I will never forget the sight. He was 17 years old, had just won the CL with Ajax and in the post match interview in the dressing room, Clarence sat next to Rijkaard. By then, Rijkaard was a veteran. His last game of professional football just behind him. And Clarence put his hand on Rijkaard’s knee and said to the interviewer: “Frank played a really mature game tonight…”
Or something or other…
And I knew then and there: Seedorf is a legend in the making. His talent was already widely covered in different tv specials and sports programs. His coach Louis van Gaal already felt he was too difficult to coach and his team mates called Seedorf a “wise old soul”.
This kid was special.
And he would remain special. Winning a series of CL trophies, playing for tremendous clubs and winning praise and respect from top analysts, coaches and players.
In his last days as a pro player – with Botafoga in Brazil – he still dazzled the world regularly with goals, assists and velvety touches.
But when Lady B called, Clarence picked up the phone.
Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter Barbara is AC Milan’s marketing director. Officially, that is. In real life, she is the power behind the throne. Or on the throne.
Clarence and Lady B
Allegri has had an impressive run with AC Milan and is probably a very good coach. But AC Milan needs something more than that. AC Milan needs a top coach, a super star coach. A man with charisma, with bravado and magic in his aura.
Like Pep Guardiola at Bayern, or Mourinho at Chelsea. AC Milan wants a rock star. And with Clarence, it got just that.
AC Milan wants to go back to being the best in the world. It’s not longer Galliani who will steer the ship. He might still drive his Audi Q7 to Milanello but he’s not driving the club anymore. Formally, the vice chairman is still the top man, but in real life he’s not.
The 29 year old Barbara is in charge of the big clean up in Milan. She called Clarence for the job and Clarence clearly picked up the phone.
They call her Lady B. The former philosophy student and business woman. In 2011 she suddenly was projected into the Management Board of AC and kept her cool in the background. Reporter Donati: “This is clearly a revolution. Barbara and Clarence are modelling a new AC Milan together. ”
AC Milan has dropped to the mid range of the Serie A standings and after losing 4-3 against Sassuolo this weekend, Barbara scoffed “this can’t go on like this”. The blonde beauty, girlfriend of star player Pato by the way, sacked Allegri (Galliani’s man) and called to Brazil.
The club wants to go Dutch. Not unlike Barca in the past and Bayern Munich, in a way. Seedorf is inexperienced, but Sacchi and Capello were inexperienced coaches too, when they started their careers in the 1980s. The Berlusconi’s see Seedorf as a mix of both icons. Seedorf will be a modern, ambitious and gutsy coach, people believe. Real coach Ancelotti about Seedorf’s signing: “AC Milan has always made brave decisions.”
Not everyone agrees though. Altafini calls Seedorf “a big risk. George Weah thinks it’s a perfect plan and Ruud Gullit is looking forward to Clarence in the dug out. The current interim manager Mauro Tassotti, former team mate of Van Basten and Gullit: “Clarence is a big personality. He was a top player but there are no guarantees. The future will show whether Clarence will be a top coach. I will support him all the way, but he obviously knows his way around the club like no other.”
Berlusconi was clear in his vision: “We want to go the Bayern Munich way, with a sniff of Ajax for good measure. Develop your own talents, combined with a couple of world class stars.”
They also want some ex players on key positions. Jaap Stam is the ideal assistant for Seeforf while Hernan Crespo will also assist. The coach of the talents, Filippo Inzaghi is also an option for a bigger role inthe dug out. Like with Ajax and Feyenoord, a good group of ex players in their 30s and 40s.
AC Milan is waiting for new glory. And it will be led by a 37 year old Dutchman, an angry (and dirty) old man and a young blond woman.
Ajax director Edwin van de Sar is not surprised of his moves. “Clarence thinks big. He was always interested in so many things. He owns a club, he owns businesses, he analyses for English tv, he does charity work… He is quite something. I remember him joining the squad at Ajax. He was 15 years old. Legs like trees and a six pack of steel. I was a thin, long worm compared to him. But he was always a coach. He was always leading in talks with the club or the coach, also about tactics. It is quite something for him to get this opportunity.”
Frank de Boer is highly intrigued. “It’s quite a move. AC Milan is taking a risk and so is Clarence. But it fits him. There is hardly time for him to grt adjusted or to think about some tactical plan or to work on a playing style. He needs to deliver immediately. But he is so experienced and he always was coaching, even as a player. He has all the qualities to make it.”
Clarence in tears at his farewell
Urby Emanuelson is looking forward to the coach Seedorf: “I played with him of course and he was important for the team as an extension of the coach. He was always motivating you, coaching you. So I’m not surprised with this step. He helped me a lot here in the beginning and he’s a fabulous guy. I am looking forward to working with him.” Emanuelson will extend his deal with AC Milan, by the way, as he has had meetings with Lady B already about this.
Aad de Mos, former Ajax coach: “Whether you start at Xerxes in Rotterdam or AC Milan, the first four games will determine his career for a bit. If he loses the first four games, he’ll get criticism. It’s as simple as that. I am not sure if he is a good coach. Some players have it from day 1. Frank de Boer, Pep Guardiola, Louis van Gaal. They have the ability to communicate with players, they are intelligent and are good observers. Clarence is like that too.”
Seedorf is not totally inexperienced, as he used his iPad and the coach whistle at Botafoga regularly. He would show his team mates specific situations and would work through them on the training pitch.
He was in tears at the press conference when he announced his exit. The press conference was televised live in Brazil and with a chopper flight to the club he said his farewells to coaches and players. The Dutch Maestro as they called him there leaves quite a legacy in Brazil. And not just as a player. But also as a human being, with ” his culture, politeness, compassion and professionalism”.
Willem van Hanegem coached Seedorf at the EC 2004. “I really wish him all the best. And I am keen to see how he’ll do. He has worked with so many great coaches throughout his career, it will be great to see how he will work. People in Holland sometimes ridicule him but no Dutch player can match his palmares. I worked with him and thoroughly enjoyed our discussions about football. He is a nice guy and I hope he’ll get Milan back to playing football.”
Willem and Clarence worked together in Oranje. It was never a happy or successful marriage. As a player that is. Who knows, we might already dream of Seedorf as National Team Coach. Why not…?
Clarence New Boss. Really not the same as the Old Boss….