Manchester United legend Andrew Cole insists there’s no such thing as a friendly against AC Milan after the announcement of the first ever International Champions Cup game in Wales.
The two giants of European football will clash at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on August 3.
It will be their third and final game in this year’s International Champions Cup, the premier summer international club tournament, following fixtures against Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur.
United and AC Milan have met on ten occasions since 1958, with both sides claiming five victories, and former England and Red Devils striker Cole is looking forward to another thrilling clash.
“It’s going to be a special game because it’s two clubs steeped in great history and tradition, two clubs that have won the European cup a few times,” said Cole.
“It’s two clubs that have always tried to play attractive football and they have great history, Milan are one of the biggest clubs in Italy and United are one of the biggest in the world.
“Whether it’s a pre-season friendly or not, it’s a game that everyone can look forward to as they are such huge clubs and they have had some great encounters over the years.
“If I was playing now it would be the game I would love to be playing pre-season as you’re testing yourself early doors and providing great preparation for the season ahead.
“I’ve been fortunate to play here and I think it’s a fantastic stadium. It will be an opportunity for a lot of Manchester United fans in Cardiff and in Wales to have the opportunity to come and watch United.
“They will also get the chance to watch AC Milan, one of the great footballing teams and clubs, and it’s not very often you’re going to get these pre-season friendlies in your hometown.
“Fans can expect a good football match, they are two football clubs with great history, and while I know it’s pre-season, there is no such thing as a friendly and it should be a good game.”
United and AC Milan join ten more of the best clubs in the world to take part in the tournament’s seventh instalment, which includes rare match-ups, historic rivalries and past winners of the UEFA Champions League, all major European leagues and Liga MX.
Cole was joined at the launch by AC Milan legend Franco Baresi, who spent his entire 20-year career with the Serie A club, and the Italian central defender believes the game will be a memorable occasion for fans in Wales.
“It’s great for AC Milan to be able to play great teams like Manchester United, with such a great history behind them and great players, it’s always fascinating,” said Baresi.
“The rivalry is so intense because it’s two great teams, AC Milan and Manchester United are known throughout the world and they have fans throughout the world.
“It’s outside of the normal season but it will show where the two sides are in their preparations, it will provide a benchmark for AC Milan going into the new season.
“We hope there will be a lot of people coming to the Principality Stadium because Manchester United against AC Milan in Cardiff does not happen every day.
“It will be a great occasion and a great show for everyone in attendance. It’s the first time the teams will play in Cardiff and we know there is great passion here for football.”
A total of 18 ICC matches will be played across the United States, Europe and Asia from July 16 to August 10, with Cardiff’s Principality Stadium playing host to one of three fixtures in Europe, with Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Friends Arena in Stockholm hosting the other two.
Manchester United face AC Milan in the International Champions Cup at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on 3 August, KO 5.30pm. Tickets available from £25/£10 from www.ticketmaster.co.uk