Clarence Seedorf was discouraged by the lack of job vacancies in Italy after his stint in charge of Milan, stressing how few black coaches work in professional football.
Netherlands international Seedorf spent 14 years of his playing career in Italy, representing Sampdoria, Inter and Milan, with the latter he played for a decade.
He ended his playing career in January 2014 and became Milan’s new head coach, but was sacked less than five months later.
Between January 2014 and the end of the season, Milan had accumulated 35 points – fourth most in Serie A – and Seedorf had won exactly half of their 22 leading games in all competitions.
Before Seedorf’s arrival this season, Milan were just 11th-best in Serie A with 22 points from 19 games. Likewise, Vincenzo Montella and Stefano Pioli were the only Milan coaches to improve his win rate in a single season.
Seedorf returned to coaching with Shenzhen two years later, before also working for Deportivo La Coruna and Cameroon, but it still worries him how few chances he had in Italy.
“I wondered why I didn’t have any other options in Italy, I have two children born here,” he said at the Turin Sports Festival, according to Pianeta Milan.
“I don’t think it’s a racist country, I’ve always supported that and I think I understand what it’s like. There are racists, however [the country] is not.
“If you look at what happened, there is little basis to understand that those who have arrived [as head coach] after I immediately found a team at Milan [after then leaving Milan], and I didn’t even have a suggestion. After 20 years in Italy… or they told me they didn’t want to insult me with a proposal.
“Send me a proposal and I’ll decide if I’m offended or not. It’s not just in Italy, there are few black coaches everywhere.
“I got my first serious proposal in China, I accepted it because I like to travel and make every project an important thing.
“However, it’s disappointing to see that you don’t get a call after the Milan experience where you’re doing well.
“Football reflects society. I make it my life’s work to create equality and inclusion. That should be the strength of the company.
“The world is now connected, there is no way to keep people away. You’re next to someone who doesn’t resemble you but who is more of your country than you are, knows more… It was a difficult moment, I was aware of it but I didn’t think it would happen to me.”