Milan the power and the glory
AC Milan are an integral part of the fabric that creates the rich tapestry that is football history. They are a colossal club, with an incredible history, a massive support and a phenomenal tradition.
This history is littered with highs and lows that leave generation after generation looking up to the Rossoneri as heroes to the masses, providers of dreams and makers of legacy. They are living proof of the power of football.
They are one of Europe’s elite, and their best moments prove this as they are in all our memories and not just those of their fans. Milan’s best moments live in the memory of the entire footballing world.
The beginning of a bitter rivalry
The rivalry that is so evident between arguably Italy’s two biggest teams dates back to this game.
Even then it was a shock, as the team from Milan first stamped their authority on the giants from Turin. The "Grande Torino" team was sadly no more, and the fight to be Italy’s best was on.
It was a muddy and rainy day in Turin in 1950 when the Milanese came to town, and despite reports that Juventus were tired that day, they were still seen as favourites.
Milan played the Turin side off the field, with the legendary Gunnar Nordahl grabbing a hat-trick. It was a resounding win that lives on to this day in the hearts of the Rossoneri.
After the Second World War, Milan emerged as one of the major players in the Italian game. Their brand of football started to take its very early conceptual shape and focused around three extremely talented Swedes.
Gunnar Gren, Nordahl and Nils Liedholm all proved crucial in the Rossoneri’s march on the title, forming a blueprint of how future Milan teams should play.
The success in 1951 was poignant as it was the beginning of a number of successes in the era including Scudetto wins in 1955, 1957 and 1959, and two Latin Cups in 1951 and 1956.
In the 1960s, everyone was talking about Nereo Rocco and his new style of "catenaccio" football. This was a system that was soon to be taken on by most of Italy and arguably improved on by fierce rivals Inter.
It was using this system and by recruiting players such as Gianni Rivera and Jose Altafini that enabled the Milanese giants to secure a 2-1 win over Benfica at Wembley to earn them their first European Cup.
Interestingly, a certain Cesare Maldini, father of Paolo, won the Cup in the United Kingdom, a feat to be repeated by his son many years later.
Helenio Herrera's Inter dominated most of the 1960s and caused Milan much pain in the process. It was to their credit by the end of the decade they had regrouped and found a balance within the team and a group of players who could push them to success.
The 1969 season saw Milan face and overcome the embryo of the Ajax side that would dominate the 1970s, as well as going on to win the Intercontinental Cup against a resolute and determined Estudiantes de la Plata of Argentina. This went over two dramatic legs (3–0, 1–2). It was a glorious end to a frustrating decade.
Buongiorno Silvio Berlusconi
Love him or loathe him, Silvio Berlusconi saved Milan from a torrid period in which they bounced from Serie B to Serie A.
Without the financial and some may say political influence of the man, the Milan we know and love today would not exist.
Sometimes we want to associate a great footballing creation with a worthy benefactor, but it has been debated ever since.
You may argue, chastise, praise or preach about the man, but it was his influence that brought the Dutch trio of Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit to the club. This, and a host of other names, projected Milan back amongst the elite. In this era, Berlusconi was Milan.
Scudetto winners 1987-88
This was Milan’s first Scudetto since 1979, and it was one of their toughest to date.
Milan had a plethora of quality players in their ranks, all drilled by the now legendary Arrigo Sacchi. It was a title that would rip the heart out of Naples and give birth to a super power.
Napoli had stars like Careca and Ciro Ferrara in their ranks and most notably Diego Maradona.
The season was eventually won by Milan by only three points after they defeated Napoli in the final stages of the campaign.
The Dutch are coming.
Milan won their third European Cup, defeating Steaua Bucuresti 4–0 in the final in 1989 just before the World Cup came to Italy in 1990.
Italy was now the main powerhouse in world football, and when Calcio ruled the world, Milan were at the top.
Two goals each from Van Basten and Gullit in Barcelona sealed an emphatic victory against the Romanians, who were torn apart by the might of the Sacchi-Berlusconi era.
It was in these years that Milan created the reputation and expectations that they are beholden to today.
The greatest Milan side ever?
In 1994, the Gil Invicibili were born under strict taskmaster, master and tactician, Fabio Capello. In an amazing 58-game unbeaten run, Milan of this era are now often referred to as the greatest club side of all time and swept all before them.
A team consisting of now legendary names was absolutely scintillating. Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini in defence, along with Marcel Desailly and Roberto Donadoni in midfield. Add to this Dejan Savicevic, Zvonimir Boban and Daniele Massaro and it was evident that his team was ready for greatness.
In 1994, they played a Barcelona side consisting of Romario and Hristo Stoichkov. And, in fairness, Milan missed key names not mentioned above. However the solidarity, work ethic, and incredible belief and skill saw them romp to a 4-0 win that could arguably be classed as one the of the best games of all time.
Inter 0-6 Milan. It is unlikely that you will ever hear or see this result again.
Milan won the game convincingly and set the record for the biggest win in the Derby della Madonnina, thrashing a desperately poor Inter side.
The sides were both on 44 points, which was some 20 points behind leaders Roma before the match. There was little equality on the pitch with the now forgotten Gianni Comandini scoring twice for the Rossoneri.
In Istanbul, Milan did not deserve to lose to Liverpool. However, in one of the most remarkable Champions League finals of all time, the Rossoneri found themselves in disarray and eventually defeated.
Not long after, the teams would face each other again in the final, this time in Athens.
The Milanese had only one thing on their mind, and that was revenge. They imposed themselves from the off and dealt a lethal blow to the English side with Filippo Inzaghi scoring twice to lift the trophy in a 2-1 win.
It maintained their status as one of the major powers in European football and continued a long tradition.