The Rossoneri legend says his club remain a global brand and hopes they will commemorate their new shirt by beginning a return to the good times
Captain, legend, one-club man and now Brand Ambassador – Franco Baresi has lived his life in red and black.
Those two colours, and the number 6, have been with him for the 45 years he’s spent locked in an intense, faithful and eternal love with AC Milan.
And so there is nobody better placed to explain what it means to wear the shirt.
“Thinking about the history of this club and what these colours represent, it is certainly a great responsibility and an honor,” said ‘Kaiser Franz,’ speaking exclusively to Goal at the launch of Milan’s new Puma home kit.
“It promotes values, good behaviour, and respect. For me, wearing it was always my goal, a childhood dream come true, and it made me doubly happy because I was always a Rossoneri fan”.
Baresi pulled on many Milan shirts in his time, but one stands above all others for the six-time Serie A winner – his first, which he wore back in April of 1978 in a match against Verona.
“You always remember the shirts [you wore] in finals more than others, but the most important one was from my debut. I remember that shirt fondly. It was very simple, with very narrow stripes, and just the number, and I will always carry it in my heart because it was my first.
A glittering, twenty-year career will forever be remembered after Baresi’s #6 became the first number in both Milan and Italian football history to be retired.
“I remember that evening was very exciting,” he said. “At the event, this gigantic shirt came down, as the club decided to retire it, and that filled me with pride. It was a beautiful gesture.”
Baresi’s relatinship with the club is made all the more special by how increasingly rare it has become. Indeed, being able to pursue a ‘Baresi-like’ career, that symbiotic bond with a single club, now feels like a thing of the past.
“It is certainly much more difficult now, as modern football has changed so much. It was a different game back then, maybe with a little more romance, and a bit of the passion has been lost, but in order to succeed you should hold very high values and have a great sense of belonging, which is not easy [to find].”
Those are the values that Baresi handed down to his teammates over the 15 years he spent wearing the captain’s armband.
“I tried to be responsible, show patience and also be courageous, loyal, and inspire my teammates, never leaving anyone behind, which is a fundamental aspect [of the captaincy].”
And it is also thanks to his legacy and the countless trophies he helped the club win reserves a special love for Milan, both in Italy and abroad.
“I think Milan is still a very important brand, which still has a great charm. In my role now, I travel a lot and I have realised just how much Milan are loved and followed, and I think that is laregly thanks to what the club has in the trophy cabinet, but, above all, how we won, and the emotion we gave to fans who follow us all over the world “.
The hope for the Rossoneri is that they will soon find that sort of success again. Maybe as early as next season, which will open symbolically this weekend, with the launch of the new PUMA shirt that the team will wear for the first time on Saturday evening at San Siro against Cagliari.
“When the season begins, us players, too, were curious to see the new shirt, and I think that is still important today, even more so with the innovation and market research [that goes into a new kit]. It is essential not to lose the tradition and the identity of our colours and our club.”