The owner of Italian giants AC Milan is said to have considered bringing tennis superstar Novak Djokovic on board as the Serie A club’s mental coach. The record-breaking Grand Slam holder is a self-confessed Rossoneri fanatic – but an approach eventually did not transpire.
The San Siro outfit’s American owner Gerry Cardinale very nearly adopted what would have been an unconventional approach in his quest to return the legendary club to its former glories. Looking to instill a winning mentality within the Milan ranks, the RedBird CEO was weighing up turning to the Serbian master.
After acquiring the seven-time European champions for £950million back in August 2022, the club have not yet added to their tally of 19 league championships. In a potential power play that would have sent shockwaves through the sport, Djokovic was considered as someone who could help the team’s players to develop an elite mentality.
That is according to La Repubblica newspaper, who claim that Cardinale gave significant thought to preparing a hypothetical approach three months ago. The report alleges that the US tycoon would have offered the current world No. 1 the chance to give motivational speeches to the Milan players.
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However, the report explains that talks never got underway between both parties, with the Rossoneri having reached third place in the current Serie A standings without him. Still, it remains to be seen whether Milan fan Djokovic would have accepted any proposals from RedBird in this regard.
What is for certain is the Serbian’s love for the iconic San Siro outfit, with the 36-year-old having previously confessed that he picked up a love for the game through his footballer father. He once claimed: “I’m a big fan of Milan and I’ll always be. For me, football is second only [to] tennis. My father was a professional footballer, and at home, we always watch the Rossoneri’s games with great interest.”
He also once spoke of his close relationship with ex-Milan superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, adding: “I am friends with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. We often talked about my situation in Australia. He also supported me publicly, which I really appreciate. I’m a Milan fan and we hope to win the Scudetto this year.”
The last time Milan won Serie A in the 2021-22 season, Djokovic also expressed his joy with a post on Instagram as he basked in the team’s success, posting: “Thanks for the birthday gift. We are the champions of Italy. Well done guys,” before being videoed chanting the name of manager Stefano Pioli in September 2022.
As far as his football credentials go, the Serbian superstar admitted previously that the game was actually his first love – before discovering his aptitude with a racquet in hand. When I was a kid, I always wanted to play football, of course, desire for tennis was stronger.
“So I started playing tennis. I always watched football games at home. Wherever I go, I follow football. This is one of my favourite sports.This is something that I do recreationally just for fun with my team, with my coaches. I like it. It’s a great atmosphere in the team.”