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Silvio Berlusconi, the memory of Giorgio Porrà

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Silvio Berlusconi, the memory of Giorgio Porrà

In memory of Giorgio Porrà the story of Silvio Berlusconi’s entry into the world of football: the sacredness of Milan, his idea of ​​revolution, brilliant intuitions and the obsession with the pursuit of perfection


“And yet, Folly itself assures you, one is all the happier the more his Folly is multiform”.
Erasmus of Rotterdam (“In Praise of Folly”)

The irresistible madness of the first Silvio. That when in February ’86, not even fifty years old, he bought Milan saving them from bankruptcy, he got into the habit of quoting Erasmus of Rotterdam to explain his mission. Which went beyond reality, bordered on utopia. Berlusconi wanted to change football from its foundations, reshape it in his image and likeness, turn it into a great TV show. AND Everyone had to like Milan, not just the Milan fans. Because seducing the world with a game never seen before was the flaming ambition that moved everything. A heresy, for those times, in that football closed in on itself, and in fact many, at the beginning, underestimated Berlusconi, mocked his revolutionary impulses, the urgency of modernity, also linked to language and communication. Well, the next thirty years of triumph around that vision would take root.

“Only Milan is sacred”

The trophies, an avalanche, the logical consequence of an idea that was based on solid assumptions, not only on the lucid scrapping fury of those who intended to build an empire. What if Sacchi’s Milantogether withAjax at Cruyff and al Guardiola’s Barcelonawill forever be remembered among the teams that marked an era (with Arrigo’s principles ceaselessly nourishing all the contemporary avant-gardes), it is also because Berlusconi has never cultivated doubts around his role as enlightened president. Nor spared energy. The club had to have its face, its substance. “All the things I deal with are profane. Only Milan is sacred”. Which for Silvio was an exercise in style and command, as well as a devouring passion. After all it is in football that the most authentic Berlusconi has revealed himself. More than in politics, where he was forced to follow rules, protocols never fully understood. The ball ignited the playful dimension, the competitive one, the nostalgia linked to the memory of the father, of the Rossoneri stars, Gren, Nordhal, Liedholm above all. Then, of course, it is undeniable, football contributed to his political fortunes, it turned out functional consent machine. The success at the polls in ’94 was partly determined by the powerful suggestions released by his Milan, in just 8 years from the risk of disappearing to the top of the world. Although it is true that sometimes that grandeur turned into a double-edged sword. When he sold Kakà to Real, thousands of voters wrote the Brazilian’s name on the ballot, and the message was more or less: “Have you thought more about money than about our dreams? And then we punish you.”

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Football like TV

Berlusconi applied himself to football with the same strategies pursued in his TVs. Even going to treat the players personally, as he did with the divas of the small screen. Same technique, da Great Enchanter. He took Donadoni from Atalanta, his management’s first signing, blowing him to Juve and playing the piano at Villa San Martino for the then president Bortolotti. Which he explained to journalists: “I gave it to him because he invited me to dinner at his house”. And when she sensed the devastating potential of Gullitrushed to Holland from the top management of Philips: “Tell me what you want, I’ll fill the San Siro with him.”

Berlusconi & Sacchi

Cyclone, inexhaustible. Faster than dreams. Even those that are objectively unfeasible. “Mine – she once confessed – has always been to score from Rivera’s Cartesian throw”. AND visionary, Always. As Bags, which made him enjoy even when he gave imperious orders to the players shouting into the megaphone at Milanello. He was his wager, his prophet, he had chosen it, he always defended it, especially the first year when the project was struggling to take off. And above all he indulged their wishes, took them Rijkaardgiving up villages, his South American cue. And also Ancelotti, despite the perplexities related to the bad knee. Result, an orchestral team, a terrific medal table. Eleven players always active, on, with or without the ball, in the service of a superior mission. Watchwords such as zone, pressing, offside, restart, diagonal pronounced with the arrogance of those who knew they had the philosopher’s stone in hand. With the first Champions Cupin May ’89, won in Barcelona by crushing Steaua, to reveal itself the most rewarding success for coach and president.

“Football will never be the same”

It was in the title of L’Equipe after that 4-0. Everything with Sacchi was planned, quoted Bertold Brecht to explain the obsession with the pursuit of perfection: “Without a script there is only carelessness”. Berlusconi liked that Arrigo had established such a close, almost morbid relationship with his creature. That the team unleashed that algebraic fury, son of the tactical rigor of its commander. After all, among the secrets of domination in Europe for four seasons.

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Van Basten diagonals

Era the conflicting relationship of the coach with Van Basten to create some problems for him. Because in the Sacchiano code Marco was not the most important, even if he used his feet like Mozart used his hands. The Dutchman wanted to have fun, even indulging his instinct for the masterpiece. Above all, the coach wanted him to think. Worlds colliding. AND Berlusconi often spent himself bringing them closer together. Like that time at the Bernabeu, April ’89, in the first leg of the Champions Cup with Real Madrid. It ended 1-1 with a flash, magnificent, typical of the Dutchman, with all of Milan expressing themselves at their best. But in the post Sacchi looked very gloomy. “Excuse me, Arrigo, but aren’t you happy? – pressed Silvio – we drew on a pitch where the Italians usually lose, Van Basten scored a divine goal, Real went offside 23 times. What more do you want?”. And Sacchi: “I wish Van Basten had done better a diagonal that didn’t turn out well for him. Here’s what I would like president”. For the record, Milan in the return would have scrambled Real 5-0, with the Dutch punctually among the scorers. The famous perfect game, one of the epochal events in the football novel. And also the apex of Berlusconi’s vision, of his irresistible madness. And never mind if no one, from that evening, remembers Van Basten’s application around the diagonals.


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