Carlo Ancelotti during the UEFA Champions League match between PSG and Real Madrid at Parc des Princes, Paris, February 2022.

11 amazing quotes about Carlo Ancelotti: ‘He’s like a big bear’

Carlo Ancelotti is one of the most decorated managers in modern football and has managed the likes of AC Milan, Real Madrid and Chelsea during his decorated career. 

Ancelotti is now in his second spell at Madrid and has reportedly emerged as a new managerial option for Manchester United on the recommendation of Sir Alex Ferguson.

But what is it about the three-time Champions League winner that continues to make him an attractive proposition to Europe’s biggest clubs?

While some have argued that Ancelotti’s tactical systems aren’t as refined as Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp’s, many people have pointed to the Italian’s unparallelled man-management skills and the emotional intelligence that has enabled him to manage some of football’s biggest egos.

We’ve compiled 11 amazing quotes about Ancelotti’s prowess as a manager, including contributions from Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andrea Pirlo.

Cristiano Ronaldo

“Mr Ancelotti was an unbelievable surprise,” Ronaldo said back in 2015. “In the beginning, I thought he was more a tough person, more kind of arrogant, and it was the opposite.

“He’s like a big bear, I can say. He’s a cute guy, such a sensitive person. He spoke with us every day. Not just with me but with all the players. He had fun with us.

“He’s an unbelievable person. I just wish every player could have an opportunity to work with him because he’s a fantastic guy, a fantastic coach and I miss him a lot because we won many trophies together.

“And I wish to work with him one day again.”

John Terry

Ancelotti is famed for his adaptability but Terry has admitted that the decorated manager struggled when he first arrived at Chelsea in 2009.

Terry told The Coaches’ Voice: “What I really loved about Carlo [Ancelotti] is his man-management, the way he adapted as well – because he had a way of coaching that probably didn’t suit English football.

“But he adapted very quickly, when speaking to me, Frank [Lampard], Didier [Drogba], he wanted to pick our brains: ‘Is this too much of tactics for the players to do? Are we doing too much of this? I want to get the right balance.’

“I’ve never had a manager actually, in probably all my career, that asked the players and gave them a bit of responsibility.

“He made you feel the togetherness was incredible, and we went on to win some big things.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“I have a fantastic relationship with Ancelotti and I don’t want him to leave the club,” Ibrahimovic said when rumours of Ancelotti’s departure from PSG emerged in 2013.

“He is the only coach I have had who has such an excellent rapport with his players, even more so than Jose Mourinho.

“He always explains his decisions to the players when he benches someone. When we won the title, he gathered us in a small room to thank us personally and he had a personal message for all of us.”

Chris Brady, who co-wrote Ancelotti’s book Quiet Leadership in 2016, interviewed Ibrahimovic and recalled:  What Zlatan said was interesting, he said: ‘I’ve had coaches who are slightly better at certain things, but he’s the best coach, because he’s the best at football and he’s the best man.’

“Zlatan, as he says in his book, hates Guardiola, because he thinks he’s a coward. He thinks he doesn’t have any balls.

“Ibrahimovic got in a row about why he got subbed in a game. Guardiola sent a lieutenant to tell him about it, he wouldn’t front up. Zlatan said to me: ‘Is this a man?’ And in his book, he calls him a spineless coward.

“But Carlo would explain why players were dropped, and was very open, and Zlatan really likes that sort of thing. He likes people being men.”


In an interview with Sky Sports in 2020, Kaka heaped praise on Ancelotti who managed him at AC Milan for six seasons.

“Everyone you work with can teach you something, whether it is tactically, technically or just something personal,” the legendary Brazilian said. But Carlo was the best one for me because he brought the very best out of me.

“The most impressive characteristic that he has got, in my opinion, is his ability to manage people. Man-management is so important.

“Of course, he is really good with tactics and he understands the game and everything, but it was how he managed the players.

“You have a squad of 25 players and you can only put 11 on the field. What are you going to do with the others? How are you going to keep them motivated?

“He knew how to do that. Everywhere he goes, when he leaves, he leaves this nice feeling with the players’ hearts.”

READ: A tribute to Kaka, the ‘rare piece of talent’ who belonged to Jesus

Frank Lampard

“I’ve been influenced by people and I was influenced by him as a player and as a man at the time,” Lampard said before his Chelsea side faced Everton in 2020.

“He’s right at the top when I speak about the managers I’ve worked with – his huge success he has had in his career, working at various clubs and one-to-one I found him a great coach and a great man.”

Joe Cole

The ex-Chelsea midfielder told Jamie Carragher’s The Greatest Game podcast: “When he first arrived we had a team meal and I was late for it and there was only one seat next to the gaffer.

“You walk in and you’re like, “Oh shit, I have to sit next to the gaffer.” And I see all the lads not knowing what to do and straight away he’s given me a shot of grappa.

“I thought, well this is a test. So I did the shot, cheers boss, bang. I did it and he just poured another one for me. We were just doing shots of grappa all night me and Carlo.

“He embraced us and the lads loved him. Even when he left me out of teams, I still loved him. He had a brilliant way about it.”

Jose Mourinho

Not many human beings have earned public praise from Mourinho – but Ancelotti was the recipient of a gushing eulogy before Everton’s meeting with Tottenham in July 2020.

“I think everyone in football admires Carlo [Ancelotti] as a coach and as a person,” Mourinho told reporters.

“If you don’t know him as a person at least you know him as a coach. I like him so much as a person that I’m going to say the obvious, which is that he is one of the top managers in the world in the last two decades and of course now.

“As a person, I’ve had the privilege of knowing him for a few years, to stay and be with him a few times, at UEFA meetings or other different occasions and I just love Carlo.

“I think he is a fantastic guy so I think I am going to break the rule of one-metre distancing and I’m going to hug him because I like Carlo very much.”

Andrea Pirlo

“He’s a great coach who likes to play good football and his teams play with real style,” Pirlo once told Marca.

“He has a good footballing philosophy. I have nothing but good things to say about him, Carlo is a friend, a great person. He’s an outstanding coach, who treats his players well and is well-liked inside the dressing room.”

The World Cup winner almost followed Ancelotti to Chelsea in 2009. Recalling the proposed move, Pirlo said: “Carlo was like a father and a teacher for me, a kind, friendly man who knew how to make things fun.

“I’d spent the best years of my career with him. If you’re a player who wants to get on and give everything, you won’t find anyone better than him.

“Carlo was my motivation for agreeing to head to London.”

Alessandro Nesta

“Ancelotti is a second father,” Nesta told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “You live well with him but he demands a lot.

“I would have done anything for him. He never abandons his players, even if they’re injured. He’s a sponge who absorbs problems and lets the team calm down.

“[Silvio] Berlusconi and [Adriano] Galliani were used to winning and they put pressure on him, but he always came to the pitch with a smile on his face.”

Now embarking on his own career in coaching, having most recently taken charge of Frosinone, Nesta admits to looking up to his former boss.

“Ancelotti inspires me in his way of managing the dressing room,” Nesta said. “And the important players. It’s not easy to manage champions.”

Paul Clement

Clement, who has previously worked as Ancelotti’s assistant at Chelsea, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in his career, is probably better placed to identify the Italian’s strengths than almost anybody.

And, speaking in an interview with The Coaches’ Voice, Clement opened up on a fascinating tactics meeting when they were both at Chelsea.

He said: “I was standing at the front with the marker pen and the flip chart, and he (Ancelotti) started off the team talk the night before the saying: ‘This is the last game of the season, we know what we’re able to do and we know the opposition. What do you think the tactics should be?’

“And then there was a silence.

“The players, obviously, hadn’t had this kind of question asked to them before, but gradually the hands started to go up and the points started to come down.

“Before you knew it, we had a list of defending points and a list of attacking points, and that was it.

“Team talk was done, tactics were decided and the players went on and delivered.

“Sometimes coaches are scared of that – of giving all that responsibility, but ultimately that’s what it’s all about.”

Vinicius Jr

Vinicius Junior is currently enjoying the best season of his career under Ancelotti, having scored 15 goals and provided nine assists for Real Madrid this season.

And, when asked about Ancelotti’s influence on his form, Vinicius told TNT Sports Brasil: “I have worked a lot and I have the confidence of the coach, the staff, the players, the president and all of the club.

“I am happy because each day I help the club more.

“Ancelotti gives us all confidence…me, Rodrygo, Camavinga, Fede (Valverde), he knows what we need to be able to help the club as quickly as possible.

“I have learned a lot from all the coaches and with Ancelotti, I am learning a lot.”

By Michael Lee

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