Franco BARESI

(Milan)
baresi_03.jpg (23942 bytes)It was kind of weird the last 31th of August to look around and not to find Franco Baresi after 20 seasons.
A so great champion who marked an epoch and meant much more than what his figures can say.
Franco Baresi was a sort of football handbook: his runs, his tackles, his throws, his competitive charge, his attitude.
He could softly touch the ball but also sweep his foes with energy, mixing toughness with talent, and overcaming any obstacle.
Baresi was a true champion who exactly realized when his career had to be stopped before time could consume his brightness.
He quitted the last 23th of June.
His Milanms shirt number 6 was promptly retired and the story of this Milanms symbol became a sort of legend that we can now re-read.
The story goes that his first juvenile coaches said: lhe is a perfect player but hesitant in his speech.n
He was still a youngster and his first, older teammates (Rivera, Albertosi, Morini and Capello) called him lpiscininn.
He wasnmt 18 yet and his poor talkativeness made reporters troubled.
Interviewing Baresi was a kind of torment, long minutes waiting for answers that never came.
A special group of reporters finally emerged: lthe interpreters of Baresims gruntsn.
Usually Franco takes his time before answering by clearing his voice, but as often he doesnmt say anything after his throat sounds ready.
The point is that lKaiser Franzn (a nickname that comes from his football similarity to Franz Beckenbauer), has always thought that his performances didnmt need any vocal addition or explanation.
In short, if his grunt was coupled with a shy smile, the answer was easy to predict:nImm satisfied for my teammates, my coaches, myself and even for Milanms management. We all had a good dayn.
Otherwise, if he slightly knitted his eyebrows, the answer to expect was:nImm very proud to be a Milan's player.
A real tradition of interpreters developed and some reporters became able to write long interviews with Baresi just running into him for a few seconds at Milanello's bar.

When Franco was a teen-ager with blond hairs and a soft, almost ephebic style, his opponents tended not to take him very seriously.
As a result he often answered by violent tackles that risked to leave his foes crippled for the rest of their lives.
His talent became more and more evident and increased along with his reputation of being a tough guy.
However at least a couple of times in his career, this Clint Eastwood of football showed his tears.
The first time was at Cesena after the last game of the 1981-82 seasons: lI cried like many of my teammates inside the locker-room.n
Tough but with a big heart. A red and black heart.
The second time was the 17th of July 1994.
After getting injured the 23th of June at the Giants Stadium against Norway and after having his meniscus operated he realized a sort of miracle and came back for the final game of the World Cup against Brazil in Pasadena.
He played a great match but missed the first of those crucial penalties that assigned the Cup after the regular game and the overtime had finished even.
Emotion prevented him to achieve his last great Title.
Massaro and Baggio missed their penalties too, and everybody remembers a crying Baresi wandering across the midfield under Californiams sunshine.

Baresi built his tough personality when still was a teen-ager.
When he was 14 he lost both his parents and Milan immediately became his new family.
He always had a huge desire to have his own children and got married very young but only six years ago he finally crowned his dream.
His wife Maura suffered several miscarriages and when Edoardo was finally born the 26th of Jenuary 1991 at Mexico City, malicious rumours immediately started about his dark complexion.
Maura told her sadness to some Italian Magazine.
She said: lThose rumours started a few weeks after Edoardo was born.
I know all of them, even those that Franco didnmt tell me, about bad slogans and banners that were exposed in several stadiums.
Football fans fight each other, sometimes kill each other, I hoped they at least showed some respect to maternity, especially when it is so endured.

Franco and Maura love children so much that last Jenuary they decided to adopt a two years old Russian child born in Moscow.
They called him Gianandrea and made a great party.
Edoardo now has a brother to play with and to learn how to become a leader..

Several years ago, being 21 and already a Milanms pillar, Baresi suddenly found himself leaving Milanello by a wheel-chair.
A mysterious illness left him so weak that he couldnmt even walk.
Things went worse and worse and immediately a rumour spread about Baresi having cancer.
Actually after 3 months Franco was ready to come back, stronger than ever and victorious over that rare virus he was affected by.
A virus that tried to challenge Franco, but Franco proved to be so tough that virus never came back.

SCHEDA TECNICA

Born: Travagliato (Brescia)
Date of birth: 8 maggio 1960
Role: difensore, m. 1,76 - kg. 70
1st match in Serie A: 23 aprile 1978
(Verona-Milan 1-2)

Season Team Serie Played Gol
1977-78 Milan A 1
1978-79 Milan A 30
1979-80 Milan A 28
1980-81 Milan B 31
1981-82 Milan A 18 2
1982-83 Milan B 30 4
1983-84 Milan A 21 3
1984-85 Milan A 26
1985-86 Milan A 20
1986-87 Milan A 28 2
1987-88 Milan A 27 1
1988-89 Milan A 33 2
1989-90 Milan A 30 1
1990-91 Milan A 31
1991-92 Milan A 33
1992-93 Milan A 29
1993-94 Milan A 31
1994-95 Milan A 28
1995-96 Milan A 31 1
1996-97 Milan A 26
1996-97 Milan A 26


baresi_01.jpg (28093 bytes)Baresi played 2 seasons in Serie B.
Many Serie A Clubs lured him but he didnmt quit Milan and fans never forgot it.
He proved that his refined style could be successful also among the rude players of serie B, a division where often toughness is more important than talent.
He led Milan to come back in Serie A, playing basically as a sweeper but eventually emerging as the real playmaker of his team.
Many started saying that he should play as a midfielder, especially with the national team where the starting sweeper was the mythical Scirea.
As a matter of fact Italyms Coach Enzo Bearzot finally embraced that theory.
Bearzot was the first to bring Baresi with the national team and Franco was part of that wonderful group that won the World Cup in 1982, but he just experienced that Championship from the stands.
Later, however, Bearzot decided to try and lined up both Scirea and Baresi at the same time.
The first game was played at Perugia (22th of december 1983) against Cyprus, and altogether that experimennt lasted for other 6 games, until it was clear to everybody that the mythical Enzo had made a blunder.
Shortafter, then, Bearzot proved to be in total confusion replacing Scirea with Righetti (a Romams player who spent the most part of his career between Lecce and Pescara) instead of utilizing Baresi, finally in his right position.
After the disastrous 1986 World Cup, however, Vicini replaced Bearzot and Baresi became the undiscussed sweeper of the national team.

Another chapter of Baresi's career regards Arrigo Sacchi.
Since the beginning their relationship went through some problem.
In the first place Sacchi wanted Milan to play like lhisn Parma and obliged his new, bored, players to watch his instructional videotapes.
In the second place Sacchi was personally brought to Milan by Berlusconi who let the players know that he would pay them in proportion to their performances and results.
Baresi and his teammates protested but nothing changed.
As a matter of fact in 1987, Alberto Costa (a Corriere della serams reporter and a Baresims friend and biographer) wrote that Franco wanted to leave Milan because he didnmt share Berlusconims mentality: much money in exchange of an absolute commitment and efficiency.
Sacchims arrival, then, made things even worse.
For exemple Baresi didnmt approve of Sacchims exasperating use of videotapes.
Each Milanms player was supposed to learn from Parmams games and Franco was requested to assimilate Signorinims performances.
When Milan started winning, however, things partially changed and Franco overcame his prejudices becoming a Berlusconims admirer.
His relationship with Sacchi, instead, remained controversial and at some point Berlusconi was forced to satisfy his playersm request to dismiss the coach and his annoying systems.

baresi_02.jpg (25292 bytes)Franco however still had to deal with Sacchi as a coach of the national team.
One year of stages and lessons about team-work revealed themselves to be enough to push Baresi to quit.
Shortafter Italy risked to lose in Cagliari against Switzerland, when Sacchi lined up the unusual central defensive couple Lanna-Costacurta and Italian Federal President Matarrese had almost a panic attack seeing their mistakes.
Matarrese in person decided to make a big economical offer to convince Baresi to come back, facing an averse Sacchi who, as usual, claimed that strategies and not talents produce results.
After all Baresi accepted to come back and led Italy to another big challenge.
However, after losing the 1994 World Cup and after the ugly game of Maribor against Slovenia, Baresi quitted, this time for good.
Seven years of Sacchi were enough.
Last December then Franco and Arrigo found themselves once again together to help a struggling Milan to revive, but results were very disappointing and at the end of the season Baresi realized that the moment to terminate his career as a player was finally arrived.
Altogether he played 716 official games with Milan (more than anybody else before) and 81 with the national team.
He retired showing the same timing he showed as a player.
He became the vice-president and the juvenile programms coordinator of lhisn Milan, and is ready to face his older brother Giuseppe, who played with Inter for a long time and now coaches one of the juvenile teams of the black and blue Club.
Baresims new challenge is now to find a young heir of himself, but, in any case, for Milanms fans, there will be always, just one, Franco Baresi.

 

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