• Switzerland's news in English

Former Milan star tackles Swiss football turbulence

AFP · 12 Nov 2012, 11:08

Published: 11 Nov 2012 11:08 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Nov 2012 11:08 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

But the former AC Milan midfielder is staggered by the number of coaches Sion has gone through.

Now 34, the 2006 World Cup winner joined the Swiss club on a two-year contract in June, opting for "quality of life" in the peaceful small town in the canton of Valais, surrounded by mountains, as he plays out the twilight years of his stellar career.

His friend and former Italy team-mate Alessandro Del Piero, whom Sion also approached, hesitated and instead preferred the warmer climes of Sydney, Australia.

"I've spoken to him about it," Gattuso says.

"I told him that here you've got to smile because it's not the life you led at Juventus (Del Piero's former club)," he says.

"There's something else — the passion of the fans."

The arrival of such a decorated star in the humble Swiss league led to an explosion in the sale of replica team shirts — more than 10,000 instead of the usual 800 sold for a top player.

Sion's Stade Tourbillon may not be filled with the ghosts of its legendary past like at Milan's San Siro but its name — "the whirlwind" in English — takes on a whole new meaning because of its no-nonsense president and owner Christian Constantin.

He took on the might of European football's governing body UEFA and its president, former France captain Michel Platini, by going to court in Switzerland last year in an ultimately unsuccessful challenge against exclusion from this year's Europa League.

The Swiss club had been found guilty of violating FIFA transfer regulations, also prompting a 36-point penalty which would have led to relegation from the top flight had Neuchätel Xamax not been expelled after going bankrupt.

Since saving Sion itself from the verge of bankruptcy, Constantin has been through a staggering 27 coaches.

"I've only played under 10 coaches in my entire career but in four months at Sion I've had three," says Gattuso.

"It's a bit strange."

When out-of-contract Gatusso joined Sion after 13 years at Milan, Sebastien Fournier was in charge but left on September 4th.

The second coach, Michel Decastel, was shown the door at the end of October.

Pierre-Andre Schuermann is now in charge and the club is now in third place in the league.

"There's no getting away from the fact that when you change coach three times it disrupts the players and the club," Gattuso says.

"But we can't use it as an excuse," he says.

"We've all got to assume our responsibilities.

"We've got a competitive team and we have to do more with the side we've got."

Gattuso says he holds Constantin in high regard, not just because he's been made captain.

"There are few clubs in the world where you've got a president who puts in his own money," he says.

But Gattuso, who wants to go into coaching himself one day, says he can't imagine cutting his teeth at Sion.

Constantin says that Gattuso, who played 73 times for the Azzurri, is discovering a different world at the club.

Story continues below…

"AC Milan is a team which up until recently has practically limitless funds and one of the biggest budgets in European football," he says.

"With that you can buy the best players and there's less call for such radical measures," Constantin says.

"On the other hand when you're a club with a budget that's 15 times smaller — for us it's 20 million euros ($25.5 million) — you've got to work harder to succeed and secure a European cup place."

The fact remains, though, that no manager has stayed at Sion for more than a year under Constantin's watch.

"I've had a lot of managers here who've resigned when I've looked straight in their eyes," he says.

As for what he expects from a coach, Constantin looks to his Alpine surroundings.

"A coach increasingly has to be more of a sherpa who has to lead his group to the summit of a mountain," he says.

"If the sherpa lacks energy, he's going to be replaced by another sherpa — but the gradient and the altitude are still the same."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Protect Swiss waterways or lose our fish': WWF
Photo: Richi Stadelmann/WWF

Eighty-five percent of fish species in Switzerland are under threat, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

SBB pilots new annual pass – costing 12,200 francs
The 'door-to-door' pass includes use of an electric car. Photo: SBB

Swiss federal railways (SBB) is looking for 100 people willing to pilot a new annual transport pass that includes use of an electric car.

Immigration to Switzerland falls as emigration rises
File photo: The Local

Immigration in Switzerland has fallen considerably this year, according to official figures.

Wawrinka aces his way into Basel quarterfinals
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The home favourite returns to the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors for the first time in five years.

Illegal immigrant dies after setting himself on fire
The victim was treated at University Hospital Zurich. Photo: University Hospital Zurich

The 45-year-old Tunisian was threatened with deportation.

Swiss government rejects call for second immigration vote
Photo: Justus Blumer/Christophe G

The Swiss government has rejected a popular initiative calling for a revote on plans to limit immigration.

Bern: companies should report salary inequality by law
File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The Swiss government wants to force small companies to examine their rates of pay every four years.

Husband in custody after Orbe body identified
File photo: Bas Leenders

The deceased is a 55-year-old woman who lived in the house with her husband.

Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available