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European Cup History: Maldini linked in Milan pride
24.5 || Seamus

Maldini linked in Milan pride

Milan will be making their tenth appearance in the 50th Final of Europe’s most prestigious club competition. Football Italia turns back the pages of their illustrious past and reveals a famous link.

Paolo Maldini completed a unique family double when he emulated his father Cesare and captained Milan to their penalty shoot-out victory over Juventus in the Champions’ League Final at Old Trafford in May 2003. Never before had a son followed his father in skippering the same club to victory in Europe's premier competition - or any other major Final.

This was Paolo's fourth European Cup success with Milan, having played in the winning teams in 1989, 1990,1994 and the all-Italian affair of 2003. He was also in the teams beaten by Olympique Marseille in 1993 and Ajax Amsterdam in 1995. Only Real Madrid legends Francisco Gento (eight) and Alfredo Di Stefano (seven) have played in more Finals.

"To lift the Cup as captain two years ago was a huge joy for me," he said. "To be here again so many years after the first one in 1989, and to again follow in my father's footsteps, is something really special." Cesare led Milan to their first European Cup success when they beat Benfica 2-1 at Wembley 40 years before. Either Cesare or Paolo have been involved in all six of Milan's European Cup successes. Cesare skippered the side in 1963 and was assistant to Nereo Rocco when they won the trophy for the second time in 1969. Now 73, the former Azzurri boss is still the club's chief scout.

The Rossoneri’s six wins means they are second only to Real Madrid in the all-time winners’ list, four victories ahead of both Inter and Juventus. The Spanish giants won the first five competitions and have lifted the giant trophy another four times. But five appearances in the Final over the past decade makes Milan the most successful club side in Europe over that time.

Carlo Ancelotti is another man whose name is indelibly linked with Milan in the Champions’ Cup. A winner as a player in 1989 and 1990, he steered the Rossoneri to victory over Juventus in the penalty shoot-out two years ago – becoming one of the rare breed who’ve played and managed European Cup winners. Having been previously sacked by Juve, that win at Old Trafford had special significance.

Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko scored the winning penalty for Milan in that match. He’s one of 13 players that night who could re-appear for Milan in Istanbul, proving to clubs like Inter that constant player turnover isn’t the way to success. And Ancelotti might even find a space on his bench for Alessandro Costacurta who at 39 could make his fifth Final and earn a record of his own as being the competition’s oldest-ever player. If that happens no doubt Maldini – a mere 37 in June – will see it as another target to aim for in his never-ending quest for honours.
Purple path ends in gold
While Milan, Juventus and Inter have headed Italy’s glorious parade in the Champions’ Cup over the past 50 years, they weren’t the first to taste success in the competition. Fiorentina fans point to their great side of 1957 being the forerunners to Serie A glory.

With Milan beaten by Real Madrid’s eventual winners in the semi-final of the inaugural competition back in 1956, the Viola went one step better the following season. Watched by a crowd of 124,000 in the famous Bernabeu Stadium, Fulvio Bernadini’s reigning Serie A champions put on a brave show before going down 2-0 to a Madrid side playing on their own turf. It was the second of five-in-a-row triumphs for the Spanish kings.

Their third came a year later in Brussels. It was another Italian scalp, Milan the victims this time. The goals of Juan Schiaffino and Ernesto Grillo got Giuseppe Viani’s team there – including a famous semi-final victory over Manchester Utd’s ravaged and patched-up post-Munich line-up. The Rossoneri pair both scored in the Final, but Gento’s extra-time winner saw them off.

With Real winning the next two competitions and Benfica lifting the trophy the following two seasons, it wasn’t until 1963 that an Italian side finally got their name on the trophy. Cesare Maldini, a survivor from the 1958 side, was carried off shoulder high from the Wembley pitch with the famous trophy held aloft. Anything Milan could do, city rivals Inter could match – and indeed better. Although Helenio Herrera’s squad gained a fearsome reputation as dull counter-attackers, they were brilliant at it.

Their style, based on the infamous catenaccio defence, took them to successive European Cups in 1964 and 1965 against Real Madrid and Benfica. Alessandro Mazzola got two in their first Final. Brazilian winger Jair got the only but decisive goal against the Portuguese. A memorable hat-trick was well and truly ‘scotched’ by Glasgow Celtic, Jock Stein’s team coming from behind in 1967 to earn the title the Lisbon Lions.

Four of Inter’s veterans were to get a fourth shot in 1972, but again they were to fail at the last hurdle – Johan Cruyff’s double strike ending their hopes in Rotterdam. Ajax won that and repeated the feat the following season as Juventus made their first appearance in a major European Final. This was doubly sweet revenge for the Dutchmen who’d gone down 4-1 to Milan in the 1969 shoot-out in Madrid. Pierino Prati’s hat-trick sealed it for the Rossoneri who’d beaten the holders, Matt Busby’s Man Utd, in the semis.

With Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest dominating the 70s and early 80s, Italy had to wait until 1985 for their next winning performance. Juventus went down disappointingly to Hamburg in 1983 and Roma choked on penalties in front of their own fans – and Bruce Grobbelaar’s eccentric but effective goalkeeping – the following season.

The brilliant Frenchman Michel Platini was Giovanni Trapattoni’s ace as Juve reached the 1985 Final. His seventh goal of the tournament from the penalty spot clinched the Bianconeri’s first European Cup. But it was a hollow victory marred by the deaths of 39 Juve fans, crushed by a falling wall during the most violent scenes ever witnessed at a match.

Italian football took nearly four years to recover from the Heysel Stadium disaster. Then the limitless millions of Silvio Berlusconi brought a new golden age for Milan. Inspired by Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco Van Basten they carried all before them in Serie A and Europe. The three Dutch musketeers scored all the goals in successive victories over Steaua Bucharest and Benfica. The 4-0 win over the Romanians in 1989 was possibly the most comprehensive ever seen in a Champions’ Cup Final.

Arrigo Sacchi’s second victory a year later in Vienna against a Portuguese side coached by Sven Goran Eriksson ensured him and his team a place forever in the hearts of the Milan tifosi. The nucleus of that same side surprisingly failed to make it a hat-trick of wins though when they lost to Basil Boli’s Marseille goal in 1993. But with Mauro Tassotti and Maldini still in harness, they inscribed their names on the trophy again in 1994. Barcelona, who’d beaten Vujadin Boskov’s Sampdoria - containing Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli and Attilio Lombardo - thanks to Ronald Koeman’s extra-time free-kick at Wembley in 1992, had nowhere to turn this time.

Johann Cruyff couldn’t pull off his traditional magic from the bench. But his old side, Ajax, did in 1995 to continue Capello’s roller-coaster reputation in the competition. An emerging Patrick Kluivert got the only goal in Vienna to disappoint the amazing Maldini on his fifth appearance in the Final.

If the Milan run was over for a time, then Juve’s was just starting. Because of the events at Heysel eleven years earlier, many fans regard 1996 as their first true Champions’ Cup victory. But even then there was a touch of controversy, the match going into extra time before Marcello Lippi’s side won 4-2 on penalties. Angelo Peruzzi was the goalkeeping hero. But he couldn’t keep out Borussia Dortmund in the next year’s Final nor Real Madrid the following season. And there was similar heartbreak for another Juve goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, in 2003.

Can those who represent Italy in this year’s showpiece earn more glory but – more importantly – become only the eleventh Serie A side to lift that splendid piece of silverware?



9 Real Madrid (Spa)
6 Milan (Ita)
4 Ajax (Holl), Bayern Mun (Ger), Liverpool (Eng)
2 Benfica (Por), Inter (Ita), Manchester Utd (Eng), Nottingham Forest (Eng), Juventus (Ita), Porto (Por)
1 Celtic (Sco), Feyenoord (Hol), Aston Villa (Eng), Hamburg (Ger), Steaua Bucarest (Rom), PSV Eindhoven (Hol), Red Star (Yug), Barcelona (Spa), O.Marseille (Fra), B.Dortmund (Ger)

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