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.

Q.

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.

Q.


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.

A.

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 somebody.

Q.

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

A.

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.

Q.

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

A.

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 the moment.

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.

Q.

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

A.

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 off now.

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.

Q.

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

A.

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 Sampdoria.

Q.

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

A.

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.

Q.

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 front.

Q.


What do you think of Emmanuel Adebayor’s decision to retire from international play?
– Tache, London

A.

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 feeling.

Q.

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

A.

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