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Gattuso makes 'painful' decision to walk away from AC Milan

08:31 BST 28/05/2019
Gennaro Gattuso Milan
A man who represented the Rossoneri with distinction during his playing days has opted to step down from a demanding role at San Siro

Gennaro Gattuso has stepped down as head coach of AC Milan, with the former Rossoneri midfielder taking the “painful” decision to walk away from the club.

The 41-year-old had been tied to a contract through to 2021.

He has, however, opted to cancel that agreement and pass the managerial baton at San Siro on to somebody else.

Gattuso admits he has not found it easy to sever ties with a side that he spent 13 memorable years with as a player, but he believes change is best for all concerned.

He told Repubblica: “Deciding to leave Milan's bench is not easy. But it's a decision I had to make. 

“There was not a precise moment in which I made it, it was the sum of these 18 months as coach of a team that for me will never be like the others. Months that I lived with great passion, unforgettable months. 

“Mine is a painful but thoughtful choice. 

“Am I giving up a two-year contract? Yes, because my story with Milan can never be a question of money.”

Gattuso had hinted at the end of the 2018-19 Serie A season that he was ready to move on.

He was unable to lead Milan to a top-four finish and qualification for the Champions League.

Having missed out to arch-rivals Inter by a solitary point in that pursuit, the man at the Rossoneri helm admitted that the demands of his job were becoming too much.

Gattuso told DAZN: “I feel I have too much history with this club, I felt more pressure than I probably should have.

“I've barely slept in the past 18 months, mentally I'm in pieces and that is something I must consider.”

He also revealed that he planned to hold discussions with the Milan board, including chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

Gattuso added on his efforts in the season just gone: “I thank the team. Finishing on 68 points gives me pride, even if it hurts that we didn't qualify for the Champions League.

“We made mistakes during the season and, from now on, must make as few as possible, but I believe this was a positive year.

“The biggest regret is that we didn't keep up the same levels of consistency over the past three to four months. We went through too many bad periods.

“I don't agree when I hear people say that my players have grown. Many of them have played well below the levels of their capability, but we're still a team who have quality and potential. I don't know if we can improve on the 68 points we've earned this season. It'll be difficult.”

That challenge will be taken on by someone else.

Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim and Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi are among the early names to have been linked with a move to Milan.

Gattuso, who succeeded Vincenzo Montella at San Siro in November 2017, will be left to weigh up his future options.