Leonardo: Milan is still the number 1 city in world football

SAN SIRO: Leonardo reckons Milan is still the capital of football Searching through the Internet i found this interesting article on the Manchester evening news website, that shows that the Milanese teams are keeping their great city in the hearts of all football fans. And in reply to my Dad & Brothers who are Man Utd fans and claim that Inter are no where near as good as their precious Utd all i can say is that the stats speak for themselves – 18 times League champions, 3 European Champions and a Treble each for both teams makes Inter & Man Utd equal in stature. So to my dear family and other Utd fans that haven’t seen the Nerazzurri light – Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!


Leonardo breezes into the media room at Inter Milan’s famed Centro Sportivo training complex looking like something out of a shampoo ad.

Hair still damp after morning drills, he pulls up a sports car-style seat, trimmed in black and blue leather in a room more like a private cinema.

Row on row of similar seats would usually be filled by the Italian press, ready to grill coaches who have undertaken one of the most precarious positions in football.

Situated about an hour outside Milan in the rural village of Appiano Gentile, Centro Sportivo is reminiscent of United’s “fortress Carrington”.

A checkpoint Charlie greets everyone upon arrival, suspiciously looking you up and down before ushering you through to the inner sanctum of the reigning European champions.

He has every reason to be vigilant with hordes of fans amassed outside the gates, desperate to catch a glimpse of their heroes; it is a cottage industry in itself – complete with souvenir stalls and refreshment trucks.

Not too far away at AC Milan’s Milanello training base, an identical scene will be played out – football fans are spoilt for choice in these parts.

Three times in the past eight seasons the Champions League trophy has wound up in Milan – Carlo Ancelotti twice guiding AC to success, Jose Mourinho emulating that feat with Inter last year.

It is typical of the jostle for power between two giants that share the same San Siro home. A battle that is unique and long-earned Milan the title of football’s unofficial capital.
Rome has Roma and Lazio – but their tussle is hardly fought out at the same level.

In London, Chelsea and Arsenal have become Premier League super-powers, while Tottenham are trying to throw their name into the mix

But the depressing fact for the capital is that the closest the European Cup has come to finding its way there is when Wembley has hosted the final – just at it will again this year.

Barcelona and Real have had things all their own way in Catalonia and Madrid respectively – and for a long time it’s been the same in Manchester.

That was until a certain Sheikh took an interest in City – now awash with Abu Dhabi riches, Eastlands is home to the wealthiest club in football.

United have long-considered themselves the biggest, so is Manchester on the verge of becoming the new capital of world football?

“Speaking from here, I would say Milan is still the capital of football,” says Leonardo. “I live here, I see the tradition and it is very big even now.”

Few have a better perspective on all things Milan than the former Brazilian international.

As a player, he was an AC hero, later taking up a position on the board before cutting his managerial teeth.

That’s where the love affair with the Rossoneri ended, as he was relieved of his duties after just 11 months.

Now deploying his services on the blue half of the city, the Nerazzurri, he is staging a resurgence of Mourinho’s all-conquering side that lost their way under Rafa Benitez.

With Milan ousted from the Champions League by Tottenham on Wednesday and Roma dumped out by Shakhtar Donetsk 24 hours earlier, Inter are Italy’s sole hope.

Even that hangs on a thread with them trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich after the first leg of their last 16 tie.

They meet next week and Leonardo is plotting the fightback against the side Inter beat in last year’s final.

That’s where we meet.

Leonardo has been running tactical drills on a crisp spring morning.

It’s hardly surprising to see Wesley Sneijder – the star of Inter’s success last season and Holland’s World Cup campaign – at the heart of things.

One intriguing altercation with full back, Maicon, sees a Dutchman and a Brazilian, playing in Italy and swearing in English.

We are here to discuss Inter’s involvement in the Dublin Super Cup in July, a pre-season tournament that also includes City and Celtic.

Leonardo is obliged to do his bit to promote the event, but he admits he could be long gone by the time it comes around.

“I have to be here in Milan so I have to wait a little bit,” he says. “But the coach’s life is very short, don’t worry. In six months I’ll be back.”

You sense he is only half joking.

If the life of a coach – particularly in Italy – is transient the heritage of a club is not, which is why he insists it is premature to decree Manchester the capital of the global game just yet.

Inter have won 18 Serie A titles and three European Cups, while Milan have won 17 titles and been champions of Europe on seven occasions.

While United’s 18 titles and three European Cups is in keeping with Europe’s best, City have yet to qualify for the Champions League.

“Maybe Manchester will rival Milan,” says Leonardo. “But Manchester City have to win something to create a team that people want to watch every week around the world.

“It is a transformation and it is not easy. Everybody needs time to do a project. It’s not only a question of the economics, but you also have to recognise that they need to create tradition.

“Sometimes you need time but they have done it very, very fast. Today City is a big team who can fight anywhere.

“Perhaps Manchester, with two big teams could be in the same situation as Milan as sometimes you don’t have equal teams in the same city.

“It is difficult in other capitals and other cities to have two teams. You tend to have a big one and a middle one. Here in Milan it is very, very equal. With Manchester City growing like they are, in the future it could be the same situation.”

INTER Milan will be at the Dublin Super Cup, a new pre-season tournament at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on July 30th and 31st.

Will Manchester rival Milan as the world’s football capital?
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About Don Nerazzurri

Huge fan of FC Internazionale Milano and founder of the Nerazzurri World blog, Inter is in my soul, cut me & I bleed black and blue! 'il Padrino' of the #InterFamily! C'e Solo l'Inter! Follow me on Twitter - @Don_Nerazzurri

Posted on March 11, 2011, in Misc. and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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