Wednesday, August 10, 2016

AC Milan Greatest All-time team

1969 European Cup

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
AC Milan All-Time Team Under Silvio Berlusconi
AC Milan All-Time Italian Team
AC Milan All-Time Foreign Player Team
AC Milan Brazilian Best XI
All-Time Team Under Fabio Capello (Club only)
All-Time Team under Carlos Ancelotti

This is my selection of a 25 member all-time team for the club.  The number 25 was chosen because it is the official squad size for the Champions' League.

Nicknamed "I Rossoneri", AC Milan is the second most successful club after Real Madrid in Europe.  At the time of writing, they have won the Euorpean Cup/Champions' league 7 times.  They have a strong team in the 1960's, winning the 1963 and 1969.  After many years of failure in the 1970's and early 1980's, Silvio Berlusconi bought the club in 1986. He turned the club into a dynasty.  The Dutch trio of Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard combined with the backbone of the Italian national team to form one of the greatest club sides in history.  
Champions' league 2003
Team
GK: Lorenzo Buffon (Italy)  
Lorenzo Buffon was one of the best goalkeepers in the 1950's and early 1960's.  He helped AC Milan to reach the Final of the 1958 European Cup Final.  He also played for Genoa C.F.C. (1959–60), F.C. Internazionale Milano (1960–63), and ACF Fiorentina (1963–64). His cousin is Gianluigi Buffon's grandfather.  He had 15 caps for Italy between 1958 and 1962.  He went to the 1962 World Cup Finals.

GK: Sebastiano Rossi (Italy)  
During a 21-year professional career, Sebastiano Rossi appeared in 346 Serie A games, most notably representing A.C. Milan (12 seasons) with which he won 12 major titles, including the 1994 Champions League.   Rossi held the record for the longest streak without conceding a goal in Serie A history. In an 11-match span, he kept a clean sheet for 929 consecutive minutes.  He was never capped by Italy.

GK: Fabio Cudicini (Italy)
Fabio Cudicini played Udinese, Roma, AC Milan and Brescia.  He was remembered for his two stints with AC Milan.  Between 1967 and 1972, he played for AC Milan. He helped Milan to win the 1969 European Cup.  Before Milan, he won the Inter-Cities Fair Cup with Roma.  His son is Carlo Cudicini. He was uncapped because he was playing the same generation with Dino Zoff, Lozenzo Buffon and Enrico Albertosi

RB: Mauro Tassotti (Italy)
After making his Serie A debut with Lazio, Mauro Tassotti went on to play with Milan for 17 years. He won 17 major titles with Milan, including five Serie A championships and three UEFA Champions League tournaments, reaching five finals in total.  He was a part of both Arrigo Sacchi's and Fabio Capello's AC Milan.  He also went to the WC in 1994, where Italy came second.

RB: Cafu (Brazil
Cafu is the all-time cap record holder for Brazil with 142 caps.  He is the only man to play in three WC finals, winning it in 1994 and 2002.  He was the captain of the 2002 team.  With Sao Paulo, he won two Copa Libertadores: 1992, 1993.  In Europe, he won a Cup Winners Cup with Real Zaragoza, and he also won a singe Champions League with AC Milan in 2006. He was South American Player of the Year in 1994.  

RB/SW: Cesare Maldini (Italy)
Cesare Maldini spent 12 seasons with AC Milan.  He was the captain of the 1963 European Cup winning team.  He also played for Torino at the end of his career. He picked up 14 caps for Italy between 1960 and 1962. He went to the 1962 World Cup Finals. After retirement, he became a successful coach.  His son is Paolo Maldini.

CB: Alessandro Nesta (Italy)
Alessandro Nesta is considered one of the best defender of his generation.  He was the Serie A defender of the Year for 4 times. He started his career with Lazio.  Later, he played with AC Milan where he won two Champions' league.  He also played in MLS.  For Italy, he earned 78 caps.   He played on the 2006 WC winning team, but injured in the third game of the tournament.  He also went to 1998 and 2002 World Cup Finals as well as the European Championship in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Alessandro Nesta
CB: Alessandro Costacurta (Italy)
Alessandro Costacurta  was Baresi's partner at central defense for both club and country. He was a part of 5 Champions' League winning team for AC Milan.  However, he only played 59 times for Italy because largely of injuries. He went to two World Cup Finals (in 1994 and 1998), as well as a European Championship in 1996. With Italy, he managed to reach the 1994 World Cup Final, which was lost against Brazil on penalties.

SW: Franco Baresi (Italy)
Franco Baresi was considered Italy's greatest libero.  He was capped 82 times between 1982 and 1994.  He led the Azzurri to the semifinal of the World Cup in 1990 and then, the Final in 1994.  However, he missed most of the tournament in 1994 through an injury, playing in the Final.  He was a part of the 1982 World Cup winning team, but he did not play a single match.  He was a one club man with AC Milan.  He is their captain for 15 years, where he won three European Cups and 6 Serie A titles. 
Franco Baresi
CB/LB: Paolo Maldini (Italy)
Paolo Maldini was considered the greatest leftback of all-time.  He won 26 trophies in his 25 year career with AC Milan, including 5 Champions' league trophies. He took part in three European Championships, and four World Cups. He reached the finals of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000, and the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1988, and was elected into the all-star teams for each of these tournaments, in addition to the Euro 96 all-star team.  He was capped 126 times for Italy.  
Paolo Madlini

CB/LB: Karl-Heinz Schnellinger (West Germany)
In his prime, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger was considered one of the best leftbacks in the world.  He participated in 4 World Cup Finals, unfortunaitely sandwiched between West Germany's two World Cup winning tournaments.  He was remembered one of the first German to star in Italy.  He had a remarkable stint with AC Milan and As Roma.  He won the European Cup in 1969 with Milan.

CM: Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands)
Frank Rijkaard was one of Netherlands' most important player. Capped 73 times.  He won the 1988 European Championship in West Germany. He notably played for Ajax and AC Milan. He spent 5 seasons with AC Milan when Milan was considered the greatest club team in the world, winning two European Cup. In 1995, he led a young Ajax team to their famous Champions' League victory.  That team is also considered one of the greatest club sides ever.

CB/DM:  Marcel Desailly (France)
Marcel Desailly was considered to be one of the greatest defensive players during the 1990's.  He played 116 times for France, winning the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.  He was the first player to win the European Cup in consecutive seasons with different clubs, when he won it with Marseille in 1993 and AC Milan the following year.  He also played for Chelsea at the end of his career.

CM: Andrea Pirlo (Italy)
Andrea Pirlo started as an attack midfielder with Inter Milan without success before becoming a regista.  He redefined the regista role in the modern game.  He had 116 caps for Italy.  He won the World Cup in 2006 and took Italy to the Final of Euro 2012.  For his club career, he was known for his career with AC Milan.  He played over 280 matches for them, winning two Champions' League titles.  He switched to Juventus late in his career and played for New York City FC.
Andrea Pirlo 
LW: Roberto Donadoni (Italy)
Roberto Donadoni was one of Italy's greatest wingers.  He was a vital part of AC Milan's squad under both Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, winning six Serie A titles, three European Cups, four Italian Supercups, three European Super Cups, and two Intercontinental Cups during his time at Milan. Between 1986 and 1996, he earned over 60 caps for Italy.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990 and 1994, and the European Championship in 1988 and 1996.

AM: Dejan Savicevic (Montenegro)
Dejan Savicevic was a part of the Red Star Belgrade team that won the 1990–91 European Cup before joining A.C. Milan in 1992. With Milan, he won three Serie A titles and the 1993–94 UEFA Champions League. His international career was limited due to sanction placed on his country.  He did not play in a major tournaments at the peak of his career.  However, he represented Yugoslavia at the 1990 and 1998 World Cups.  He had over 50 caps.
Dejan Savicevic
AM/CM: Kaka (Brazil)
Kaka started his career with Sao Paulo in Brazil before moving to AC Milan in 2003.  He was the star player who helped Milan to win the Champions' League in 2007 and he himself won the Ballon d'or on the same year.  In 2009, he left Milan for Real Madrid.  At the end of his career, he played for Orlando City in the MLS. For Brazil, he was capped 92 times.  He was a young and seldom used player at the World Cup in 2002.  He was a key player after the World Cup Finals in 2002.
Kaka
AM: Gianni Rivera (Italy)
Gianni Rivera was Italy's "Golden Boy"of the 1960's and perhaps their best player of his generation.  He won the Ballon d'Or in 1969.  He led AC Milan to win two European Cups in 1963 and 1969. He was capped 63 times, scoring 15 goals, at four World Cup Finals (1962, 1966, 1970, and 1974). Rivera is remembered for scoring the decisive goal in Italy's extra-time win over West Germany in the semi-final of Mexico 1970.  Italy reached the Final of that World Cup Final before losing Pele's Brazil.
Rivera the Golden Boy
AM: Nils Liedholm (Sweden)
Nicknamed Il Barone (The Baron), Nils Liedholm is probably one of  Sweden's greatest players.  He played for AC Milan between 1949 and 1961. He also won the Latin Cup in 1951 and 1956 and was the captain of Milan that played in the 1958 European Cup Final that lost against Real Madrid. He was a part of the famous "Gre-No-Li" line for both club and country.  He won a Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics and helped Sweden to finish second at the World Cup Finals in 1958. 
Gre-No-Li
SS:  Juan Schiaffino (Uruguay)
At international level, Juan Schiaffino won the 1950 FIFA World Cup with the Uruguayan national team, and also took part at the 1954 FIFA World Cup; he later also represented the Italy national football team. He was considered one of the greatest Uruguayan players in history.  For club level, he played in Uruguay for Penarol and in Italy with Milan and Roma. 

AM: Ruud Gullit (Netherlands)
Ruud Gullit was the iconic captain of Netherlands 1988.  In 1987,  he moved from PSV Eindhoven to A.C. Milan for a world record transfer fee.  He was an important player for AC Milan during the 1980's where they won two straight European Cups. He was the European Footballer of the Year in 1987 and the World Soccer Player of the Year in 1987 and 1989.  He spent one season with Sampdoria winning the Italian Cup in 1994.  He later played for Chelsea as a sweeper.
Ruud Gullit
ST: Jose Altafini (Brazil)
In Brazil, Jose Altafini was known as Mazzola in Brazil because of his resemblance with  Italian attacking midfielder Valentino Mazzola.  He started to use his real name Jose Altafini after he joined AC Milan in 1958.  He is the current 4th top-scorer in Italy's Serie A history. For the national team, he was the original starter on the 1958 World Cup team, but was replaced in the semifinal and the final.

ST: Gunnar Nordahl (Sweden)
Gunnar Nordahl is probably one of both Sweden and AC Milan's greatest players.  He is played with Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm to form the renowned Gre-No-Li line at AC Milan.  He was Serie A top scorer for 5 times.  He is the all-time leading scorer at Milan.  He won the Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics, but was not selected for the WC in 1950.  He played two years with Roma before retiring.  His brother Bertil and Knut also played for Sweden.

ST: Andrei Shevchenko (Ukraine)
Andrei Shevchenko is considered one of the greatest Ukrainian player in history.  He won the Ballon D'Or in 2004 and came 3rd on the World Player of the Year.  He started his career with Dynamo Kyiv. He was best remembered for his stint with AC Milan, winning the Champions' League in 2003.  He won 111 caps and scored 48 goals for the Ukraine.  He led Ukraine to qualify for the World Cup Finals in 2006.

ST:  Marco Van Basten  (Netherlands)
Marco Van Basten was probably the second best Dutch player and among the best striker in football's history.  He won the Ballon d'Or three times.  He led Oranje to the victory at the European Championship 1988 scoring 5 goals at the tournament. It was Holland's first victory in a major tournament. His goal in the Final is considered one of the best in history of the tournament. He started his career with Ajax.  He also won two European Cups with AC Milan, a club side that was considered the best ever.  
Marco Van Basten

Honorable Mention
Clarence Seedorf, Enrico Albertosi, Christian Abbiati, Romeo Benetti, Giovanni Trapattoni, Demetrio Albertini, Zvonimir Boban, Gennaro Gattuso, Carlo Ancelotti, Gunnar Gren, Filippo Inzaghi, Dida, Giovanni Galli, George Weah, Renzo De Vecchi, Roberto Rosato, Kakhaber Kaladze, Massimo Ambrosini, Angelo Anquilletti, Aldo Boffi, Giuseppe Santagostino, Pierino Prati, Rui Costa.
Rijkaard, Van Basten and Gullit

Squad Explanation
-- This all-time team is very difficult to select. There are too many great players.  They took over most of the spots before I even started to do my research.  Paolo Maldin, Franco Baresi, Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit, Andrei Shevchenko and Gianni Rivera are my automatic selections.  I would probably take Kaka, Alessandro Nesta, Jose Altafini,  Juan Schiaffino, Cesare Maldini, Dejan Savicevic and Andreas Pirlo.  And I know that at least one of the Gre-No-Li would be on the team.  Basically, I started with just around 15 spaces and three of whom were goalkeepers.
-- Albertosi Enrico was old when he joined Milan.  His best years were behind him. Dida actually deserved to be on the team.   He had won a Champions League with the club. He also played over 300 games for the club. In the end, I went with three old-timers: Lorenzo Buffon and Fabio Cudicini.  And Sebastiano Rossi won a Champions' League and he was also a long-time servant to the club.
-- Lorenzo Buffon is often listed as AC Milan's greatest goalkeeper. Please do not confuse him with Gianluigi Buffon.  The two Buffons are actually related.
-- I selected Cesare Maldini because he was the the captain who brought home the first European Cup.
-- The team is dominated by players playing under Silvio Berlusconi, who turned the club into the second most successful clubs in European history.  I did another blog team just for that period of time.
-- Mauro Tassotti had a long service to the club. Besides, he was a key part of two great Milan teams. The rest of the defenders are considered among the greatest ever played the game in their position.  The same applied to Alessandro Costacurta. 
--  Demetrio Albertini, Zvonimir Boban, Gennaro Gattuso and Carlo Ancelotti were overlooked because of too many great central midfielders. Rijkaard and Desailly were among the greatest ever in their position.
-- Andreas Pirlo is one of the most underrated players in history.  He was critical to the successes of AC Milan.  His departure to Juventus hurt the team. I could not take his midfield partner Gennaro Gattuso, but I took Kaka.  He won the the Ballon d'or in 2007.  He also had a great performance in leading AC Milan winning the Champions League.
-- While George Weah was great at Milan, he did not win the European Cup/Champions League.  I tended to reward players with winning the bigger trophies. Milan happened to be a team full of championship winning teams.
-- Roberto Baggio's career with Milan was not as good as some of the players listed. His best years were not with the club.
-- Dejan Savicevic was underrated.  He was unable to participate in a major international tournament in his prime.  He often got overlooked as one of the all-time greats. He destroyed Johan Cruyff's Barcelona in the Final of 1994 Champions' League Final. His performance in the Final was considered to be one of the greatest individual performance in the history of the tournament.
-- I added Roberto Donadoni because I need a winger.  Besides, he was a major contributor to AC Milan's best years.
-- In his prime, Jose Altafini held many Serie A scoring records.  He beat out Filippo Inzaghi.  Inzaghi is underrated, but Jose Altafini held many Serie A records.  Inzaghi is not on the same level as Juan Schiaffino, Marco Van Basten and Andrei Shevchenko.  
-- Gunnar Gren was dropped because Milan has too many great attackers.  He is the third member of the "Gre-No-Li".  I cannot select everyone from that line. On the other hand, I selected all three of the famous Dutch trio from the 1980's.  AC Milan of the late 1980's were one of the best ever club side.

Formation 
I opted for a formation sisimilar to the Christrmas tree formation used by Carlos Ancelotti.  I started Van Basten with Nordalh.  Shevchenko was the alternative. Gullit played on the right side. He is vertsatile enough to adopt this unfamiliar role. I chose Tassotti over Cafu because Tassotti was more "Milan" than Cafu.




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