December 8, 2021

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God wanted me to play for Milan – Giroud

3 min read

Olivier Giroud is excited to start a new chapter in his career in Serie A and says “God wanted me to play for Milan”.

The 34-year-old joined the Rossoneri in a reported €2 million deal on July 17, bringing an end to his nine-year stay in the Premier League with Arsenal and more recently Chelsea.

Giroud is looking forward to adding to his trophy collection during his time in Italy having won Ligue 1 with Montpellier before lifting the FA Cup four times and tasting glory in the Champions League and Europa League during his time in England.

“I won many trophies at every club I’ve been at and would like to do the same here,” he said at his official unveiling on Monday.

“I do have an objective in my mind during my time here, but I don’t want to reveal it, otherwise there will be too much pressure. Let’s just say my final objective is to win with Milan.”

Giroud is thought to have signed a two-year deal with Milan and is following in the steps of legendary figures such as Gunnar Nordahl, Filippo Inzaghi and Andriy Shevchenko.

And the France international leaned on one of those iconic figures before putting pen to paper with the Italian giants.

“The time had come to leave Chelsea and discover a new league. God wanted me to play for Milan,” he said.

“This is one of the biggest clubs in the world and I really believe in the project here. We’ve got what it takes to have a very good Champions League campaign.

“When I was young, I watched Milan games with Shevchenko and he later became a dear friend who I asked for advice.

“It’s an honour for me to be at a club where so many great stars have played and it was emotional talking to [director] Paolo Maldini, too.

“I want to give my contribution, be a big brother to the players and bring my experience. I hope also to be remembered as a good person and not just a great player.”

Giroud found starts hard to come by at Chelsea following Thomas Tuchel’s arrival in late January, though he did make his mark felt in his final campaign at Stamford Bridge.

The World Cup winner netted five times in Chelsea’s Champions League-winning campaign, four of those goals coming in the Blues’ 4-0 victory at Sevilla in the group stage.

That made him the oldest player (34 years, 63 days) to score a hat-trick in the Champions League/European Cup since Ferenc Puskas (38y, 173d) for Real Madrid in 1965.

He arrives at Milan as a European champion and has inherited the number nine shirt, which is one of the most iconic jerseys in football but has more recently become a poisoned chalice of sorts.

Mario Mandzukic, Krzysztof Piatek and Gonzalo Higuain have all failed to live up to its reputation in recent years, yet Giroud is unfazed by the weight of expectation.

“I am not superstitious. A shirt number cannot change the way I play,” he said.

“Strikers like Inzaghi, Marco van Basten and Jean-Pierre Papin wore this shirt for Milan, but I don’t feel the pressure.”

Giroud will link up with another Milan great this coming season in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has 25 goals in 37 Serie A appearances since returning to the San Siro in January 2020.

Grenoble product Giroud will turn 35 next month but is inspired by 39-year-old Ibrahimovic to continue playing at the top for as long as possible.

“My age means nothing,” he said. “Zlatan is a few years older than me, but it’s all about your mentality. With the right motivation, you can still push hard.”

Giroud scored with his first touch as a Milan player in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Nice. Stefano Pioli’s men face Valencia in their next pre-season outing on Thursday.

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