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FORZA FRANCESCO COCO

Biography

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Francesco Coco was born in Paterṇ on Sicily 8 january 1977. He lived on Sicily for 3 years before moving to Legnano, a small village near Milan, with his family. He started playing football at a very young age at Como and was soon discovered by AC Milan who scouted him and brought him to the club. After having played at Milan for several years he made his debut in the Serie A on august 27th against Padova. Francesco has fond memories of that match, because Franco Baresi dedicated his winning goal to the debuting Francesco. In the same season, Coco joined the under-21 squad, coached by Cesare Maldini, and they won the European Championship in 1996. Paolo Maldini got injured  and was replaced by Coco, who had made a great impression throughout the season. After 2 seasons at Milan Coco went on loan to Vicenza.. Of course he didn’t want to leave Milan, but with Maldini’s come-back and his young age he realised that he needed to improve and a loanspell at Vicenza was his best option. He went back to Milan, but played only 6 matches in the 1998/1999 season due to a knee-injury.

 

When he had recovered from his injury and had finished his military service, he went on loan to another club, Torino this time, where he played 21 matches during the 1999/2000 season. Having played regularly and having shown everyone what a great player he was, he returned to Milan in the 2000/2001 season, where he finally got the chance to prove himself. And that he did, he played 30 matches and even scored 2 goals! He had also made an impression in the Champions League (against Barca!) and had gotten FC Barcelona interested in signing him. Because of his bad relationship with former Milan coach Fatih Terim, he decided to accept the offer and go to FC Barcelona.

 

 He joined Barca in the 2001/2002 season when he played 21 matches for the Blaugrana, but never managed to really make an impression due to the fact that he had to share his place in the starting 11 with Sergi. Barca had a very bad season and didn’t even manage to qualify for the Champions League.

However, national team coach Giovanni Trapattoni hadn’t forgotten about Coco and decided to include him in the WC2002 squad. Coco had played the least minutes throughout the season and lacked match-rhythem. The preparations for the WC were very much needed for him. About the WC he said : “During the days of training everything seemed normal, then when I had to arrange all the tickets for my relatives and friends, I began to feel the tension of the match. It was a great satisfaction for me, to think that all those people had believed in me. Then the fear arrived. I couldn't show my courage, but now thinking it through, it has been a fervent emotion, I would say right and proper".

 

During the first matches at the WC, Coco wasn’t in the starting 11 due to Trapattoni’s defensive style. In the match against Mexico Coco finally got to play at his first WC. He combined his attacking talents with Vincenzo Montella and Alessandro Del Piero and they managed to turn the match around, Italy scored the equalizer and they qualified for the next round.

He had made quite an impression in the match against Mexico, and because of several injuries of other players, he got himself a place in the starting 11 against South-Korea. He played a decent match and showed his fighting spirit having played the entire second half with a head-injury (Damiano Tomassi had accidentally hit Coco on the head at the end of the first half). Unfortunately, his first match in the starting 11 at a WC didn’t leave Coco with a happy memory. Italy surprisingly lost the match and was kicked out of the tournament. However, Coco had gotten himself noticed playing on the worlds biggest football tournament and gained himself a worldwide fanbase.

 

His one year loanspell at FC Barcelona had finished just before the WC, but he already had a new contract in his pocket, at AC Milan’s biggest rivals : FC Internazionale. Milan and Inter had arranged a “swop”, Inter player Seedorf would join AC Milan while Coco (who was still under contract at Milan) would go to Inter.

In his first season at the Nerazzurri he played regularly and was an important player. Unfortunayely, he got injured again and again.. and wasn’t able to play much in the seasons 2003/2004 and 2004/2005. During the second half of the 2004/2005 season he was finally recovered from all his injuries, but Inter seemed to have forgotten about him. Coach Mancini never gave him the chance to show why Inter had signed him and that he deserved a place in the starting 11. After 2 frustrating seasons at Inter, when Coco felt that no-one believed in him or would give him a chance to play again, he decided to go to another club where he would get the opportunity to play. Several clubs where interested in him and he flew to Newcastle, where he actually played a practice-match, and Amsterdam. In the end he agreed a 1 year loanspell to Serie A club Livorno. Livorno coach Roberto Donadoni knew Coco from his Milan days and convinced him of going to Livorno, guaranteeing him a place in the starting 11.

 

He played at Livorno the past season, showing everyone the great player he once was. And making his critics see that he’s not just the guy in the gossip magazines, but that he’s a true professional. He impressed everyone and showed them that he still deserves a place at a top club.

At the end of the season Coco again suffered a knee injury, leaving him frustrated again after a fantastic season at Livorno.

 

After his excellent season at Livorno he returned to Inter, where he spent the first half of the season recovering from his knee surgery. However, there was no place for him at Inter, they bought WC revelation Fabio Grosso and ex-Ajax player Maxwell.

Coco wanted to leave Inter immediately, but he had some trouble finding a club. Clubs that were interested in signing him during the summer were :  Genoa,Udinese,Torino,Espanyol,Celta de Vigo and Bordeaux.

 

Ater his week trial at Manchester City failed in january 2007, FC Torino offered Coco a 6 month loan spell. Francesco was reunited with his friend Abbiati at Torino and had worked very hard on his come-back. He played with FC Torino until the end of the season 2007-2008.

 

In the summer of 2007, Francesco had several offers from clubs, including Saint Etienne, but he failed to reach an agreement. In september 2007 Francesco decided to quit his footbal career and joined the cast of the TV show "Isola dei famosi" on Honduras. He gained the sympathy of the public, but missed "il mondo del calcio" and tried to find a club in january 2008. He even offered to join AC Milan for free and thought of following David Beckham's footsteps by joining LA Galaxy. In the end everything failed and Francesco started focusing on a new career in real estate. At the moment he is also pursuing an acting career.

Written by Kim