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Soccer: Seedorf poised to take over at AC Milan

Former Netherlands midfielder set to return to club as coach

14 January, 18:47
 Soccer: Seedorf poised to take over at AC Milan

(By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, January 14 - Clarence Seedorf confirmed Tuesday that he is set to return to his former club AC Milan to take over as coach.

The former Netherlands midfielder, who has played for Brazilian side Botafogo since leaving Milan in 2012, said he will hang up his boots to devote himself fully to the new role.

Milan, who are 11th in Serie A and trail leaders Juventus by 30 points at the season's half-way mark, sacked coach Massimiliano Allegri on Monday after Sunday's humiliating 4-3 defeat to promoted Sassuolo.

"I'm here to announce that after 22 years I'm going to stop playing," Seedorf, 37, told a news conference in Brazil.

"This experience of a year and a half (at Botofago) has enabled me to grow a lot and it will help me in my next step, which will be as coach of Milan".

Seedorf helped Milan win two Serie A titles, two Champions League crowns and a Club World Cup, among other honours, during a 10-year stint as a player with Milan from 2002 to 2012. He is expected to land in Italy on Thursday to take over the seven-time European champions.

He has no experience of being in charge of a top-level side and does not have his coaching badges yet, so he will have to be flanked by assistant coach Mauro Tassotti until the end of this season.

Many of Seedorf's former team mates and coaches have said they think he will be ready for the challenge even though he is a novice coach.

Milan's fans may be less enthusiastic.

Many complained last season when the club owner Silvio Berlusconi appeared tempted to sack Allegri following a poor start to the campaign and replace him with the Dutchman.

But it is not an unprecedented move. Fabio Capello was also basically a novice coach at the senior level when he was first put in charge of Milan in 1991.

He went on to help Milan win four Serie A crowns and a Champions League and then become one of the sport's most successful bosses.

"When Berlusconi called me yesterday, I couldn't say no," said Seedorf, who was one of the Italian ex-premier's favourite players when he was at Milan.

"I hope to reach the level of competing at the Club World Cup with Milan.

"If I had been able to play for five more years, I would have stayed here, because Botafogo have a young, competitive squad.

"But a player's career is not eternal. I've won everything and soccer has given me a lot, but now the time has come (to stop playing)". Seedorf was the first footballer to win the European Champions Cup with three different sides. As well as winning it twice with Milan, he also lifted the trophy with Ajax in 1995 and Real Madrid in 1998.

He is a product of Ajax Amsterdam's renowned youth system.

He made his league debut at the age of 16 in 1992, showing remarkable technical intelligence, acceleration and ball control.

He won his first Netherlands cap two years later and has collected 87 caps.

He won two championships, a Dutch Cup and a European Cup with Ajax before moving to Genoa club Sampdoria in 1995.

After an impressive first season in Serie A, Real Madrid scooped him up a year later. He stayed in Spain for four years, adding another league championship, a second Champions League medal and an Intercontinental Cup to his list of honours.

In 2000 he returned to Italy to play for Inter Milan.

He failed to find his form in an Inter shirt and moved across town in the summer of 2002 to start a glorious spell in Milan's red-and-black colours.

"I always have an intense relationship with my job and when I sign a contract I always give 100% and that club is always in my heart," Seedorf said.

"Obviously, the club I stayed longest at is Milan. It's normal that my relationship with that club is something special".

He will take over a side who are out of the Serie A title race and look unlikely to be able to finish in the zone to qualify for Europe's premier club competition, as they trail third-placed Napoli by 20 points. But they are also the only one of Serie A's three representatives to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League and face Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the last 16.