Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Rossoneri’s foreign players after that fall from Istanbul

The Rossoneri’s foreign players after that fall from Istanbul
by rick olivares

While watching the Azkals-UFL Alyansa almost immediately go under to Internacional de Madrid in the first half, I tweeted about the home side being down. Someone responded by reminding me about Liverpool’s magical Istanbul ride in the 2005 UEFA Champions League finals against AC Milan after being down 3-nil at the half (the game has since become a symbol of hope for seemingly lost causes).

We were, of course, unable to catch up, and ultimately lost 3-1. But I still thought of Milan and Istanbul and how that game changed the lives of many Rossoneri players that day.

While it is no secret that I am a Liverpool fan, my being a lifelong fan of the beautiful game has seen me follow the seasons of various leagues, clubs, and players. As for Milan, we all know they got their revenge on Liverpool two years later in the Champions League Finals where they won 2-1. But I thought that I’d give Milan a look.

Prior to their Serie A win last season, the 2007 CL Cup was their last fling with glory before Internazionale took over as top dog of Italian Division One play.

I wondered what happened to that 2005 Rossoneri team? The Italian players have done well but the foreign ones? Since that game, they either left Milan or they didn’t do too well and thus, retired.

The first high-profile player to leave that club was striker Andriy Shevchenko. He went to Chelsea where he became a massive disappointment. He went to Stamford Bridge on a €30.8 million signing and yet he saw mostly the bench or the injury list in three nightmarish years. And he only scored nine goals in 48 appearances for the team.

Midfielder Kaka is another one. For all his proclamations that he was in Milan for life (as opposed to Manchester City that offered him a huge contract), he signed with Real Madrid in 2009. But he has been injured, out-of-from, and a disappointment. He has since been relegated as back up to German midfielder Mesut Ozil.

Hernan Crespo on loan from Chelsea when he suited up for Milan in 2005. The Argentinean scored two of the three Milan goals that day against Liverpool. After one season with the red and blacks, he moved to Intermilan, Genoa and Parma. It’s only with Inter where Crespo had some form of success (if you can call nine goals a year for two years a form of success for a striker who played 49 games for the Nerrazurri.

Brazilian defender Cafu started in the back four with Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, and Jaap Stam that day in Istanbul. Cafu would go on to be one of the most capped Brazilians ever but after that he had a recurring problem regarding a falsified passports in Italy (he was nearly imprisoned). One that haunted him even on the eve of the 2006 World Cup. He retired rather quietly after the 2008 season in Milan.

Midfielder Rui Costa came off the bench in the 112th minute of the game but the Portuguese who was clearly at the tail end of his career that began so brilliantly with Benfica wasn’t much of an influence in the game. He wasn’t even asked by Carlo Ancelotti to take one of the penalties during the shootout. In contrast, subs Serginho and Jon Dahl Tomasson took their spot kicks.

Jaap Stam, left Milan after that season to go back to the Netherlands to play 31 games for Ajax Amsterdam where he wasn’t much of an impact. He now works as a scout for Manchester United.

Stam’s Dutch compatriot, Clarence Seedorf started in Milan’s midfield that day. He is still with the Rossoneri and has done well, but of late, he has lost his starting position to Mark Van Bommel.

And there’s Dida, the goalkeeper. Do we even have to talk about what happened to him?
Of the lineup that took the field in Istanbul in 2005, Dida, Nesta, Maldini, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Seedorf, and Kaka once more started for Ancelotti in the revenge match in Athens in 2007.

I don’t think the 2005 club is jinxed. I would even say that they got old as Intermilan became the Serie A power. Think it’s just ironic that the non-Italian players in Milan’s promising lineup didn’t fare too well after that game and sort of faded away (not all of course).

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