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Unique stories

Carlo Ancelotti

"Drinking a glass of Masseto is like scoring in a goal in the final Champions League match"

When should a bottle of Masseto be opened?
Masseto is a wine to be enjoyed on important occasions, but at the same time opening a bottle creates its own special occasion.

What is your relationship with wine?
I grew up in the Lambrusco wine area, and so when I was young that’s what was always on the family table and that’s the wine I knew. Then my professional career started me travelling, and I discovered other wines. But I learned too that there are wines and wines. I drank Masseto for the first time in 2010. The bottle was a gift from the president of a club I was managing. I’m no wine expert, but I am a wine lover, and that wine was a real revelation. From that moment on, I pay much more attention to what I am drinking.

When do you like to drink wine?
Generally on important occasions. In England, for example, after a match, it’s the custom to drink wine together with the team that you’ve just played, with all the staff, too, everyone together. The home-team manager selects the wine and sets up the “tasting” for the opposing team. It’s a moment to calm down and reflect a bit, both on the win and on the loss. I loved drinking wine with Sir Alex Ferguson, who is extremely knowledgeable about Italian wines, including Masseto. When I was with Manchester, wine really tasted of victory, at least for me. And I don’t have to tell you which wine that was.

How do you handle a victory? And a defeat.
A victory feels great, but it passes quickly. A defeat feels terrible, and it sticks in your throat a long time. When there is a loss, I carefully analyse all the details of the game, learn from the mistakes and try to bounce back quickly. The great thing about football is the opportunity it gives you to start over again, even though the tendency is that a defeat motivates you more than a win. You have to always think about just one thing: the next match. If you win, on the other hand, you have to do the opposite: find something that should be remembered. After the Champions League victory, for example, we told jokes all night long. The important thing psychologically is to fix that win in your mind, so that you can remember it later.

What example do you give your players?
The horse. If the horse refuses to jump an obstacle, you have two choices. You can go behind him and apply the whip, to make him jump , but you could get kicked doing that. Or you could go around the other side of the obstacle and use a carrot, something sweet that he likes, to attract the horse to you. Both methods get the same result, but with two completely opposing emotional experiences. Each of us knows when to apply one method, and when the other. What satisfies you about your work? The greatest satisfaction for a manager is when he wins admiration for the kind of game that he has succeeded in instilling in his team. That game is his business card, it displays his own character, his personality. I don’t think there can be any greater sense of achievement in life than turning a dream into a reality, and that’s certainly true in my profession. You take a concept of a play style that initially only you have in mind, and you shape eleven players with it, until you see them move, play, and win. It’s your game, it is you. You recognise yourself in what you have created, and now everyone can take pleasure in it. What would you not do in your life? My father was a farmer, and he passed on to me his love for the land. If I had to go back, instead of a degree in electronics, I would study agronomy. And besides, when I was studying, I had to go a long way to get to school, but the agronomy institute was close to home.

What was your greatest heart-stopping moment?
I’m a truly lucky guy, and I have had great ‘maestros’ in my life, from Nils Liedholm to Arrigo Sacchi. The first was my mentor when I was playing with Roma, and for Sacchi I was initially a player and then became assistant manager for the ‘Nazionale di Calcio Italiana’. There were plenty of heart-stopping moments. But what I like to remember most was when I was captain of Roma and had to take my maturità exam. I was escorted right up to the examiners, and the whole city was cheering for me. I received the degree, with a score of 44/60, which was immensely gratifying for my family and for all the fans.

How do you go about making decisions before a match?
I don’t like to stand apart, I love lively exchanges, hearing different opinions - from the people I trust. I have great fellow team members and colleagues, who have always followed my career. I listen to what they have to say, evaluate everything, then I make my choice. In that way I am sure to have made the right decision.

How to you motivate your players before a match?
I leave nothing to chance. First, I prepare a 15-minute video clip summarising the playing style of our opponents. Then I work on the players’ human side, since it’s always better to make them co-responsible instead of just imposing my ideas on them. You have to know how to coax out the best from people, and you have to know the keys to doing that.

And your book?
I wrote ‘Preferisco la Coppa’ together with Alessandro Alciato, and it’s full of anecdotes about my personal and professional experiences. There’s an English edition, too, ‘Carlo Ancelotti: The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius’. Between Italy and England it has sold about 100,000 copies, so it’s selling well. All of the proceeds will go to the Fondazione Borgonovo’s work against ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which I think is the least I can do.

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