Clarence Seedorf to coach Milan
Clarence Seedorf has announced he is to retire from playing with immediate effect to replace sacked manager Massimiliano Allegri at AC Milan.
Seedorf, 37, has been released from his playing contract with Botafogo to allow him to pursue a coaching career with the Rossoneri, who parted company with Allegri on Monday in the wake of Sunday's 4-3 defeat at Sassuolo.
The loss left Milan languishing in 11th place in the table, 30 points behind league leaders Juventus and 20 points outside the Champions League places.
"I want to announce that I'm ending my playing career," Seedorf said at a news conference in Brazil. "It has been a difficult night for me, but I end satisfied with what I have achieved in my career. I want to thank everybody at Botafogo. This experience will help me a lot in my next step, which will be as coach of Milan."
"Football is part of my life, but it is not all of my life. I knew it would come to an end sooner or later. This is a new challenge, but I'm relaxed about it."
Seedorf returns to a club which was in a much healthier position when he left. He left in the summer of 2012 after Milan finished second to Juventus. He spent 10 years as a player at Milan, winning the Champions League twice.
Allegri was made to pay for an enduring bad spell of form, thus hastening Seedorf's anticipated summer arrival at the club. The Dutchman was contacted by Milan president Silvio Berlusconi immediately.
"Given my relationship with president Berlusconi, when he called me yesterday, I couldn't say no," said Seedorf.
"If I could have played on another five years, I would have stayed here because Botafogo have a young, competitive team. We've improved not only technically, but also as a team. Even after me, Botafogo will remain great."
Seedorf is due to arrive in Milan in time to see them face Spezia in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday evening. Mauro Tassotti will take charge of the team for the game, and he has already wished his successor all the best.
"Certainly Seedorf is not lacking the ability to do well," he said at a news conference in Milan. "He has a great personality and this will help him a great deal. I have no particular advice for Seedorf. He knows the club as well as I do. If he wants to know more about the situation of the players, then I'd be only too happy to oblige."
Seedorf's next step will be to bid farewell to his Botafogo players before boarding a plane to Milan, to embark on the next chapter in his footballing career.
"I wish I could hug all the fans one by one," said Seedorf. "My last game, scoring a goal, was incredible. I still have time to hug all of my teammates and I want to thank everybody at Botafogo."
Botafogo's president Mauricio Assumpcao also wanted to thank him, presenting the Dutchman with a framed photo, wishing him "good luck" in Italian. "We wanted him to stay with us, but football is gaining a great coach," he said. "People are going to be chasing Milan in future."