In his regular discussion with New York Times readers, Clarence
Seedorf discusses the UEFA Champions League semifinals, some of the
brightest stars of the international game, and whether or not he thinks
doping is a major problem in international soccer. Read the AC Milan
midfielder’s responses post your comments below.
The Champions League is the biggest story in European soccer
this week, and you’re sort of like Mr. Champions League. So, what is
your take on the Champions League semifinal match up between Barcelona
and Inter Milan? – The New York Times
I’ve just been in the hotel where Barcelona was staying. I think
they are of course the favorites. If Inter can manage for Barcelona not
to score, it will become very interesting. But to be able to stop
Barcelona you have to have quite some performance. And I think it is a
hard task for Inter. But if they can succeed in a good first match,
where Barcelona can’t score, it becomes an interesting second game. But
if Barcelona do score one goal, at least, I think it will be very hard
for Inter to regroup for the second game.
Either Inter will go do full attack, and press them on their half.
Or they’re going to counter attack. Mourinho is full of surprises. So
you never know, but I think they’ll counter attack, especially at home.
They have the strategy to do that, they have the team to do that.
Inter should win the game, they should do that, and Barcelona should not
score. Because to have to beat Barcelona at home, that’s just very
hard for anybody.
Leo Messi is having another remarkable season. Recently Pele said we
should only consider Messi one of the great players in the history of
the game when he scores his 1000th goal. But the game is different now.
Messi plays mostly in La Liga, the Champions League, and the World Cup
and qualifiers. The competition he faces is amazning. He will probably
not score 1000 goals in his career. How do we compare him to the greats
of the past if he continues to be such a dominant and inspiring player? -– Michael, Gainsville, Fla.
You just can’t. You can’t even do it if it is players from the same
generation. Each player is unique. Lionel Messi, for the moment, is
just exploding. It’s a pleasure to see him play and I hope he can manage
it for a long, long time.
I just like to praise what the guys are doing at the moment. All the
other stuff is less important. Because if you’re going to analyze,
many players have had their moments for a couple of years and have just
been brilliant and then, somebody else comes up. A couple of years ago,
well, last year, it was Ronaldo at Manchester United. And now people
don’t talk about him so much any more but he still has 20 goals this
year for Real Madrid.
It’s all the moment. In sports, things change fast. At this moment
it is important to enjoy what a player is doing at this moment, and for
Messi it is special. To start comparing is taking things away from
What is your take on the Bayern Munich-Lyon match? Is it finally the year for a French team to win?
— The New York Times
I’m so happy for Lyon. They deserve to finally get past the
quarterfinal and they are, I think, good enough to make the final. They
can do it. Bayern Munich is good, but I think Lyon is very good too.
Lyon is the type of team that if Barcelona do go the final, Lyon
would be a tough one for Barcelona, the way they play. Like Real
Madrid, who lost to Lyon, it was a good match.
If Barcelona go through and Lyon, I think that’s the final that will happen.
But Bayern is a team that has shown strength in difficult moments and quality in very important moments.
I’m happy already for Lyon — for the management, the project they’ve
put together, the consistency of their decisions. They have been
successful on and off the field. That’s the way it should be done. I
mean, they’re winning the league most season with their eyes closed.
What, seven or eight in the past years?
In Europe, they’ve always been to the quarterfinals. And they are
turning out talent. Before Lyon, it was Marseilles. Before that, Paris
St. Germain. The whole French system, like the Dutch, produces players.
That’s what they do well. They have a good youth structure and that’s
what they know how to do very well.
Given the widespread and well-documented use of steroids in
other sports (American baseball, for example), do you worry about their
impact on professional football? –- Michael Miller, Mexico City
No, I’m not worried. I think that soccer most probably is one of the
few sports where steroids are not so common. It doesn’t really improve
your game. It’s a physical sport, sure, but football at a high level
is really very technical. Improving your physical performance has never
shown that you can always win.
Look at Barcelona: they’re all around 160 cm tall (5 feet, 3 inches).
The tallest is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but before that, it was Carles
Puyol, and he is my height! And they’re the best team in the world at
First of all it’s a health thing. It’s not healthy. And it doesn’t
have the impact that it does in other sports on the performance. That’s
why it’s not really common in football.
There is testing, of course, but there’s testing in other sports too.
There have been cases of players testing positive in football, but if
you look at how many players are playing and how many have tested
positive, it’s ridiculous. Not even enough to mention.
I was watching you the other night from the 2004-5 Champions
League on UEFA.com, and I wondered: How does the experience of playing
top-flight soccer change as you go through life? Which skills diminish
and which improve? How does the training change? How does your thinking
change during matches? –- Al, Arizona
I think I’ve only improved my skills. I can’t say that I’ve
diminished any one of them. That would be a very bad thing. I think
I’ve improved my skills. On the pitch and off the pitch, mentally and
physically, I’ve always worked on my body and prevention. That’s paying
This year has been the worst year of my career because I have had
this hip problem. I got knocked in the hip during a game in January, and
that affected me. But until January, I was flying.
Hopefully next year I won’t have these problems any more. I missed
some important games this year; that was difficult. Maybe I could have
helped the team and do something more.
After reading about you helping with Serie C team AC Monza,
I became curious why you made this choice as a business person. I am
aware that Cedric Seedorf currently plays for the club, and how is the
club working with younger players to progress their skill to be on
stronger teams such as AC Milan or Real Madrid? — Kyle
Through ON International,
we’re doing the management of the club and direct the involvement of
the investors. The model we’re applying is a model I developed for the
youth development. We’re preparing them 360 degrees on what is coming
once you become a top player, a professional player. By doing that
we’re focusing on education and also the core values of life and sports.
Very much what I represent and what the investors want to do.
This is a change in what is today a football environment, which is
not really expressing with the youth the things most important. Most of
the projects today are about creating great football players, and we
want to create great champions. For me, someone is great champion not
just on the pitch, but also off the pitch.
My younger brother is on the team, and my nephew too. We have one
other player: the captain, Vincenzo Iacopino, was a guy I played with in
After retirement , do you have any plans yet? We all know
your a very successful business man , and an author now too . But with
someone as smart as you, are you planning to coach ? – Yazan-Milanista, Amman, Jordan
I am involved now managing this club, with all the professionals
involved. But for the future, we’ll see. It’s something I think I can
do, but I have no plans to now. I have more playing years ahead of me.
But it is something I think I can do.
If it happens it will happen naturally. I’m studying many things:
sports management, business, who knows? Maybe I will start my coaching
course too. I’m very busy, but there are always ways.
Why do you think Kaká has failed to make the impression at Real Madrid that he did at AC Milan? -– Jabber, Sao Paolo, Brazil
It’s been a difficult season for him. He hasn’t been fit all the
time. And you’ve got to adapt yourself to a new team, a new country.
It’s not always said but even big name players that go to another club
have to do this to perform well.
After seeing top players like Andriy Shevchenko and Kaká leave Milan,
it’s not just an easy thing to shift teams and play well. Sometimes
players need a year to adapt and then they play well again in the second
year. I think this is what happened with Kaká.
He did well enough to help the team be where they are, but I think it
is also just a matter of time for him to get to where he can be, and
maybe they use him differently.
I think he should play a little bit more up front together with
Ronaldo. He’s a good finisher, and with Madrid you will get a lot of
goals to finish. I would like to see him play a little bit more up
What do you think of Emmanuel Adebayor’s decision to retire from international play? – Tache, London
If this is true, I can understand it and respect that. It’s a pity
because he is so young. And maybe it’s just for the moment and he’s
just emotional about what happened a few months ago. I think he will
have the time to rethink his decision. But for now I can understand his
You recently held a gala for your Champions for Children foundation. Why was it so important for you to do this the same year as the World Cup in South Africa? — The New York Times
It brings a lot of attention, 360-degree attention on the African
continent and South Africa, of course. For me personally, it is a
tribute to Nelson Mandela and a way to strengthen his message of
education. As a Nelson Mandela Legacy Fellow,
I want to help strengthen the message that we have to leave something
behind after the World Cup that will be useful for the whole continent.
With the World Cup in South Africa, we’re going to get a lot of things
out of it from a business point of view, so that’s why everyone has to
make sure that the social responsibility that comes with such an event
in the African continent is of major importance.
The Champions for Children foundation decided to take this
opportunity to start doing and not just saying. We’ve already been
working on the project because it requires a lot of things on the
ground, like research, which has been happening every day. We have
universities involved, like Universita Cattolica, here in Milan, and
Western Cape University in Cape Town. South Africa.
We had a very successful charity event here in Milan. The mayor gave
a speech. Maki Mandela, the daughter of Mandela, was a special guest.
We raised 900,000 euros, more or less, and that’s enough to start the
project in Manenberg. The process started a couple of years ago, but
now we’re really going to start working on the ground. You never know
how things are going to evolve. The building is now what we have to
start focusing on. Everything is in place and everything is right.
When we open it has to be completely ready.
Because sport is what has brought South Africa together, what better
way to start this project knowing the pilot of many more to come will be
in South Africa where sport is the tool for the educational process for
kids and the communities we’re going to work with.
We want to build something that can be there fore generations to come and be replicated.
As told to Jeffrey Marcus