It may seem inconceivable nowadays, but once upon a time, Juventus were not the most dominant club in Italy.
Milano was the home of Italian football, with Inter and Milan regularly battling it out for the top spot in Serie A. It was a glorious era in the world of calcio, and 2021 marks 10 years since I Rossoneri claimed their last scudetto.
The European giants boasted a squad filled with experienced superstars of the game, finishing six points ahead of rivals Inter to lift their 18th league trophy, and the first since 2004. Another barren spell has followed since then, but a decade later, Milan are in the thick of a surprise title challenge.
But who were the last set of club legends to bring glory back to Milano, and where are they now?
Christian Abbiati was a constant presence between the sticks for I Rossoneri during this title success, making 35 appearances and helping his backline to achieve the stingiest defence in Italy, conceding only 24 goals all season.
The Italian’s strong connection to the city saw him reinstated as club manager in 2017, liaising between the players and the hierarchy, but he left his role after only a year in charge.
The Roma youth academy product, who was part of I Giallorossi’s title-winning squad in 2001, won his second league title as a backup shot-stopper with Milan in 2011.
In 2015, Marco Amelia was drafted in by Chelsea, playing backup to Thibaut Courtois and Asmir Begovic. He left at the end of the season, and went on to become a coach, managing Serie D sides Lupa Roma and Vastese – but with little success. In fact, he was sacked by the club at the start of 2020.
Thiago Silva was at the peak of his powers back in 2011, and played 33 times in Milan’s impressive title success. In fact, no other defender featured more than the Brazilian, who would leave Italy for Paris Saint-Germain in the following campaign.
Silva spent eight glorious years in France, but he left the club to join Chelsea in the summer of 2020, where he is showing his endless experience on the Premier League stage.
Glorious centre-back Alessandro Nesta is a legend to Milan, calcio and football as a whole. The experienced defender was a key performer in their 2004 glory, and he was equally as vital in their second triumph, despite his advancing years.
The Italian moved into the world of management in 2015, taking over at Miami FC. He returned to Italy in 2018, and became the coach of Frosinone in 2019, guiding them to the Serie B playoff final in 2020, where they ultimately fell short against Spezia.
Gianluca Zambrotta made only 15 appearances during the 2010/11 campaign, but his experience was invaluable to the rest of the side. Since retiring from football in 2014, he has taken on a number of coaching roles in China, the last as Fabio Capello’s assistant at Jiangsu Suning in 2017.
He left his role in 2018, however, and is now a pundit on Rai 2’s A tutta rete on Sunday afternoons.
A much-travelled left-back, Luca Antonini was a regular performer in Milan’s defence in 2011. The 38-year-old is now enjoying retirement, having finished his career with Prato in 2016. A well-deserved rest.
Sokratis had no major influence over Milan’s scudetto glory, making only five appearances in the 2010/11 campaign. His career later led him to north London, where he failed to impress at Arsenal, culminating in the Gunners cancelling his contract in the 2021 January transfer window.
He’s now back in Greece, turning out for Olympiacos.
Massimo Oddo made seven appearances in 2010/11, earning himself a place in Milan’s Hall of Fame. He became manager of Pescara in 2015, then moved to Udinese in 2017, then endured a brief spell at Crotone, and then switched to Perugia.
He was sacked by Perugia in January 2020, but was rehired in July, then sacked again in August. He then returned to Pescara, coached for nine matches, and was sacked again. Got all that? Good.
Marek Jankulovski featured only five times, but they all count! He now takes part in charity matches for a team called Real TOP Praha.
Daniele Bonera got some decent game time in 2010/11, making 16 appearances for Massimiliano Allegri’s side.
He has now moved from the pitch to the bench, and even led Milan to victory when Stefano Pioli contracted coronavirus. Manager in the making.
Mario Yepes tasted title success in his maiden campaign in Milan, but never become a true regular. He did dabble in management at the end of his playing career, coaching Deportivo Cali in Colombia. This experience lasted 11 months, and it was his final bite at the cherry – for the moment, anyway.
Mark van Bommel
Mark van Bommel joined Milan in the January transfer window and played a crucial role in helping them over the line in the title race. He stayed for another season, but left in 2012.
After rounding off his career in Holland with PSV Eindhoven, Van Bommel became Australia’s assistant coach in 2018, before taking over at PSV in the same year. He was sacked 18 months later, though.
Gennaro Gattuso was a key member of the Milan midfield, providing the bite and aggression needed to accompany the artistry and class of his teammates.
He moved into management at the end of his career, taking charge of Pisa, returning to Milan and then joining rivals Napoli, where he is currently still doing the business. A proper winner.
Clarence Seedorf was one of the greatest and most complete centre-midfielders of all time, and he was still bossing the heart of Italy well beyond his peak, appearing more than 30 times in 2010/11.
He too became a manager, taking over as coach of I Rossoneri and winning 35 out of a possible 57 points. He inexplicably got the sack and was replaced by a far less successful Filippo Inzaghi, and he then went on to manage Cameroon, which did not go to plan.
Mathieu Flamini is an Arsenal legend, but it was with Milan that he won his only league title. The talented midfielder departed the football world upon his retirement in 2019, and is now the co-founder of the business GF Biochemicals, the first company to ever mass-produce Levulinic acid.
The secondary career for most footballers, in fairness.
Ignazio Abate started and ended his career in Milano, making 243 league appearances for I Rossoneri. He did not go into management upon retiring, but enjoys keeping fit with ‘Buddyfit’, and posts the odd update on Twitter.
This was the beginning of Andrea Pirlo being phased out by Milan, and he made only 17 appearances. From here, he joined Juventus, became recognised as one of the greatest playmakers in history and won loads of titles.
His playing career came to an end in 2017, and he made a dramatic return to Turin in the summer of 2020, when he was announced as I Bianconeri’s new coach. We’re still waiting to see if he is able to replicate his success as a player in a managerial capacity.
Massimo Ambrosini inherited the captain’s armband from Paolo Maldini, and led by example, wearing it with pride. He captained Milan to glory in 2011, making 18 appearances in a star-studded midfield.
He opted not to go into coaching or management after his retirement, instead becoming a pundit on Sky Sport Italia, offering his opinions on the hottest Serie A topics. He’ll be pretty chuffed with how this season is going for his former club.
Kevin Prince Boateng
Kevin Prince Boateng was a proper baller for Milan in the title-winning season, and celebrated by imitating Michael Jackson at the trophy presentation in San Siro. Worth a watch.
Amazingly, his football career is still going, and at a pretty decent standard, too. The maverick is now playing for Monza in Serie B, along with a certain Mario Balotelli. What a partnership…
Urby Emanuelson joined Milan in January 2011, and went on to make nine appearances in their glorious campaign. He was never quite the success that the club anticipated, and he left in 2014. He’s still playing now at the age of 34, pulling on the jersey of FC Utrecht.
Alexander Merkel came through the Milan academy, but never really flourished into an elite player across Europe. He is still plying his trade in the football world, and plays for Al Faisaly FC.
One of the jewels of Brazilian football, Alexandre Pato could do it all. He scored 14 crucial goals in his 25 performances, securing his place in Milanese folklore. He has travelled plenty since his spell in Serie A, most recently featuring for Sao Paulo, back in Brazil.
His contract was terminated in August 2020, and he is still without a club.
Predatory striker Filippo Inzaghi spent the final 11 years of his illustrious career in Milan, and scored two goals in six matches during his final taste of success. He then (unsuccessfully) led I Rossoneri as their coach, but is now doing great things with Benevento in Serie A.
I wonder what this guy is up to? That’s right. The year is 2021 and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still going strong. The Swede hit 14 goals in the 2010/11 success, and has scored about 4,731 more since then. Could history repeat itself?
Another insanely talented football, although controversy and disputes with the law have rightly dragged his reputation through the mud. Robinho is now fighting a court case against some horrific crimes. Let’s hope justice prevails in this one.
Speaking of brushes with the law… Ronaldinho left Milan halfway through their title-winning season to join Flamengo, before lifting the Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro.
He was imprisoned in March 2020 for sneaking into Paraguay with a false passport – it’s not like he’s recognisable or famous, right? He did win a futsal competition while in the slammer though, and has since been released.
One man who knew how to party was Antonio Cassano. He joined midway through the season, stuck away four goals and bagged himself a winner’s medal. Lovely stuff.
The insanely talented Italian forward later became a pundit on football talk show Tiki Taka, and had a big argument with Mauro Icardi’s wife, Wanda Nara. That sounds like him.