Massimo Ambrosini will lead out AC Milan in tonight's UEFA Super Cup in Monaco "with a heavy heart" following the death of Sevilla FC's Antonio Puerta.
Massimo Ambrosini will lead out AC Milan for the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla FC "with a heavy heart" following the death of the Spanish club's midfielder Antonio Puerta. "It's a strange feeling for me," said the Italian international. "I should be experiencing something wonderful and special personally but I cannot forget what has happened and it will be a moving experience playing tomorrow."
With a knee injury ruling regular captain Paolo Maldini out of the opening exchanges of the season, Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti had little hesitation in handing the armband to the reliable midfielder. Ambrosini wasted little time in repaying that faith as Serie A kicked off at the weekend, scoring a 21st-minute opener at Genoa CFC before Kaká's two first-half goals completed a 3-0 victory. By that time, though, Puerta was in a critical condition in hospital having suffered a heart attack during Sevilla's Primera División defeat of Getafe CF. He never recovered and died on Tuesday.
"We all feel grief and surprise at what has happened," said Ambrosini, an unsung hero of Milan's UEFA Champions League success last term. "It was up to Sevilla to make the decision to play the Super Cup and they decided to go ahead with it - perhaps this is the best way to pay tribute to Puerta. We must play in a committed way even if the match has lost some of its attraction, but we don't know what our mindset will be. It will be a very new experience for all of us - a victory or defeat will not have the same meaning as under normal circumstances."