Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho, Pato: AC Milan’s 2011 Scudetto winners - what happened next?

After an agonising 11 year wait, AC Milan returned to the top of the mountain in Serie A as they were crowned champions for the 2021/22 season.

Milan have endured an incredibly bleak decade since their last Scudetto win before this season’s triumph.

Slipping away from their usual spot in the limelight, Milan fell out of the fight for European football and underwhelmed significantly as a result of mismanagement, finishing as low as tenth in the 2014/15 season.

While that doesn’t sound at all catastrophic in the grand scheme of things, it absolutely was for the Rossoneri, who are one of club football’s most storied and successful sides.

But since appointing Stefano Pioli as manager in 2019 and with the help of more shrewd recruitment led by club legends Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara, a youthful Milan side has been rebuilt and conquered Italy once again, spearheaded by the experience of Olivier Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

What is important now for Milan is that they kick on and continue to rebuild in their mission to re-establish themselves as a European giant, and avoid falling to the same fate that followed their last Scudetto win in 2010/11.

With that in mind, now feels as perfect a time as ever to look back on the Milan side that was crowned Italian champions in 2011, and what happened next as a near decade of misery followed the win.

Jurrien Timber to Man Utd latest (Football Terrace)

Goalkeeper – Christian Abbiati

In an almost 20 year career with Milan from 1998 to 2016 that saw him play just about every role possible, Abbiati became first choice in the late 2000s and early 2010s as Dida’s presence waned.

The Italian made 35 appearances and conceded just 24 goals in 2010/11 and would stay with the Rossoneri until he retired in 2016 as the goalkeeper with the most appearances for the club.

What happened next for AC Milan's 2011 Scudetto winners?
MILAN, ITALY – OCTOBER 15: Christian Abbiati of AC Milan during the Serie A match between AC Milan and US Citta di Palermo at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 15, 2011 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Goalkeeper – Marco Amelia

Loaned in by Milan to play second fiddle to Abbiati, Amelia clinched a second Serie A title of his career in 2010/11, despite barely featuring because of Abbiati’s form and availability.

Milan would sign him permanently, but he left for free in 2014 and eventually made his way to Chelsea in October 2015. He left the Premier League in 2016 and retired after a season with Vicenza.

Full back – Gianluca Zambrotta

A versatile defensive option, Zambrotta made 15 Serie A appearances between left and right back for Milan, proving an experienced and valuable asset.

He left for free in 2012 and spent the 2013/14 season as a player-assistant manager with Swiss side Chiasso, which turned into a player-manager role before the season was out. He retired in 2014.

What happened to Zambrotta after Milan's title win?
PARMA, ITALY – MARCH 24: Alessandro Lucarelli of Parma FC competes for the ball with Gianluca Zambrotta of AC Milan during the Serie A match between Parma FC and AC Milan at Stadio Ennio Tardini on March 24, 2010 in Parma, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Full back – Luca Antonini

Antonini re-signed for Milan in 2008 after beginning his senior career with the club and became a favourite under Massimiliano Allegri as they won the Scudetto in 2011. He left for Genoa in 2013, before dropping down the divisions and eventually retiring in 2016.

Full back – Ignazio Abate

Renowned for his blistering pace from deep, Abate owned the right back spot at Milan after returning in 2009. He stayed with the club throughout their decline and captained the side in 2014/15, before retiring after a decade-long spell and 306 appearances for the Rossoneri in 2019.

Abate is a Milan legend
MILAN, ITALY – APRIL 11: Ignazio Abate of Milan in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Catania Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on April 11, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)

Centre back – Daniele Bonera

Bonera returned halfway through the season for Milan following a heavy injury layoff and slotted into the team well in the second half of the season. He fizzled out into a backup option once again in the years after the title win and left in 2015 for Villarreal, before retiring in 2019 and returning to Milan as a coach.

Centre back – Alessandro Nesta

A true club legend, the 2011 Scudetto would be the third and final Serie A title Nesta won. Injuries and fitness issues would play a part, but Nesta remained a key cog and left at the end of the following season for a stint with Montreal Impact. He retired in 2014 after a brief spell with Indian outfit Chennaiyin.

Nesta retired shortly after winning the title
MILAN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 26: Alessandro Nesta of Milan in action during the Serie A match between Milan and Genoa at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 26, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

Centre back – Thiago Silva

No defender featured for Milan more than Silva did in 2010/11, who starred in his second season for the club.

After winning the title, the Brazilian spent one more year with Milan before moving to Paris Saint-Germain in 2013, where he spent his peak years, before signing for Chelsea in 2020.

Centre back – Mario Yepes

Unable to break into the side as a regular starter, Yepes wouldn’t have minded all that much considering his maiden season in Milan saw him become a Serie A winner. The Colombian left for Atalanta in 2013 and wrapped up his career in 2016 after two years with Argentine side San Lorenzo.

Yepes didn't feature often
MILAN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 24: Mario Yepes of AC Milan in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and AC Cesena at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 24, 2011 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Centre back – Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Sokratis was in Milan’s squad as they won the league, but barely featured and left in 2011 for Werder Bremen, where he spent two years before moving to Borussia Dortmund.

A move to Arsenal then emerged for Sokratis in 2018, who is now back in his native Greece.

Midfielder – Mathieu Flamini

After finding his place as a handy rotation arm in the Scudetto-winning season, Flamini’s 2011/12 campaign was completely derailed by a knee injury. He re-signed for Arsenal in 2013 and looked rejuvenated as their veteran midfield option, before retiring in 2019 after spells with Crystal Palace and Getafe.

Flamini proved his worth for Milan
GENOA, ITALY – FEBRUARY 06: Mathieu Flamini of AC Milan (R) in aciton against Juray Kucka of Genoa CFC during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC and AC Milan at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on February 6, 2011 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Midfielder – Massimo Ambrosini

Captain of the infamous side, Ambrosini took the armband following Maldini’s retirement and held it until his 2013 departure. The veteran midfielder spent a season with Fiorentina before hanging up the boots himself.

Midfielder – Kevin-Prince Boateng

Boateng’s first spell with Milan in 2010 began as a loan, before the Rossoneri took co-ownership of the midfielder alongside Genoa. Boateng starred for the Rossoneri and his highlights in Milan are still fondly remembered. He left for Schalke in 2013 and was back with Milan by 2016, but failed to recapture the same magic.

He’s since played around Spain, Italy and Germany, been loaned to Barcelona and is now at Hertha BSC. Go figure.

What happened to Boateng after winning Serie A with Milan?
MILAN, ITALY – DECEMBER 04: Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan celebrates scoring the first goal during the Serie A match between Milan and Brescia at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 4, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Midfielder – Clarence Seedorf

Despite being in the autumn of his career, Seedorf was indispensable for Milan in their pursuit of the title and racked up four goals and six assists from 30 Serie A appearances.

He left the club in 2012 and spent two years with Botafogo in Brazil, leaving in 2014 to take over as Milan manager following Allegri’s dismissal.

Midfielder – Mark van Bommel

An already incredibly successful midfielder, Van Bommel was signed on a free transfer from Bayern Munich and proved his worth after a shaky start. He signed a year extension before leaving for PSV in 2012, where he retired after one season.

Van Bommel signed for Milan for free
GENOA, ITALY – JANUARY 26: Mark van Bommel of AC Milan in action during the Tim Cup match between UC Sampdoria and AC Milan at Luigi Ferraris Stadium on January 26, 2011 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Midfielder – Andrea Pirlo

Milan thinking Pirlo was finished and subsequently letting him walk away for free at the end of the 2010/11 season was one of their most costly mistakes.

Juventus snapped up the veteran on a free transfer and he became the experienced lynchpin in a near decade of dominance over Serie A for the Old Lady.

Midfielder – Gennaro Gattuso

Signing with Milan in 1999, Gattuso seemingly got better with age and found new levels in 2010/11, propelling the club to the title from midfield. He left in 2012 for Swiss outfit Sion, who he was appointed manager of by February 2013. He returned to manage the Rossoneri from 2017 to 2019.

Gattuso enjoyed a stellar 2010/11 season
MILAN, ITALY – DECEMBER 18: Gennaro Gattuso of AC Milan and Marco Borriello of AS Roma compete for the ball during the Serie A match between AC Milan and AS Roma at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 18, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Forward – Filippo Inzaghi

Inzaghi capped off his incredible 11 year stay with the red side of Milan by lifting the third Serie A title of his career. Now a veteran, his season was ended by an ACL injury, but he signed a contract extension and played one more year, retiring in 2012 and immediately taking up the role of manager for their Primavera team.

Forward – Robinho

Milan made Robinho one of their star acquisitions ahead of the season, prying him away from Manchester City. He bagged 14 league goals and three assists, but fizzled out in line with Milan’s decline. A loan return to Santos in 2014 resulted in him leaving permanently for China in 2015, kicking off a worldwide tour of clubs.

Forward – Antonio Cassano

Arriving halfway through the season, Cassano provided competition for places as a versatile forward and won his first Scudetto in efficient fashion. His move to Milan quickly fell apart, though, and he left for City rivals Inter in the summer of 2012. He only spent a year there before leaving again, circling around Italian clubs until his 2017 retirement.

Forward – Ronaldinho

Slowly coming down the other side of the mountain regarding his peak, Ronaldinho left for Flamengo half way through the 2010/11 season, but had made enough appearances to earn a winner’s medal. He retired in 2015 after four years back in Brazil and a brief stint in Mexico.

Ronaldinho left Milan half way through the 2010/11 season
MILAN, ITALY – AUGUST 29: Ronaldinho of AC Milan gestures during the Serie A match between AC Milan and US Lecce at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 29, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Forward – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

It’s incredibly poetic that Ibrahimovic was there for Milan’s ascent back to the top of the mountain, considering he was also there the last time they won Serie A in 2011. Ibrahimovic followed Silva to PSG ahead of the 2012/13 season and played for Manchester United and LA Galaxy before returning to San Siro in 2020.

Forward – Alexandre Pato

The streets can never forget Pato. Injuries didn’t stop him from weighing into the title charge with his 14 Serie A goals that season, but they would derail his career the following season as he was named the worst player in Serie A for 2011/12. He returned to Brazil in 2013, had a strange loan to Chelsea in 2016 and has since played in China and the MLS. What a shame.

What happened to Milan's 2010/11 Scudetto winners?
MILAN, ITALY – AUGUST 29: Pato of AC Milan celebrates his second goal during the Serie A match between AC Milan and US Lecce at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 29, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

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