The ‘Pirate’ Raggi, from “bin” to symbol of Monaco: captain and champion with Mbappé

He left Italy in 2012 and has never returned. Seven seasons at Monaco, where he took everything he thought he couldn’t take anymore.

We are in 2012. Andrea Raggi is a 28-year-old Italian defender who has to decide whether to renew with Bologna and continue his discreet (but difficult to improve) career in Serie A or to do something unthinkable, that is to accept the offer of Monaco, who crashed disgraced in Ligue 2 but with a potential revival project in which the Russian tycoon Rybolovlev seems willing to invest good money.

And that’s also why Raggi initially decided to move to Montecarlo. The salary they offer him is much higher, so why not. Why not give it a try. After all, Claudio Ranieri is on the bench and it was he who wanted him in the team. Raggi thinks that however it goes it will be a good experience. He does not in the least imagine that the one at Monaco will not be only a good experience, but the best of his career.

In Ligue 2 Raggi is a permanent starter and immediately wins the championship. The following year Rybolovlev begins to do what he promised by bringing to the Principality in one fell swoop James Rodriguez, Falcao, Ricardo Carvalho, Joao Moutinho And Kondogbia. For many on that team, Raggi is practically an intruder. Yet he is always there, always on the pitch, always giving everything. What he lacks technically he makes up for with his head. The coach and his teammates feel it. He is the real leader of the locker room.

I don’t know if it’s the Italian mentality, but he’s someone who always wants more “, Germain will say about him.

The fact is that Raggi reaches the Champions League. He made his debut in the top European competition at the age of 30. He who had barely played three international games in his career between the club and the Under 21 national team. He arrives in the Champions League and also in this case he is not passing through. After Ranieri, he proves to the new manager Jardim that he can be at that level. And in fact he plays practically all the games, up to the quarter-finals lost against Juventus.

Jardim uses it everywhere: central defender, right or left back. The important thing is that Raggi is on the pitch. The 2016/17 season is that of miracles. Raggi also receives a proposal from Inter, but decides to decline it and sign the renewal with Monaco.

“I was doing so well in Monte Carlo that I would have refused Barcelona too.”

The choice, once again, is the right one. Monaco rewrites history: they win the championship ahead of PSG and climb up to the Champions League semifinals by eliminating Guardiola’s Manchester City in the round of 16 in an epic double confrontation: defeated 5-3 in the first leg match at Etihad, Monaco flips all in the return match at Louis II, winning 3-1. Raggi surrenders after injury 70 extraordinary minutes during which you eat Kun Aguero. One minute after his departure from the field, Monaco takes goals, before the goal of the definitive qualification scored by the future Milan player Bakayoko.

In that Monaco, then eliminated in the semifinals once again by Juventus, he shines the rising star of Kilyan Mbappé. Raggi is enjoying his frightening growth in the front row, he and Mbappé are the two sides of the same coin. Raggi is the top player behind the scenes, pocketed at the champions’ partythe. Mbappé the cover man, the emblem of modern football, potentially the strongest player in the world. Opposites winning together, two parallel lines that normally should never meet.

This also leaves Maurizio Zamparini stunned, who at the time of Palermo had paid out 7 million euros to buy a young Raggi from Empoli, only to download him without almost a reason.

“Let’s just say it wasn’t really a bargain. Raggi was a bin with us and not surprisingly, for two years, I gave him around, even paying him his salary. Then football is strange and today he plays in France in Monaco together with Falcao“.

Words that make it clear why Raggi never returned to Italy. Not even to wear the national team shirt. That call, in fact, never came: “Yet I would have deserved a presence”, Rays himself confessed a few years later, who got nothing more than a few chats with the then coach Prandelli.

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In the end, his only national team was that of the Principality. Seven seasons, 230 appearances, 10 goals, a French champion title and a Champions League semi-final. The captain’s armband to consecrate him and legitimize him as a symbol of the club.

Andrea Raggi

AS Monaco

When I went down to Ligue 2, someone called me crazy, but I knew what I was doing. And the facts have proved me right. The ride from Ligue 2 to the title of champion of France will remain with him for many years. And Monaco has turned my life around for me personally. We have awakened France. There was a moment in my career when I seemed destined to play in a low Serie A, to always fight for salvation. But in life you need character, perseverance, strength. I went on to win the championship and played almost 30 games in the Champions League as a starter. I am not a whore, I come from a working class family, I remain humble. But if I got here it is for merit. I promised that if we won the championship I would have the Monaco crest tattooed with the symbol of the Pirate. Everyone here calls me that because I’m always on the spot, I never give up“.

A promise from the ‘Pirate’ and not ‘from the pirate’. In fact it has been maintained. Raggi wanted to impress the Monaco and his enterprise on his skin. He has never looked back, since that summer of 2012 when he preferred the uncertainty of becoming someone to the certainty of being just one of many.