Milan AC began their preparations for the 2002/03 season on Monday as players met at their Milanello training centre.
With the exception of the eleven who played at the FIFA World Cup finals in Korea/Japan - who will return to training on 10 July - the squad has returned to Milan to begin their pre-season training but there are three significant absentees as the club prepare to compete again in Serie A.
Former team captain Franco Baresi has left the Giuseppe Meazza stadium to join Fulham FC where he has taken over as football director and the time has also come to say goodbye to Alessandro Costacurta and Sebastiano Rossi. Both players' contracts ran out in the summer and the club have decided not to offer them new deals as they aim to turn a new page in Milan's history. Without a contract for the coming campaign, both are free either to sign for another club or to bring their long and successful careers to an end.
Costacurta bows out
'Billy' Costacurta joined Milan in 1987 after one season at Monza Calcio in Serie C, and has since played 386 Serie A matches scoring two goals for Milan. In his 15 seasons at the San Siro, the central defender played under coaches such as Arrigo Sacchi (1987-91 and 1997), Fabio Capello (1991-96 and 1997-98), Oscar Washington Tabarez (1996), Alberto Zaccheroni (1998-2001), Fatih Terim (2001) and Carlo Ancelotti (2001-02).
A place in history
The 36-year old won six league titles, four Italian Super Cups, three European Champion Clubs' Cups, three UEFA Super Cups and two European/South American Cups and has thus already earned a place in the football history books even though his career might not be over. At international level, he earned 59 caps for the Italian national team, scoring two goals. He was part of the Italy side which reached the World Cup final in 1994, but Costacurta could not take part after being suspended for picking up one yellow card too many.
Rossi only joined Milan in 1990, but his career with the Rossoneri has been almost as impressive as Costacurta's. With five league titles, three Italian Super Cups, one European Champion Clubs' Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and one European/South American Cup he is one of the most successful goalkeepers in Italian football history. The 38-year old has played 345 Serie A matches with Milan and Cesena AC.
It is expected that Costacurta and Rossi might not be the last players from Fabio Capello's wonder team to leave the club. Demetrio Albertini, who was ruled out from the World Cup due to injury, might also be interested in making a change after having spent eleven seasons wearing the red and black. It was thought that he might move to Fulham to join his former team-mate Baresi. However, the latest rumours circulating suggest newly promoted Spanish Primera División Club Atlético de Madrid as his final destination.
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