MILAN (Reuters) -- AC Milan named unheralded Massimiliano Allegri as their new coach on Friday, propelling the former Cagliari boss to the hotseat of one of Europe's top clubs just two years after he was managing in the third tier.
Largely unknown outside Italy, Allegri cultivated an attractive brand of attacking football when leading unfashionable Sassuolo to promotion to Serie B in 2008.
He was then plucked out of obscurity by top-flight side Cagliari where he continued his good work for two seasons.
"AC Milan announce that Massimiliano Allegri is the new first-team coach. The coach has signed a contract until June 30, 2012," a club statement said.
The 42-year-old replaces Brazilian Leonardo, who took over from Chelsea-bound Carlo Ancelotti last year but left by mutual consent last month after guiding Milan to third in Serie A following clashes with owner Silvio Berlusconi over tactics.
The appointment of rookie Leonardo was seen by Milan fans as a cheap option as he was already on the payroll as technical director.
The arrival of Allegri rather than a big-name manager may be viewed by the same supporters as further proof that Berlusconi has tightened spending during the economic crisis but also wants to tighten his grip on team affairs.
Milan's assistant boss Mauro Tassotti and youth team head Filippo Galli were also in the running for the role, with Milan deciding that low-profile names with clear coaching attributes fitted their new model better.
Allegri proved his coaching ability by winning Italy's "Golden Bench" award in February after his peers voted him Serie A boss of the year for his attacking play and good use of modest players and funds.
Cagliari sprang a big surprise in April by sacking him, in the midst of their second steady season in mid-table, with reports saying the side were annoyed with their promising young coach for courting other clubs while form suffered.
Allegri's move to Milan took several weeks to be finalised because he was still contracted to Cagliari despite being sacked and club president Massimo Cellino was reluctant to let him go given his anger at the coach's last few months in charge.