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Clarence Seedorf pledges to take AC Milan back to the top

Photo: Fabio Castro/AGIF/AP

Clarence Seedorf returns to AC Milan, facing a daunting task in his first managerial role.

MILAN (AP) - New AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf vowed on Saturday to take the club back to the top while helping his players ''rediscover joy in playing football.''

Seedorf signed a two-and-a-half year contract at AC Milan on Thursday, replacing Massimiliano Allegri, who was fired following Sunday's disappointing 4-3 loss at newly-promoted Sassuolo.

''I'm very happy to have returned home, I feel at home here, with a lot of desire to do well, to work hard and to transmit enthusiasm and joy,'' Seedorf said in his first press conference since taking charge. ''We're always very lucky to be able to do our job almost as if it was a hobby.

''These are my first words, to rediscover joy, enthusiasm and fun in playing football.''

Seedorf spent 10 years as a player with Milan, helping it win a number of trophies including two Champions League titles and two Serie A crowns. He also won the Champions League with Ajax and Real Madrid.

Milan is currently languishing in 11th place in the standings, just six points above the relegation zone. It faces a tricky match against high-flying Hellas Verona on Sunday.

''I think that difficult moments have to be analyzed with a view to finding solutions and never losing sight of the quality that we have here. The team definitely hasn't expressed its quality in terms of the numbers they've produced but that can happen and I have no doubt that the situation will come back to what it once was. It all depends on how you work, you need enthusiasm and to get people back to the stadium with a convincing style of play. It's easier to get results playing well.

''I don't want to talk about the league table because in certain situations it can be a terrible thing to look at. On a more positive point, no one is pointing the finger at anyone and we have very united group. We'll need time and the backing of our fans who will be, as always, the 12th man that I know so well from the delicate moments that I've been through in my career in which they've always been a positive presence. They'll help give the energy that the team needs and the team will give that energy back.''

Seedorf has been playing for Brazilian club Botafogo since leaving Milan in 2012 but the midfielder announced his retirement on Tuesday in order to take up the role as coach. It is his first managerial position at the age of 37.

''I feel very good and that's thanks to the Milan environment,'' Seedorf said. ''I was here for 10 years and coming back after being away, being welcomed here as I have been gives me a lot of energy and a will to get started. It's emotional to be here obviously. Everything I do, I do with a lot of intensity and I can't not be emotional about this great opportunity that I've been given.

''I have everything to prove, a new career begins for me now. I feel ready but it'll be the work I do and the results that'll show if I can face this new challenge. I feel ready, it's a challenge and I like challenges.''

Not only does Seedorf become the first Dutch coach in Serie A, but he is also only the third black coach after Jarbas Faustinho, who was in charge of Napoli in 1994, and Fabio Liverani, who managed Genoa for seven games this season.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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