After watching his side end their seven-year wait for the Scudetto with a tense goalless draw at AS Roma, AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said that he was "madly happy" and admitted the reality of a title win in his first season in charge of the Rossoneri had yet to sink in. "I don't think I've realised what's happened yet," he said.
Needing a point to secure their 18th league title, Allegri's side held out for a 0-0 draw that left their fans and coach on tenterhooks until the final whistle. "The last five minutes of the game were hard to withstand," said the 43-year-old former Cagliari Calcio coach. "This is a huge satisfaction; I am madly happy and feel very lucky. I don't think I've quite realised yet what's happened yet."
After a long winter, in which Milan had to overcome a number of injury problems and the improving fortunes of city rivals FC Internazionale Milano, who reduced their lead to just two points, the Rossoneri raised themselves again, with a pivotal 3-0 derby success in early April. Since then, their supremacy was never in question and by moving nine points clear of the Nerazzurri, who have three games remaining but an inferior record in head-to-heads, Milan can at last celebrate that long-awaited Serie A title.
"It was unexpected in a way," said veteran midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, who earned Allegri's trust after an inauspicious start under the new coach. "The critics said that we were half-dead, too old, that we didn't have any value; but here we are again celebrating our 18th title. So, for me, this is more than just a Scudetto, this is a big victory. Last season they said that I was useless, but luckily I found the strength to work hard. This title is very important, especially as we have fared better than Inter, who are a great team, and Napoli, who had a great season. Yes, this is definitely a big victory."
Pato, who has scored 14 league goals this season, agreed with his team-mate. "This is a special day, and it's the first time that I have celebrated a Scudetto win," said the 21-year-old striker. Defender Alessandro Nesta, 35, added: "We have been on top for virtually the whole season and we have a good lead so I think we really deserve this title, and we should give most of the credit to Zlatan Ibrahimović and Thiago Silva."
Milan, who were eliminated in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 by Tottenham Hotspur FC, are still on course for a domestic double. Following a 2-2 draw in the semi-final first-leg against US Città di Palermo, the Rossoneri travel to Sicily on Wednesday in their bid to add the Coppa Italia to their Serie A championship.
"I want to thank all the people who have worked with me, the players, who deserved the title, and the club who gave me so many good elements," said Allegri. "For me this is such a beautiful moment; I think that the two key factors that allowed us to win were willingness and respect. All the players deserve this joy, even the ones who didn't play as much as they would have liked."
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.