From the day Inzaghi pulled you up for the match against Cesena, I started following you as a player. I would watch highlight tapes from your time in the Primavera and tell all my friends “just wait, this guy is going to shock the world”. Before I go into the unfair treatment you’ve been given, I’d like to tell you a bit about my background and why the club means so much to me.
I fell in love with football at a time where I was heavily bullied as a kid and needed an outlet. I started vehemently watching and following Milan just a year after the night in Istanbul, when I was 9 years old. It’s not quite the same in the United States because the passion for football just isn’t there. I’d wear Milan jerseys to school and kids would still pick on me and call me horrible names, but I wore that jersey proudly and smiled through the pain. I watched as the club celebrated their Serie A title in 2011, the last one before Juventus took the league by storm. From there, I had to watch as Milan disintegrated before our very eyes, as the club hierarchy were in shambles and the players that we both grew up loving either retired or left the side. We went through manager after manager with the team regressing faster than most teams were progressing.
While I didn’t necessarily agree with Mihajlović’s tactics, I was ecstatic when he announced you’d start against Sassuolo. I bought a subscription just to watch you play against Sassuolo and Inter in the TIM Trophy. Berardi’s free kick might have caught you cheating just a bit in your Serie A debut, but you were sublime nonetheless. From then on out, you were my favorite player at Milan because you were our light in the darkness, and you still are. You were the lifeblood of a team quickly bleeding out. It was your efforts that won us the Supercoppa and got us to 6th. The team played well enough to earn it too, but without you, 6th place was nothing more than a far cry from where we would’ve been sitting (most likely in 10th). I watched you debut for the Italian national side, and I couldn’t be any more proud.
Fast forward to today, where the hurt and betrayal cuts both ways. Being showered with fake money, scrutinized by the media, and receiving death threats is unacceptable for what you’ve done for us, and what you mean to the club and its fans. People will denounce you as a traitor or a snake, and I’m ashamed to admit a scathing tweet referring to you as a snake came from me as well, but let me explain. To find out my favorite player at the club wouldn’t be staying, a player who I was certain would join the likes of Rivera, Baresi, and Maldini, was heart breaking. I’ve never shed a tear over a transfer, but I had to shield my face at my desk job in Richmond, Virginia from my co-workers. The passionate fans of such a historic club don’t understand what they’re saying and doing until after it’s been done. I merely sent you a tweet and I feel remorse. Those who sent death threats must be reeling from the terrifying state they put you in. These fans feel the way that I do, though none of them might have the outlet that I do in this site to admit it. You may never see this and I may just be writing to those who follow our site, but I want to say from the bottom of my heart I am truly and deeply sorry for the backlash you’ve received since the decision. It pains me to hear that you cried and it pains me to hear that you truly felt scared for your safety because you never deserved that. Whether it was Raiola who influenced your decision or not, I know that Milan is always in your heart. Sometimes difficult career choices have to be made, and while I wish every day that you would re-sign with our beloved Rossoneri, I understand if the fans have further polarized your stance on your decision. Just know that while it seemed like hate, what you received from the fans was bred from a deep and passionate love for the club, one that I know you will always share.
Whether you decide to leave Milan physically is up to you, but you’ll always be a red and black at heart, and nothing the fans or the media say can take that away from you. I will cheer and support you wherever it is that you go (even though I despise Madrid and Manchester United) because you were integral in the rebuilding process of the club. Your ability had people noticing Milan again, and I’d like to think it contributed to the caliber of players we’re getting to come over. This isn’t a letter to convince you to stay (though if you did I’d shed tears of joy), no this is a letter to say thank you Gigio. Thank you for proving Italian football still produces world class talent. Thank you for your contributions that ultimately led us to our first stepping stone to restoring glory in the Europa League. Most importantly, thank you for what you did for me. You gave me hope for the club that got me through the hardest of times in my life, and that hope is now shining brighter than ever, even if we do part ways.
Grazie Donnarumma, sarete per sempre nei nostri cuori.