Kat, it seems you took my post the wrong way or maybe I was a little too harsh. In that case, sorry. I might have ovverreacted to your post and i'm sorry. I am not discussing/doubting your dedication to this forum, but was just not pleased to see you come out of the blue and criticize others. That's all.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Now back to the topic. Enjoy!Another of those memorable Milan gams, from the Forza Milan of November. Translated by me. Enjoy!
Fair enough Bono. Memories of Belgrade, By Carlo Pellegatti.
The Gods help their chosen sons, their prefered heroes. It has always been the case, from the times of Omer and what I am about to share with you here, is truly an Omeric, epic, historic, drammatic and emotional adventure. But first, we have to go back in Time 14 years, on the 8th of November 1988, when the Rossoneri left Malpensa, the international airport of Milano, direction Belgrade. Milan has to play the 2nd leg of the 1/8th finals of the 1988-89 Champions Cup against this Red Star team that managed to tie it 1-1 at San Siro in the first leg. It is a difficult task, as the Yougoslavs have a very competitive and strong team and also due to the fact that a lot of Milan players were not at top physical conditions. Indeed, the precarious conditions had already affected the team in the first leg where Sacchi had to deal with the following: Maldini out due to his military service, Baresi with an ankle problem, Donadoni and Ancelotti with knee problems. In the first leg, Virdis tied the game after the early goal by Stojkovic for Belgrade, but after that, despite some good scoring chances, Milan didn't manage to beat the Red Star keeper Stojanovic. So everyone leaves for Belgrade on that tuesday of November, with a lot of anxiety and tension. Milan risks to go out of the Champions Cup prematurely, a competition from which Milan had been away for too long. Compared from the first leg, Capitan Stubing Sacchi ( for the younger fans, this is an allusion to Capitan Stubing, who's the capitan of the ship from the tv serial "Love Boat") manages to recuperate Chico Evani, but has to renounce at Ruud Gullit, who goes to Yougoslavia as a simple tourist, due to a muscular problem.
The Maracana, the stadium of Belgrade, receives me with the grey colour that envelops everything here. The city is grey, the people's face reflects a kind of sadness, depsite the electrifying atmosphere of a Champions Cup match. I get off the bus reserved for the press, anxious, tense and concentrated like the players. Around 1500 people came from Milano, some by bus, others by special planes. Here I am, in my corner, lost in that huge Maracana, among all these Red Star fans with their flags and their banners with my hope to see a Milan like the one I saw at Napoli on May 1st 1988 (the day when Milan beat Napoli 3-2 in Napoli and surpassed them in the Serie A standings to go onto to win the 1st Scudetto of the Berlusconi era), in fact a strong Milan in a desperate situation. Speaking of desperation, I was slowly filled by desperation when I saw a very solid and concreete Red Star team controlling the match without any big efforts. For the Yougoslavs, a 0-0 draw would have sufficed to get through to the next round, the 1/4 finals and everything seems so easy for the players in Red and White, when Virdis was sent off by the referee Pauly. It is cold, very cold and then, a could, almost like a nebula, covers the whole stands. It is not something temporary, it is for good and lasting, it covers everything, the stands, the fans, the field and the players. Everything. The heavy silence of the crowd and the thick blinding cloud is only transperced and torn by a big roaring in the stands, from our left side, and I imagine it is due to a goal scored for Red Star, by Savicevic, the one that will become, the unforgettable "Carezze del Montenegro", scoring the goal that gives the lead for the Stella Rossa.
It seems to be over for us. The Ragazzi play with 10 men, 1 goal down and I don't have any hopes left because I am too depressed, and that the cloud is becoming bigger and bigger, just like a nebula. At one time, at half time, I look at my left and I am left speechless and moved. I will never forget this moment, worthy of a passage of the Stephen King books, this sensation and feeling only felt by the characters of the film "Fog". From above, the Gods, friends of Milan, are throwing down on the stadium, big black clouds with heavy snow, as if Eolo, the God of the Winds, was sweeping all the air from Hell towards the Maracana stadium of Belgrade. In a very short period of time, we couldn't see anything, absolutely nothing. Players and the ref enter onto the pitch, but the game was suspended. And to be replayed from start the next day, November 9th, at 13.00.
The joy and happiness for the danger just escaped is mixed with a general confusion for the 200 tifosi that didn't bring with them a lot of money, since it was supposed to be a one day stop and back onto the plane to home right after the game. The cold of the Belgrade evening is even more harmful, and there were no more hotels or motels available and it was only due to the miraculous intervention of Paolo Taveggia, the one who became the "Moses" of the twentieth Century for having organized, a few months later the exodus of 80, 000 tifosi from Italy to Barcelona, but also thanks to the collaboration of the head of the Italian press, Guido Susini, the tifosi were able to find an hotel to spend the night before the game of the next day. The cost of the entire operation rose to about 40 million Lire (around US $40,000) that Milan generously and graciously paid.
In the meantime, in another hotel, the Milan medical staff was working hard in order to heal the foot of Ruud Gullit. Without Virdis, sent off, and "Terminator" Ancelotti, suspended for a yellow card, it was vital to recuperate at all costs Il Tulipano Nero (The Black Tulip, Gullit). The two Milan doctors, Monti and Tavana were massaging relentlessly the suffering muscles in order to have Ruud at the very least on the bench. A pale sun warms the few Milan tifosi present at the Maracana, but a great performance from the Boys literally fills them up of joy. It is another Milan compared to 24 hours ago. Franco Baresi plays the best game of his legendary career. He plays almost in front of the defence, guiding all the Rossoneri attacks. After 5 minutes of play, after a shot from Lupetto Mannari, the ball ends up in the net. "Goal, it's a goal!" I scream at the microphone, when I see the ball, going at least by a metre beyond the white line. A Yougoslav player, Sabanadzovic, clears the ball away and the referee, Pauly, says:"No goal, keep on playing!". Incredible! At the 34th minute, a free-kick in the left from Donadoni is sent into the net by "Guido Cavalcanti" Van Basten. The Milan lead will however, not last long, only 4 minutes: Stojkovic ties the game beating Giovanni Galli. Milan dominates. Mannari seems an unstoppable little devil today; the 4 Intouchables of Elliot Ness Baresi are simply fantastic.
At the 43rd minute, the dramma. Vasilijevic and Donadoni go for an aerial challenge and the Red Star player elbows hard the Milan player who loses conscious while still in the air. He falls heavily on the ground. One of the Milan doctors, Dr. Monti intervenes and performs a mouth-to-mouth on him to prevent the player from suffocating. Donadoni is lying unconscious on the grounds and his legs are moving while in the air, almost as if they were kicking something, in a very unnatural way, this is another imagine I will never forget. Fortunately, "Luci a San Siro" (Lights at San Siro, Donadoni's nick, given to him after Berlusconi qualified as being the only Italian able to light up the San Siro) resumes breathing. Gullit replaces him, playing a great match doing lots of sacrifices for the team. After the game, Gullit would be away from the field for about 40 days because his muscles problems only worsened after the game. The game ends tied at 1-1. We go to the dreadful lottery sessions of the penalty kicks. More emotions to come. Stoijkovic scores, "Mahatma" Baresi ties it. Prosinecki scores and Van Basten ties it again. Galli accomplishes the miracle on Savicevic and Evani, with his magical left foot gives the lead to the Rossoneri. Now it's Giovanni Galli's turn again. In front of him, stands Mrkela. Galli jumps and enters into the legend stopping the Red Star player's shot. Now, it's the turn of "Uragano Frankie" (Hurricane Frankie) Rijkaard). His shot is tense, in the corner and unstoppable. Milan wins and goes to the next round, the 1/4 finals and I join the ragazzi in the dressing rooms hugging them all.
The journalists also have had to deal with the lack of hotels and have to manage somehow to spend the night with us. I shared my room with Xavier Iacobelli, at that time, a young chronicher at "La Notte", now directore of "Corriere dello Sport". We are all happy, it's been an incredible adventure. But it is not finished. How is Donadoni doing? Doctor Tavana insists that further controls be performed on him. We found out that he has his jaw fractured, and while on the stretcher, inconscious, hit by stomach cramps and nausea typical of cerebral incidents, he was vomiting constantly, , making Dr. Tavana very anxious. In fact, what Roberto has is a small "edema" on his head that is quickly healed with therapy. When Donadoni finds out that Milan qualified for the next round, he cries. Sacchi pays him a visit in his hospital room, giving him the best wishes of the whole team. The player leaves Belgrade six hours later after the rest of the Milan delegation, in a plane, courtesy of Europe Assistance.
What would remain of the grave injury of Donadoni? Fortunately, for him, nothing, but to football, a lot. Indeed, because as a result of this almost near fatal incident, the Milan medical staff adopts a new resolution: from that day, on every game of Milan, at the San Siro, there's always an anesthetist present. And today, due to a law passed in 1990, after this dramatic experience, an anesthetist specialist is present on all the fields of Serie A.
First game on Wednesday 9 November 1988. Game suspended after 57 minutes due to fog and heavy snow with the score of 1-0 for Belgrade.
2nd game: Red Star - Milan 1-1 after 90 minutes, and after 120 minutes. 2-4 after pks for Milan.
Thursday 10 November 1988.
Red Star: Stojanovic, Najdoski, Vasilijevic, Sabanadzovic, Radovanovic, Juric, Ivanovic, Savicevic, Bursac (51' Mrkela), Stoikovic, Djurovic (73' Prosinecki). Coach: Stankovic.
Milan: G. Galli, Tassotti, P. Maldini, Rijkaard, Costacurta, Baresi, Donadoni (45' Gullit), A. Colombo, Van Basten, Evani, Mannari (115' Cappellini). Coach: Sacchi.
Stoikovic: goal. Baresi: goal.
Prosinecki: goal. Van Basten: goal.
Savicevic: saved. Evani: goal.
Mrkela: saved. Rijkaard: goal.