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Dejan Savicevic, the poetics of genius

What is the Genius? It is imagination, intuition, glance and speed of execution. In a word, Dejan Savicevic.

August 15th 1994 in Milanello is an apparently calm day. Fabio Capello trains the "Invincibles", grinds success after success in Italy, but in Europe he doesn't seem to have the same unbeatable ferocity. The Rossoneri team lost a strange European Cup final to Marseille in 1993 in Munich. But now he is preparing to fly to Athens, Greece, to challenge Johann Cruyff's Barcelona. President Silvio Berlusconi, "His Emittenza of him", goes to Milanello. He has recently become Prime Minister, his detachment from the world of football with a consequent approach to politics is now evident. But his AC Milan is an affair of the heart and so, despite having to desert the final in Athens due to the vote for the trust of his government in the Senate, he decides to go and encourage the team personally.

Athens Eve

AC Milan is given up for dead in the press. The Blaugrana are defined as a "dream team", Johan Cruijff is sure to win. In addition, captain Baresi and Billy Costacurta are missing due to disqualification. Capello has to reinvent the defense and thus prepares, after several experiments, an unprecedented quartet in front of Sebastiano Rossi: Tassotti, Galli, Maldini, Panucci. In midfield, the dams will be Marcel Desailly, who arrived from Marseille in the autumn, and a very young Demetrio Albertini. On the flanks the quality of Boban and Donadoni. Is ahead? With Van Basten out of order, still fighting with a bad knee, there are Massaro's goals and Dejan Savicevic's imagination.

Savicevic, the protégé of the president

The latter had already won the Champions Cup a few years earlier with the Red Star of Belgrade. He, a Slav, a pupil of Berlusconi, enchanted the Balkans and Europe with his immense talent, but initially found it difficult to settle in Milan. He arrived in 1992 for 10 billion lire, but repeatedly caused friction between the president and Capello. Perhaps the only one.

«He asked me why I took Savicevic off. I told him that Dejan didn't run and that I didn't like playing ten against eleven. So Savicevic started running and became the Genius ».

Savicevic's promise

So Fabio Capello a few years later revealed the Cavaliere's only real interference on his years at Milan. He, a true Friulian, an iron sergeant, Berlusconi's happy intuition but not for this submissive. On the contrary. He made no distinction even in the face of the "Genius" par excellence. That Sunday at Milanello the games were done. Perhaps the Cup has never been so within reach, because the opponents flaunted extreme confidence, because the "old lion" Milan was not dead. He was simply silent, after tormented weeks of studying the best strategy to be able to silence everyone. Berlusconi greets the coach and the team, flanked by his loyal Adriano Galliani, but then stops with Savicevic, his godson, and with a paternal and provocative way throws him a good-natured jab.

«Dear Dejan, I've been fighting for you for two years. You are a genius? Then prove it Wednesday in Athens, I will follow you on television. »

Dejan Savicevic's shrewd and, even this, "brilliant" intelligence lies in taking up the affectionate challenge of his president and turning it into a simple promise, a certain appointment with history fixed in a precise moment.

The second promise of the Genius

Milan arrived in Athens never ceases to suffer from the media propaganda openly sided with Cruijff, who together with the Catalan team flaunt the superiority on the paper allowed to him. He is photographed with the Cup before the final, accompanying everything with laconic declarations: "The Milan fans enjoy this Barcelona: Italians don't happen every week to see a team that plays as well as ours", "I don't really see how can we lose the Champions Cup ». From a distance the indiscreet eye of a Montenegrin observes everything. And on a reporter's question, Savicevic disassembled in a few words the bravado of Cruijff: "Usually the photos with the Cup is better after taking them." Another promise.

Twenty seconds of Slavic poetry How is it going to end that game if remind all lovers of football, in addition to the Milan fans into raptures. A four to net zero, it is only right and necessary. The perfect game tactically and superior Capello, capable of annihilating the Romario-Stoichkov couple with the unusual defensive duo Galli-Maldini, Johan Cruijff's face impassive, as read by a paresis. But most of the "Genius."Were we talking about a date with history? Well, just two minutes after the start of the second half Savicevic puts the ball on Albertini. The young Demetrio from the midfield line widens on the right where Nadal is ahead, who waits for the time necessary to find himself in front of Savicevic. The play that the defender tries is the perfect summary of the feeling of that Barcelona: fear. Nadal, wrapped in that unexpected doubling, tries a kind of pass that is however promptly intercepted by the Slav's high foot, which risks the referee's intervention. The tackle bounces the ball to the edge of the penalty area once, just long enough to be romantically kissed by Savicevic's left foot who inexorably overrides Zubizarreta. Twenty seconds to describe the poetics of Dejan Savicevic, capable of fitting sweet lines and writing odes with a ball.

Savicevic, quasi-Golden Ball

All with a unique and inimitable metric. An authentic "Genius". Born in Titograd, now Podgorica in Montenegro, in 1966. In the midst of that semblance of a "Federative Socialist Republic" led by Marshal Tito, nestled between Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo - grouped together in former Yugoslavia - and Albania, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Dejan is part of that famous "generation of phenomena" of Yugoslavia, recognized as the "Brazil of Europe" at that time for the high quality of its players. He made his debut in FK Budućnost Podgorica, a team from his hometown, to get to the Red Star of Belgrade, where with the victory of the 1991 Champions Cup he showed off coming close to that year's Ballon d'Or.

Maximum yield with minimum effort

Everyone knows his laziness a little bit, first of all Capello. He hated morning training and ran less than the coach wanted on the pitch. He suffered adaptation to the Italian championship due to the tactical limitations imposed on him and above all the physical demands. He used to compensate the price of a ticket with a play, he sought the maximum yield with the minimum effort, preserving the effort in exchange for genius. Then the change of course, also thanks to the strong affection of President Berlusconi, a great admirer of him, and to the intelligence of Capello, who greatly appreciated his infinite talent. The intelligence of "Don Fabio" was to make the surrender of the "Genius" superior, even in a role not favored by the Montenegrin, not to be satisfied. The match in Athens turned out to be total not only for the pearl set in the history of world football, but above all for Savicevic's enormous tactical match, who spent so much throughout the pitch pressing high and not sparing.

Retirement and office life .. indeed

A new life after retiring from football. First as a coach of Yugoslavia, then after the independence of Montenegro in 2006, as president of the Federation. Where Savicevic never ceases to be a "genius" and a poet in his own way. To those who accuse him of having changed, working like all the other employees in an office, he promptly replied as follows:

«I refused a salary precisely for not having any kind of obligation. I don't feel like going to the office from 9 in the morning to 5 in the evening. If I had had a salary I would have had no escape. For twenty years I was a professional footballer and I had schedules to respect. Now it does not occur to me to stamp the card. In my career I have suffered so much training in the morning… »

Dejan, fearless

The alarm clock remains fixed on late morning, the passion is always the same. Thinner than the "seventh ton" of compatriot investigator Nero Wolfe - a famous character in Rex Stout's series of novels of the '900 - but identical in laziness. He, chronic in love with this game that has given him so much and to which he wants to contribute, giving back to his country a future in the sports field. That's it, take it or leave it. For the final in Athens he prepared himself with a motto useful for every day: «Before Barcelona I said to myself: 'Play it like the other Dejans, without fear'». So why not try it too. Just like that, like the "Genius", without fear.

Thanks to the pen of CasaBaggio .

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