Filippo Inzaghi Sets New Goals as a Promising Coach

Anthony LopopoloFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2014

AC Milan forward Filippo Inzaghi celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Novara, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, May 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Luca Bruno/Associated Press

The very thing Filippo Inzaghi knew how to do best was at first quite hard for him to teach.

The man knew how to score goals—even if he wasn’t the most technically gifted player. His timing was perfect.

Roberto Carlos could not explain why. According to FourFourTwo, the Brazilian said: "He is the man who sorts everything out – even though it’s difficult to lay your finger on what it is exactly that he’s got!”
Inzaghi would find those vacant spaces in the box, and he would score—whether he was offside or not.

But he acted on instinct. Every goal to him was “like a mystical experience,” he told FourFourTwo.

He wants his players to play with the same hunger. As a coach of AC Milan’s youth squad, Inzaghi has tried to show just how he broke the defence, how he scored those late winners and dramatic openers. And it’s difficult. Inzaghi said in a December interview with L’Equipe (h/t ESPNFC):

I'm trying to teach it to my players, but I'm still looking for the way to do it. In fact, the sense of positioning, anticipation, is something very natural. I always knew where the ball was going to drop. But I have plenty of other things I can also teach the boys.

The 40-year-old Inzaghi is learning on the job, and he could yet get a chance at the pro level next season. He has his UEFA pro licence, and he drew his first professional contract offer from Sassuolo in January. He could even take over the AC Milan job. The Italian media continue to count the days left on the bench for Clarence Seedorf, as reported by Football Italia.

Even Parma, according to La Repubblica (h/t Football Italia), is thinking about Inzaghi, should their current coach, Roberto Donadoni, leave at the end of the season.

Just as he was as a striker, Inzaghi is in demand. Maybe it is his singular desire to win at all costs. He celebrated every goal like a title winner, and he wrote in his coaching thesis (h/t Steve Amoia of soccer that “I cried when I won but never when I lost.” He understands the emotions of the game, and he understands the stakes.

Marco Vasini/Associated Press

Inzaghi is one of several former Milan players of his generation to take an interest in coaching—along with Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso, Gianluca Zambrotta, Hernan Crespo, Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta and Mark van Bommel. Perhaps it is not just that Milan have attracted the best of leaders in the game, they have helped to cultivate them.

And perhaps it is the Carlo Ancelotti effect. That man had an immense impact on one Paolo Maldini, one of the greatest defenders in the game. In the foreword of Ancelotti’s book, The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius, it is Maldini who fills the first pages with praise. He says Ancelotti brought the “highest quality of life” at Milan. “He holds in all his worries and pressures,” writes Maldini, “and so the team preserves its tranquility. And goes on to win. And win some more.”

Inzaghi holds Ancelotti in the same esteem. Ancelotti is his “reference,” said Inzaghi in that same interview with L'Equipe. “The man and his method of working marked my whole career.”

While his former team-mate Seedorf has suffered through the uncertainty of modern-day management, Inzaghi has kept a lower profile, growing with his young players. He could have accepted the offer from Sassuolo, but Milan CEO Adriano Galliani said no.

“If I had been given freedom of choice,” Inzaghi said in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia), “I probably would have decided otherwise.”

Inzaghi has won everything, and he is preparing for another successful journey.