Rio de Janeiro - Dutch veteran Clarence Seedorf has confirmed on Tuesday he is taking over as coach of AC Milan, replacing Massimiliano Allegri.
seven-times European champions sacked Allegri after a shock weekend
loss to Sassuolo and have turned to Seedorf, who won a host of honours
in Milan as a player.
Seedorf, 37 and the first man to win the
Champions League with three different clubs after stellar spells with
Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan, has spent the past 18 months with Rio-based
But he said now was the time to take up a new challenge -- and hang up his boots.
am going to stop playing after 22 years. It was a difficult night --
but I am satisfied with what I have achieved in my career," said
Seedorf, who will return to Italy on a two-and-a-half year deal.
experience of a year and a half (with Botafogo) helped me grow and will
help me in the next stage of my life -- as coach of Milan," Seedorf
told reporters in Rio.
"When the chairman asked me, I couldn't say
no," said Seedorf, who said he made up his mind Monday but pondered
overnight the wrench of retiring from playing -- a sensation which
brought a "flashback" of his career.
Seedorf said now was not the
time to talk about how he would instruct Milan to play but did reject
any idea he would find the transition from pitch to dugout difficult.
"Being in charge of former teammates won't cause a problem -- on the contrary, I know them," he said.
"I am very happy to have this dream chance to go back," he added.
a player for the Rossoneri at the San Siro, Seedorf was a figurehead,
making more than 400 appearances and winning the Serie A title twice as
well as a pair of Champions League crowns.
The Surinam-born star
had his first taste of European glory with Ajax in 1995, a second
success with Real Madrid three years later and he then won club
football's top prize with Milan in 2003 and 2007.
added a Rio league crown to his stellar CV last year, had been expected
to prolong his stay in Brazil but was widely believed to have had a
clause inserted into his Botafogo deal allowing him to leave for a top
His performances in midfield helped Botafogo to
qualify for the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of
Europe's Champions League, which starts on January 29, for the first
time in 17 years.
Botafogo had been hoping he would stay on for
that event -- but finally allowed him to move on with their blessing as
Milan plumped for him ahead of former striker Filippo Inzaghi, the
club's youth coach.
"There is a feeling of sadness," said Botafogo chairman Mauricio Assumpo, who saluted Seedorf for his efforts.
is sad to see you stop playing, yet there is pleasure that the
footballing world is gaining you as a coach. The others will now have to
chase after Milan," Assumpco predicted.
Seedorf said he was sure Botafogo would survive and prosper in his absence.
"I had a great time with Botafogo and I am sure they will acquit themselves very well in the Libertadores," he predicted.
His next challenge is sizeable, however.
Sunday's reverse to Sassuolo, Milan stand just 11th in the table, 30
points behind leaders Juventus and 20 behind Napoli, who occupy the
third and last qualifying spot for the Champions League.
four-goal salvo from Sassuolo's 19-year-old starlet Domenico Berardi
sealed Allegri's fate -- club vice-president Barbara Berlusconi launched
a verbal attack on the team afterwards and demanded change in the
Allegri took over Milan in time for the 2010/2011 season and won the title in his first season in charge.
finished runners-up the following season but Allegri saw his side
decimated as a host of key players -- among whom Zlatan Ibrahimovic,
Thiago Silva and Seedorf himself -- all left the club.
overhaul needed and the club's poor first half of the campaign, Seedorf
professed himself "calm about the challenge which awaits me."