Milan's Prince crowns dream year

ROME - It was a signing few would have predicted but Kevin-Prince Boateng's first season with AC Milan reached a dramatic climax on Saturday as the Rossoneri clinched their first title in seven years.

Needing a point at the Stadio Olimpico against Roma to break Inter Milan's five-year stranglehold on the scudetto, Milan emerged triumphant after a goalless draw.

Germany-born Boateng, selected again ahead of Antonio Cassano and Pato, could not stop smiling amid pitch-side celebrations in front of 10,000 travelling fans.

"It's difficult to find words for the way I'm feeling right now," the 24-year-old told Reuters. "It's unbelievable. I want to dedicate the title to my wife and child.

"We've been celebrating in the dressing room too and I'm sure we'll have some more drinks tonight," said the Ghanaian international. "We've put up with a lot of pressure in the past few months. It's not been easy but we showed we can do it."

After missing a penalty playing for Portsmouth in last season's FA Cup final, Boateng had an exceptional World Cup for Ghana before a complicated move to Serie A where he plays for AC Milan but is jointly owned by Genoa.

"I never had any doubts about moving - I'd have swum the sea to play for Milan," he said, feigning a breast stroke and revealing one of the many tattoos that cover his body.

"It's been an unbelievable year of ups and downs, but it was not easy in the beginning. I had to get into the team, learn a new language and a different style of football.

"My team-mates helped me along the way and it's a great feeling to have something to show for all the effort."

Despite playing alongside some of the world's most gifted attacking players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pato, Antonio Cassano and Robinho, Boateng chose a defender as the Milan player that had most impressed him this season.

"This team has a some real superstars but Thiago Silva is the one that has really surprised me," he said. "He has been amazing this season, and for me he is the best defender in the world."

With his industry and never-say-die attitude, the 'Prince' has become a firm favourite with many Milan fans happy to see an alternative to the fading powers of Ronaldinho and David Beckham.

"Winning the title makes me proud but now I just want to rest," he said. "I've really had to push myself but I'm physically and mentally tired. I need a holiday."

But there is no celebratory return to Milan or the beach just yet. Next stop for Boateng and the Rossoneri is a midweek date in Palermo in the semi-final second leg of the Italian Cup.