove to be the highlight of Ancelotti’s time in charge of the Blues as he completed the domestic double.
He guided the club to the league title piping rivals Manchester United by a point. His free-scoring side racked up a record 103 goals that season.
Adding to Chelsea’s silverware that season was their FA Cup win over Portsmouth, squeezing past Nvram Grant’s outfit 1–0 in the final at Wembley to retaining the cup.
Failure to repeat those successes in the next season caused club owner Roman Abramovich to eventually put to work his hire and fire policy causing Ancelotti’s departure.
Nouveau riche French club Paris Saint-Germain soon wooed him back to management on December 30 2011.
Ancelotti was a central part of their project and in his first full season at the club, he oversaw their league title triumph which was their first in 19 years.
On May 19 2013, Ancelotti left Paris for Real Madrid.
The tactician arrived in the Spanish capital having signed a three-year deal with Los Blancos on June 25 2013.
Los Merengues’ fortunes would immediately turn around with Ancelotti’s arrival and implementation of an incisive brand of counter-attacking football in the 2013-2014 campaign.
Their trophy hauls started with the Copa Del rey where they defeated bitter rivals Barcelona 2-1 in the final.
Madrid would also lay claim to the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup which was the club’s first.
Ancelotti secured his place in Madrid folklore when Madrid defeated cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 to secure the coveted ‘La Decima’ in the 2014 Champions League final after a late equaliser forced extra-time.
The next season, Madrid underwent a slump losing top spot to Barcelona in La Liga.
Successive defeats led to impatient Madrid president Florentino Perez, sacking him on May 25 2015.
After taking time away from the game, ‘Carletto’ will start another journey in his coaching career with Bayern Munich when he takes over from Pep Guardiola for the 2016-2017 season as he embarks on the next chapter of a remarkable career to date.