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Milan promote Leonardo as Ancelotti exits

AC Milan on Sunday replaced coach Carlo Ancelotti with former player and Brazilian World Cup winner Leonardo, who was the club’s technical director.

Ancelotti told Italian Sky Sport TV of his departure following the 2-0 win at Fiorentina that ensured the seven-time European champions finished third and avoided having to play two qualifying rounds to reach next season’s Champions League group stages.

At the same time, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani was announcing his replacement on Rai TV.

Ancelotti, who still had a year to run on his contract, confirmed what had become the worst-kept secret in Italian football in announcing his departure, but he refused to confirm that English side Chelsea would be his destination.

“Today my beautiful Milan adventure has come to an end,” said a visibly emotional Ancelotti.

“Our paths are separating. I spoke after the match to Mr Galliani and we decided to terminate the contract.

“We spoke a while back but the decision was taken at the end of the season and it was mutual. London is not certain as a destination.”

Ancelotti won two Champions League titles, one Serie A crown and the Club World Cup during his eight seasons at Milan but has received heavy criticism in the last two years for failing to mount a serious challenge to champions Inter Milan.

But he will remain a legend at the club where he also won two European Cups as a player, thus becoming one of the few people in history to claim Europe’s premier competition as both player and coach.

He also played for Parma and Roma and coached Reggiana, Parma and Juventus before joining Milan in 2001.

Meanwhile Galliani told Rai: “Leonardo will be the new Milan coach. He will be officially presented tomorrow (Monday) at midday.

“With Ancelotti the story is not finished. We will stay friends, we had eight marvellous years together.

“Carlo and I are very good friends and there were a few tears in the changing rooms.”

Leonardo had long been tipped to take over from Ancelotti, with Friday’s Gazzetta dello Sport reporting that it was a done deal.

The 39-year-old former midfielder and left-back played for the club from 1997-2001, winning the league title in 1999.

He was part of the Brazil squad that beat Italy to win the World Cup in 1994, although he disgraced himself earlier in the tournament by getting sent off against hosts the United States for elbowing Tab Ramos, resulting in a four-game suspension that saw him miss the final.

Leonardo has no previous coaching experience but Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola has proved novices can shine after winning an incredible treble in his debut season in charge of the Catalans.

Sun 31 May, 2009
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