He latesummer in Prague in 1997 attended a night of football that seemed doomed to oblivion the minute it finished. It was a 0-0 between Sparta and Parma, on the first day of the Champions League, and that left 10 yellow cards for dessert. But sometimes history is in charge of rescuing incidental episodes like this one. There were born, at the same time, the careers in the great European tournament of Gianluigi Buffon (19 years old), Fabio Cannavaro (24) and Carlo Ancelotti (38), goalkeeper, central defender and coach, respectively, of that exuberant Parma that raised and sank the Parmalat dairy empire. The first two, world champions in 2006, never raised the orejona; quite the opposite of Carletto, who, at 63, still has a record to beat. This Wednesday, in the second leg of the semifinals against City (9:00 p.m., Movistar; 1-1 in the first leg), he will become the coach with the most games he has managed (191) in the old European Cup, already above Sir Alex Ferguson. .
Only a year before that opening day in the Czech Republic, his first season as head coach had just finished, the experience at La Reggiana had been so stressful for him, despite being promoted to Serie A, that he warned his collaborators that he was not going to to endure a lot on the benches. He would reach the year 2000 for being a round number (he always liked them), and the end. His staff it still reminds him of that promise that ended in nothing.
In the Champions League it premiered in a outsider -that Parma where today Buffon spends his last days at the age of 45-, but his name is welded to the two shields with the most continental titles: he won two of the 14 for Madrid (2014 and 2022) and another two of the seven for Milan (2003 and 2007). He only missed one final, but what a final; that of 2005 with the rossoneri against Liverpool, the night on which, as a person close to him recounts, he criticized himself for having blocked himself and not having found the necessary springs to stop the collapse (he lost on penalties after leading 3-0 at half-time). Of the 10 clubs he has coached, only Reggiana and Everton have been left out of the big catwalk.
His first season in the second Italian, in 1996, was so stressful that he promised to retire in the year 2000
“It is true that I have a very large tray with many titles, but if I have to put the ones I have lost, I need a house,” he commented relaxed two weeks ago. His four crowns in the Champions League make his record unique, although the tournament has also been the trigger for some of his dismissals. In 2011, at Chelsea, Roman Abramovich let him go before the quarterfinal against Ferguson’s United that, if he lost, he wouldn’t bother coming back. He fell (2-1), went to work and still completed the course, but with the expiration date marked.
It was even worse at PSG, his next team. He had already secured a place in the round of 16, although that did not matter to the Qatari management, which before closing the league against Porto warned him twice that if he did not win that inconsequential duel, he would be finished, according to Ancelotti himself assured in his book calm leadership. He won (2-1), however, that clash broke the relationship and at the end of the season he left. And Bayern’s departure in 2017 was consummated after a 3-0 in Paris, still in September. “We should have waited a little longer,” the chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, later confessed.
In any case, no defeat like that in Istanbul against the grid, and it didn’t cost him his neck. The former Milanista president, Silvio Berlusconi, for whom he still does not hide his sympathy today, has been his longest-lasting godfather, to whom he granted the favor of breaking the privacy of the locker room and allowed him to enter the Old Trafford booth at the moments before the 2003 final that they beat Buffon’s Juventus on penalties, who could not stop two maximum penalties because Dida saved three. That agonizing day in Manchester was his first Champions League summit.
For his second, in 2007, he almost had to chase Liverpool. According to him, literally. Two years after one of the most famous defeats in the competition -if not the most-, he wanted (and needed) to cross paths with the English team again to drop ballast. “I was pending the results of Liverpool. They wanted them to win to meet us in the final. My head was with Milan, but my heart was with Liverpool, ”he confessed.
His third laurel came with the miracle of Ramos and his fourth, surfing the epic wave of the Bernabéu. Two months before this latest conquest, he received a 0-4 loss from Barcelona in the League and, when he entered the dressing room, he tried to encourage the troops by assuring the players that they would win the Champions League, despite the fact that they still had a long way to go. travel. This is his fourth season at Madrid and he has won two long apricots with the whites. This Wednesday he will look for his sixth private final and, whatever happens at the Etihad, he will surpass Ferguson’s mark.
Curiously, after those initial experiences at La Reggiana and Parma, and before starting his sequence of successes, at the beginning of the century in Italy he came to earn a “fame as a magnificent loser, as a man of almost” for two league runner-ups with Juve. , as his former boss at Milan Adriano Galliani recalled.
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