Ambrosini, the last man standing

Massimiliano Allegri will be lining up a new and completely contrasting looking Milan from last year, with only Massimo Ambrosini’s name rekindling memories from the past. While no less than seven players having already parted ways with the club, Ambrosini is one player who deserves every ounce of respect the Milanisti faithful can give him. Calcio In Heels takes a look at his Milan devotion.

Amid the mass Rossonero exodus, Adriano Galliani stated: “Ambrosini is the only one who remains from the 2007 squad which won the last Champions League in Athens.

“Now the players are different in respect to a few years ago, there are no more flag bearers. We have to work more to create the same dressing room which won us the Champions League. “

Work they must.  Long gone are the days when Pippo Inzaghi was being flagged offside, Paolo Maldini was running up and down the flanks, Clarence Seedorf was in his prime and Gennaro Gattuso was diving into every challenge.

The great Milan era is now over, though one persona remains- Massimo Ambrosini.

Adopting the famous armband in 2009, which was donned by Maldini for many remarkable years, the Pesaro-born midfielder had to bear the weight of Milan’s biggest legend: a task few would confidently step into.

Born nine years apart one thing the pair did have in common was their affinity and love for the jersey of Milan. From day one, the pair only saw the colours of red and black, they never questioned their contracts and played for the shirt, not their bank accounts.

Although he may have spent his first year in professional football at Cesena, Ambrosini lived and breathed for the famous Rossonero shirt. A Milanista growing up, the Italian international was sent on-loan to Vicenza and swiftly earned recognition for his efforts in helping the club preserve their Serie A status.

Constantly unlucky with injuries, Ambrosini earned a permanent return to the club in 1998, but playing time was limited due to his fitness struggles. When the managers pushed him aside, Ambrosini stayed loyal to Milan and fought with all his might to return back into the squad.

Like his game times, his goals where often unpredictable and scattered, yet he mastered the art of scoring the crucial goals. In 2005 Ambro scored the goal that helped Milan secure their 17th Scudetto, while his bench appearance saw him give his injuries a sucker punch by scoring in injury time against PSV to send Milan through to the final of the Champions League.

His devotion to the club was rewarded when he was handed announced as Paolo Maldini’s predecessor of the captain’s armband in 2009.

I am really excited and proud," he said during his unveiling as skipper. "Paolo Maldini's inheritance is very important. I thank him for what he was to me and us all. I feel very lucky to hold the captain's armband of Milan.”

 Alessandro Nesta, Gianluca Zambrotta, Filippo Inzaghi, Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and most recently Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic bid their respect farewells to the club, Ambrosini decided to stay.

Like a skipper should never abandon a sinking ship, Ambrosini took the brave leap and stood firm in order to help lead the revolution at Milan.

Seventeen preseasons, 12 titles, 464 appearances and 36 goals later, the 35-year-old embarked on a completely new and different chapter in his Rossonero life, but nothing he wasn’t ready to embrace.

“Milan have come to a fundamental turning point; the most important one that I can remember,” he told il Corriere dello Sport. “It’s the biggest change since I’ve been at the club, really massive.

“Come 9 July, I’ll be prouder than ever to walk into the changing room as captain. We can win or we can lose but we know how to rejoice and to move people. We are Milan, with the pride and the desire that sets us apart.”

Even though the temptation to jump ship may have been there, the midfielder has shown nothing but commitment for Milan for nearly two decades. And whilst Thiago Silva’s departure has sprouted talk of ‘who will be the next Milan captain’, that question shouldn’t even be ringing around the corridors of Milanello, as there is only one person worthy of retaining that title.

Filling in adequately from the great number three jersey of Maldini, Ambrosini- and above all- the fans should be proud in his efforts in being the last man standing in a concluding Milan era and the one conducting the start of another.


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