by Michael Pearson

After 18 years in the red & black, Massimo Ambrosini is leaving Milan.

With the club controversially deciding not to renew his contract, Il Capitano said goodbye in a final press conference, at the San Siro.

Although the 36 year old struggled to hide his bitterness about how his Milan adventure has ended he, typically, represented himself with the very same dignity, elegance and humility that epitomised his captaincy of the Rossoneri.

“I wanted to say thank you to everybody. It is not easy because I’m moved by the occasion,” Ambrosini began.

“I’ve waited a couple of days before speaking because if I’d spoken as soon as I found out about the club’s decision, I might have said things in the heat of the moment. That wouldn’t have been right.

I want to thank everybody starting with the president and Galliani and Braida (Sporting Director)  for 18 wonderful years;  18 years I will never be able to forget.

“I wanted to wait a few days, to allow the sense of disappointment to recede slightly, which I think is totally justifiable.

My thanks extend to all those people who are not in the limelight, the people who work behind the scenes, who in my opinion are the true strength behind Milan – like those at Milanello (Milan’s training headquarters)  who have been like a family to me.,” continued the holding midfielder.

“I don’t do Facebook or Twitter, but I’ve felt all the affection shown by the Rossoneri supporters and I thank them here and now,  because it’s the only way I can speak to everybody while I am still a Milan player.

“A huge thank you to all the fans, because  18 years is a long time….  and once again I thank the club, because being with Milan has allowed me to play in magnificent stadiums, to play with great teammates and to be captain of this great team.

The disappointment I might be feeling now cannot be stronger than the joy and happiness of a person who thinks of himself as one of the lucky ones. I am happy to have achieved what I have achieved.

“I gave everything for this team and I got just as much back, but I have no intention to ask for a farewell match. I always respected the club’s policies.

I would have liked to have said goodbye to the fans after the last match of the season but the club had still not communicated what they had planned.

I am sure it was not a painless decision to make – at a managerial level- but I had an idea what was going to happen.

If the coach had wanted to keep me then perhaps he could have tried to convince the club, but it was a decision made by the club in agreement with (Coach) Allegri.”

“Next time I speak , I’ll no longer be a Milan player. It is not my place to say whether it was the right decision or not, but it can’t go down as a shocking decision seeing as I am 36.

I’d have preferred it if the decision had been communicated with more care, but I’m here to thank everybody and say goodbye to the people who helped me become a Milan player, my last thought goes to them.”

A gracious goodbye, from a true leader, whose loyalty and commitment will be much missed.

The Milan Channel  has made a tribute video. The soundtrack is Il Capitano’s  favourite song – Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

He played 489 times and won 12 trophies in his 18 years with Milan; including 4 Serie A titles, and 2 Champions Leagues.

Sky Sport Italia expect Ambrosini to join Fiorentina on a Bosman free transfer.