It must have been a memorable year for Francesco Coco. The 24-year-old player has been making his point in the Serie A football scene for the past year. He started off the beginning of last year still as a player for the Turin side, Torino, and continued to be that until the end of the 1999/2000 season.
Returning to AC Milan after one whole season in Torino at first looked as a dead end to his career in Italy. The size of the club with its many international players didn’t support Coco’s chances for the future. He even had a plan to leave the club to join AS Monaco, France, as reported by several newspapers, for Lit.22 billion (around £7m). Fortunately, this was only a rumour, although he did admit that he thought he was not going to stay in the rossonero club for very long.
In the summer, Coco joined the U-21 Italian national team for the U-21 European Championships campaign. The result is a more successful achievement from the U-21 Azzurri than the senior ones. They became European champions whereas the senior team can only manage to come out as a runner-up.
Following the Euro Championship was the Olympic Games 2000 in Sydney, Australia. However, the young midfielder was left out of the team and did not join fellow AC Milan teammates such as Christian Abbiati, Gennaro Gattuso and Massimo Ambrosini in search for gold in Sydney 2000. Of course, he was a trifle disappointed but he had another positive outcome from not going Down Under. He scored his first goal for AC Milan.
It was in the Champions League campaign, in a game against Besiktas of Turkey (13/09/00), did Coco score his very first goal for AC Milan. It was an equalizer that boosted the team’s spirit to later on win the game 4-1. A week later, in a game against Barcelona of Spain (26/09/00), he scored his second goal and assisted striker Oliver Bierhoff to make AC Milan win the game 2-0 in the very prestigious match. Surely, two goals in the interval of two weeks is not bad at all for a defending midfielders.
Coco’s elation did not stop there. For the very first time, Coco was chosen to play in the senior Azzurri team. He joined the likes of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta, Stefano Fiore, Filippo Inzaghi, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero in the World Cup 2002 Qualifiers against Romania and Georgia in October 2000. His playing in the senior team received many compliments from many parties. Since then he has been called up by Il Mister Trap for national team matches.
His goals and participations for AC Milan and in the national team were unfortunately also trailed with several minor injuries in the season. At least twice he missed some important campaigns in the Serie A as well as the Champions league. However the injuries did not harm him overmuch until he couldn’t play for the remaining of the first half of the 2000/2001 season.
Now, after playing for 1,512 minutes in 20 official games with AC Milan, Coco is set to look to the future and certainly hopes to do better. No doubt, he targets a spot in the national team for the upcoming World Cup 2002 in Japan and Korea as well as the scudetto and the Champions League titles.
If last year was not “COCO YEAR” then the least that can be said about him is of course “So far so good”, if not “Well done!”