|Marco Van Basten
On the 31st of October 1964 Marco Van Basten was born in
the Dutch city of Utrecht. As a child the young Van Basten
dreamt, not of becoming a professional footballer, but rather
a world class gymnast - a dream he would later transfer to
the field with some of the most unbelievably agile goals ever
seen in the football world.
Marco began his career with a short lived spell at local
side Edilwijk before being whisked off to Dutch super club
Ajax in Amsterdam.
In 1980 at the Mundialito friendly-league in Milano, Johan
Crujff the leader and coach of the team, introduce to Sandro
Mazzola, the symbol-man of Inter, Marco Van Basten. Said Crujff:
"Look at him, he's the new Crujff". Mazzola looked
him with attention and so says now about that event: "Crujff
showed us Marco, we understood immediately that we were in
front of an amazing player". Marco had 16 years.
He played his first game for Ajax in the Eredivise on the
3rd of April 1982 in front of the Ajax faithful in the De
Meer stadium against Nijmegen, fittingly replacing the reigning
Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff and even managing to grab
a goal in the process.
The following season he scored 9 goals in 20 games but in
the 1983 - 84 season he set the Dutch league alight
and his consistency was evident immediately scoring an astonishing
28 goals in just 26 games.
By 1986 he had consolidated his position as the most lethal
forward in European football, winning the European Golden
Boot award with his 37 goal tally. In his time with Ajax Van
Basten had filled his personal trophy cabinet with two Dutch
Championships, two Dutch Cups and the European Cup Winners'
Cup. He played his final game for Ajax (a game he won for
Ajax), against Dynamo Dresden, in that European Cup Winners
Cup final. He had scored 128 league goals in just 143 games
at an unprecedented strike rate and was top scorer in Holland
During this time Silvio Berlusconi was busy rebuilding AC
Milan after corruption charges levelled at the preceding club
president had left Milan relegated twice in three seasons.
In 1987 Berlusconi set about his task by investing in world
class players - namely Gullit and Van Basten and adding Rijkaard
the following year to form an unforgettable Dutch triumvirate.
Berlusconi had to choose a new striker to buy.Hhe had 2 choices:
Marco Van Basten or Ian Rush. After having seen only 30 seconds
of a VHS about Marco, Silvio decided to buy "The Flying
He made his debut for Milan on 13th September 1987 in Pisa
and scored from the spot as Milan won 3 - 1. In his first
season at Milan however he played just 11 games scoring 3
goals as the Rossoneri won their first Scudetto since 1979.
His first season at Milan in 1987 - 1988 was plagued by an
ankle injury that would haunt him for the rest of his career.
As a result of his lack of matches for Milan he started the
1988 European Championships in Germany as a substitute - but
by the end of the tournament he was being hailed as the greatest
player in the World. In the tournament Van Basten destroyed
England on his own scoring a sensational hat trick, knocked
out the hosts with a late winner and scored one of the most
unforgettable goals ever seen with an amazing volley against
the Soviet Union in the final. He had made his mark on the
international scene but due to the desperate in-fighting and
inconsistency that was to dog the Dutch side over the coming
years it would be the only honour Marco would win for his
Marco returned to Milanello for the start of the 1988 - 89
season full of confidence and that autumn he was named the
1988 European Player of the year. He followed this up by scoring
19 goals in Serie A as well as being an integral part of the
Milan team that ripped apart the hapless Romanian side Steaua
Bucharest 4 - 0 in the Nou Camp to win the European Champions
Cup final with Van Basten scoring two along with his compatriot
Gullit who also scored a double. In the 1989 - 90 season Marco
repeated his 19 goal haul in Serie A to become Capocannoniere
and was once again heavily involved as Milan retained their
European crown defeating Portuguese champions Benfica 1 -
0 in Vienna with a Frank Rijkaard goal. The 1990 World Cup
finals in Italy were next on Marco's agenda and he went as
he went in search of the ultimate prize. The Dutch side however
had a tournament to forget before going out to Klinsmann's
Germany 1 - 2 in what many describe as the match of the tournament
for the right and wrong elements of football.
At the start of the 90 - 91 campaign Milan were attempting
to win their third consecutive European crown. Their will
to win however was overshadowed by their bad sportsmanship
when vice president Galliani ordered the team off the pitch
as they were losing when the floodlights failed in the semi-final
second leg tie against the French side Marseille. Red Star
Belgrade went on to take Milan's crown in a cynical final
while Milan themselves received a one year ban from European
club football. Van Basten scored 11 goals in Serie A that
season but it was surprise side Sampdoria who took the Scudetto.
Without European football to concentrate on in the 1991 -
1992 season Milan took Serie A by storm and reclaimed the
Scudetto while managing to remain unbeaten in Serie A for
the entire 34 game campaign - a record unlikely ever to be
broken - With 'Marco Goalo' scoring 25 goals to earn his second
Capocannonere title. it is worth to mention the game vs. Cagliari
in Sardinia. The first half was over and Cagliari was leading
1-0. During the half-time break, Van Basten had a discussion
with Capello. Noone knows what they have talked about but
when returning on the pitch Capello showed to Marco the number
"3" by making it with his fingers. Marco scored
a hat-trick in 18 minutes and secured Milan the victory.
The European Championships in Sweden saw some great attacking
football from the Dutch but they went out to late entrants
and eventual winners Denmark in a penalty shootout where Van
Basten, after his customary jump, missed from the penalty
It was Marco's last international tournament.
In the Autumn of the 1992 - 1993 season Marco was on top
of the footballing World. He was leading the Serie A goalsorers
charts with 13 goals and included in his extraordinary start
to the season came an incredible couple of games in the month
In a league game in Naples he scored four goals as Milan demolished
Napoli 5 - 1. He followed this up by scoring all four as Milan
thrashed Goteborg 4 - 0 in the Champions League which Milan
were dominating. Allied to this he was voted European Player
of the Year for a record equalling third time and he was also
playing his part as Milan smashed all unbeaten records in
Serie A, a record which would eventually see them remain unbeaten
for 58 matches.
For a joke of the destiny, Marco scored his first and last
goal of his Italian experience to the same goalkeeper, Nista.
Ferron is the goalkeeper that got more goals by Marco.
His extraordinary start to the season however was destroyed
with a recurrence of the ankle injury which had plagued his
When in the first months of 1993 Marco was operated for the
4th time at the ankle, the medical staff of Milan AC disagreed
with the operation, because they thought that another operation
could be extremely dangerous.
He missed the vast majority of the remainder of the season
playing only a couple of games before he was thrust back into
action in the European Champions League final against Marseille.
A tired looking Milan side lost 0 - 1 with Van Basten, who
created numerous chances for Massaro and Papin, playing his
last game for AC Milan.
18th August 1995, Luigi Berlusconi trophy, Milan-Juventus.
In this usual great classic of the summer there is a special
event: Marco Van Basten, the greatest european striker of
last 20 years, leaves the football. 85.000 people at San Siro
satnd-up and clap him as last wave.
Adriano Galliani so said when Marco left football: "The
football lose his Leonardo Da Vinci"
In the six years he had played with Milan he had played a
major part in catapulting them back to the pinnacle of World
football, removing them from the shadow of neighbours Inter
and laying down a solid foundation for future success.
He scored an incredible 90 goals in 147 Serie A games. He
picked up 3 Scudetto's, 2 European Cups, 2 World Club Cups,
2 European Super Cups. Personally Marco claimed 3 European
Footballer of the Year awards, 2 World Player of the Year
awards, FIFA World Player of the year and 2 Capocannonere
awards as Serie A top marksman. Not to mention that he has
a 92.3% percentage rate at penalty kicks.
Van Basten had made a legend of himself before his injury
dramatically shortened his brilliant career.
In the end he realised was fighting a futile battle against
one opponent he knew he could never get the better off - his
These days Marco, his wife Elisabeth (whom he married in 1992)
and their 3 children Alexander, Angelica and Rebecca have
two homes - one in Elisabeth's home village of Badhoevedorp
and another in Monaco. Marco spends a great amount of time
practising his golf handicap and is also a keen fan of tennis
- hobbies he enjoys a lot more than the pressure cooker atmosphere
of management which he says he will never try.
Marco Van Basten carried the torch of legends during his
time with AC Milan. A torch passed on to him by Maradona,
Cruyff, Pele, Puskas, Di Stefano et al.
He carried it with grace, dignity and a great love for the
game. In return the footballing World had taken Marco into
their hearts forever.
Marco is UNIQUE because he express alone that philosophy that
Dutch football made at the beginning of 70s. The universality
of one team is expressed only by one player that hasn't weak
points. Marco is able to shoot with both feet, is great with
head and he has a play vision of a real director, like Rui
Costa or Gianni Rivera.
With Franco Baresi and Gianni Rivera, Marco has been the
most loved player of AC Milan, that's because he talked little
and communicated more with the actions and the goals on the
field rather than with the words.
"Van Basten the divine!" wrote Gianni Brera, one
of the greatest Italian football journalists.
::3 x Dutch title
::3 x Dutch Cup
::3 x Dutch League top scorer
::3 x Italian title
::2 x European Super Cup
::2 x European Cup
::2 x Intercontinental Cup
::1 x Cup Winners Cup
::2 x Italian League top scorer
::1 x World Player of the Year award
::1 x Golden Boot award
::3 x European Footballer of the Year award
::2 x World Soccer Player of the Year award