AC Milan: The 20 Greatest Rossoneri of All-Time

Tim Fontenault@Tim_FontenaultCorrespondent INovember 24, 2011

AC Milan: The 20 Greatest Rossoneri of All-Time

0 of 21

    In 1899, an Englishman established a football club in the city of Milan. It was originally known as the Milan Football and Cricket Club, but that name changed to Associazione Calcio Milan, or AC Milan for short.

    Little did that man know that, as of 2011, his club would have achieved this incredible list of achievements:

    • 18 Italian top-flight league championships
    • five Italian Cups
    • six Italian Super Cups
    • seven European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles
    • two UEFA Cup Winners' Cups
    • five UEFA Super Cups
    • three Intercontinental Cups
    • one FIFA Club World Cup

    For years, AC Milan have been regarded as a giant of the game, always able to persuade world-class players to join their ranks and have gone about business the right way (minus the Calciopoli scandal).

    Through the years, Milan have always had superstars in their team. Some are considered the greatest of their generation, several among the best of all time.

    The 20 men in this list are the 20 greatest players to ever wear the red and black. The list does not take into consideration the player's history with other teams, only their time at Milan. Many were teammates; all were champions.

    This list is meant to pay tribute to legends of an incredible sport who deserve nothing but respect and to be remembered as some of the greatest players of all time.

    Who made the cut? Who is the greatest Rossonero of all time?

Honorable Mention: Herbert Kilpin, Founder of AC Milan (1899-1908)

1 of 21

    Position: Multiple

    Nationality: English

    Appearances: 23

    Goals: seven

    Honors:

    Italian Football Championship (3): 1901, 1906, 1907

    It is only fair to begin with the man who established what has become one of the most successful football clubs on the planet.

    Kilpin founded the club as the Milan Football and Cricket Club on Dec. 16, 1899, and acted as a player-manager.

    During his time at the club, the Rossoneri quickly established themselves as an Italian force, winning the national title in 1901, 1906 and 1907. Though competitive after that, the club did not win the Scudetto until the 1950-1951 season.

    Kilpin retired in 1908, the same year differences within the club led to some members leaving and creating FC Internazionale Milano, better known as Inter Milan.

    His creation has turned into a global powerhouse. Milanista worldwide need to remember that before Silvio Berlusconi turned Milan into what it is today, there was a man even more important to the club's history—its founder.

20) Dida (2000-2010)

2 of 21

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Nationality: Brazilian

    Appearances: 302 (27th all time)

    Honors:

    Serie A (1): 2003-2004; Coppa Italia (1): 2002-2003; Italian Supercup (1): 2004; UEFA Champions League (2): 2002-2003, 2006-2007; UEFA Super Cup (2): 2003, 2007; FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2007

    Individual: 2005 FIFPro Goalkeeper of the Year, 2005 IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper Silver Ball

    He may have fallen off late in his career, but there can be doubt that when he was at his best, few were as good as the great Brazilian Nelson Dida.

    Dida was a star for Milan for many years at the start of the 21st century. No performance will ever be more highly regarded in his career than that night in Manchester in 2003 when Dida pushed away three penalty shots in a shootout to give Milan its sixth Champions League victory with a win over Juventus.

    Though his career was marred by injury later on, especially after being hit by a lit flare against Inter Milan in the 2004-2005 Champions League and being assaulted by a fan against Celtic in the 2007-2008 Champions League, the Brazilian was a big part of the team that made it to the final three times in five years. That Dida, the dominant and fun-to-watch Dida, is the one that will be remembered.

19) Zvonimir Boban (1991-2002)

3 of 21

    Position: Midfielder

    Nationality: Croatian

    Appearances: 251

    Goals: 30

    Honors:

    Serie A (4): 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1995-1996, 1998-1999; Italian Supercup (3): 1992, 1993, 1994; UEFA Champions League (1): 1993-1994; UEFA Super Cup (1): 1994

    A player who isn't widely remembered, but a fantastic player all the same.

    Boban was a vital component of the Milan midfield for nearly 10 years and was a driving force behind four Scudetti and the club's fifth UEFA Champions League conquest.

    The former captain of Croatia may have never won any individual awards, but the guy could flat out play football and was a star for Milan.

18) Pierino Prati (1966-1973)

4 of 21

    Position: Winger

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 209

    Goals: 102 (ninth all-time)

    Honors:

    Serie A (1): 1967-1968; Coppa Italia (2): 1971-1972, 1972-1973; UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (2): 1967-1968, 1972-1973; European Cup (1): 1968-1969; Intercontinental Cup (1): 1969

    Individual: 1967-1968 Caponnoniere

    Prati's arrival in 1966 proved to be a great addition for Milan. Only 19 at the time, he quickly blossomed into a star for Milan.

    In only his second season, he scored 15 times, sealing the Caponnoniere for himself and leading the Rossoneri to the Scudetto for the first time since the 1961-1962 season. That year, he also scored three times in the Cup Winners' Cup to help Milan win the competition for the first time ever.

    His greatest accomplishment in red and black was definitely the 1969 European Cup Final, when he recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 victory over Ajax in Madrid. He is the last player to record a hat trick in the final.

    Only two other players have achieved that feat—Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas, both of Real Madrid, achieved the feat in the 1960 final. Puskas actually recorded four goals in that 7-3 over Eintracht Frankfurt and picked up another hat trick in the 1962 Final, a 5-3 loss to Benfica.

    Prati is overshadowed when the Milan of the late '60s is remembered because of Gianni Rivera, but he was a fantastic player and deserves his spot on this list.

17) Aldo Boffi (1936-1945)

5 of 21

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 187

    Goals: 131 (5th all time)

    Honors:

    Serie A Capocannoniere (3): 1938-1939, 1939-1940, 1941-1942

    Aldo Boffi never won any club titles in his time at AC Milan—a time that was dominated primarily by Inter and Bologna.

    He was, however, the Capocannoniere three times and scored an incredible amount of goals in his nine years. 131 goals in 187 games is nothing to look past. Boffi was an incredible goalscorer and ranks fifth all time on the Milan goalscoring list.

    If Boffi had been part of a winning team, he could have been a much more celebrated player.

16) Giovanni Trapattoni (1957-1971)

6 of 21

    Position: Defender, Defensive Midfielder

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 351 (16th all-time)

    Goals: six

    Honors:

    Serie A (2): 1961-1962, 1967-1968; Coppa Italia (1): 1966-1967; European Cup (2): 1962-1963, 1968-1969; UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1): 1967-1968; Intercontinental Cup (1): 1969

    Trapattoni was a vital member of the first Milan club to dominate Europe. In his time with the club, Trapattoni won three European tournaments, primarily the European Cup in 1963 and 1969, as well as the Cup Winners' Cup.

    Now the boss for the Republic of Ireland, Trapattoni was instrumental to Milan's success in the '60s and will forever be remembered for his importance in making Milan one of the most feared clubs in the world.

15) Daniele Massaro (1986-1995)

7 of 21

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 306

    Goals: 70

    Honors:

    Club: Serie A (4): 1987-1988, 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994; Italian Super Cup (2): 1988, 1992; UEFA Champions League (2): 1989-1990, 1993-1994; UEFA Super Cup (3): 1989, 1990, 1994; Intercontinental Cup (2): 1989, 1990

    Part of one of the greatest Milan teams of all time, Massaro was a go-to guy up top and was a fantastic talent overall.

    Massaro scored 70 goals in his Milan career, but no two were more important than the double that he recorded in the first half of the 1994 UEFA Champions League final, which Milan won 4-0 over Barcelona.

14) Kaka (2003-2009)

8 of 21

    Position: Attacking midfielder

    Nationality: Brazilian

    Appearances: 270

    Goals: 95 (11th all-time)

    Honors:

    Serie A (1): 2003-2004; Italian Supercup (1): 2004; UEFA Champions League (1): 2006-2007; UEFA Super Cup (2): 2003, 2007; FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2007

    Individual: Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year (3): 2004, 2006, 2007; Serie A Footballer of the Year: 2004, 2007; 2005 UEFA Champions League Best Midfielder; 2007 UEFA Champions League Best Forward; UEFA Team of the Year (2): 2006, 2007; FIFPro World XI (3): 2006, 2007, 2008; 2006-2007 UEFA Club Footballer of the Year; 2007 FIFPro World Player of the Year; 2007 Ballon d'Or; 2007 FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball; 2007 IFFHS World's Best Playmaker; 2007 Onze d'Or; 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year; 2007 World Soccer Player of the Year; 2008 Samba d'Or

    When Silvio Berlusconi said that the club got Kaka "for peanuts," that was the best way of putting it.

    Kaka arrived from Sao Paolo on the cheap and became one of the greatest players in the world. The individual awards listed above speak for themselves.

    Of course, the reason he won all these awards is because of what he did to help the club to glory. In his first season at Milan, the club won the Serie A, with the Brazilian netting 10 goals in 30 games.

    Kaka's most impressive and memorable season at Milan was the 2006-2007 season. After the Calciopoli scandal saw Milan forced to play in the Qualifying Round of the Champions League, Kaka made sure it didn't effect the chance to attain European glory.

    In 15 games in the tournament that season, Kaka scored 10 times, with three of them coming in the semifinals against Manchester United (two in a 3-2 loss at Old Trafford and the opening goal of the second leg in a 3-0 win at San Siro). He then provided the assist for Pippo Inzaghi on the game-winning goal of the final against Liverpool in Athens.

    He left Milan, as he put it, to help the club get out of the tough financial situation they were facing in 2009. Kaka on several occasions said he wanted to be a career Milan player and to wear the armband, but it wasn't meant to be. He is now at Real Madrid, but his glory days will be remembered as his time in red and black.

13) Ruud Gullit (1987-1993, 1994-1995)

9 of 21

    Position: Attacking midfielder/Forward

    Nationality: Dutch

    Appearances: 171

    Goals: 56

    Honors:

    Serie A (3): 1987-1988, 1991-1992, 1992-1993; Italian Supercup (3): 1988, 1992, 1994; European Cup (2): 1988-1989, 1989-1990; UEFA Super Cup (2): 1989, 1990; Intercontinental Cup (2): 1989, 1990

    Individual: 1987 Ballon d'Or winner; World Soccer Magazine World Footballer of the Year (2): 1987, 1989, second place 1988, third place 1993; Onze d'Silver (2): 1988, 1989; IFFHS Best World Player of the Year: third place in 1988 and 1989; member of the FIFA 100

    When Silvio Berlusconi bought Milan in the 1980s, he immediately made his impression on the club, making it known he would not accept relegation, as had happened twice in the early part of the decade.

    Berlusconi made one of the greatest investments of all time when he brought in three of the greatest Dutch players to ever play the game. One of these players was Ruud Gullit.

    He didn't disappoint.

    Right from the start, Gullit was inspirational to the team led by Arrigo Sacchi. Playing mostly as an attacking midfielder and providing inspiration in the attack, Gullit helped Milan to the Scudetto for the first time in nine years. From then on, the Milan of the late '80s and early '90s would become one of the most dominant teams ever.

    The Serie A success of 1987-1988 wasn't repeated until 1991-1992, but in the three seasons before that, the Rossoneri would win two European Cups in succession during the 1988-1989 and 1989-1990 seasons. Since that time, no team has ever repeated as champions in the new form known as the UEFA Champions League.

    Gullit's importance to the team was evident in his being recognized as one of the three best footballers on the planet by almost every media outlet that judged.

    It was a dominant time for Milan and Gullit's best years were spent paving his way to greatness at San Siro.

12) Sebastiano Rossi (1990-2002)

10 of 21

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 330 (20th all-time)

    Honors:

    Serie A (5): 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1995-1996, 1998-1999; Italian Super Cup (3): 1992, 1993, 1994; UEFA Champions League (1): 1993-1994; UEFA Super Cup (2): 1990, 1994; Intercontinental Cup (1): 1990

    Sebo Rossi was the backbone of Milan for one of the greatest eras in club history.

    Throughout the '90s, especially the early part of the decade, Rossi was one of the world's best keepers and he guided Milan through one of its greatest runs.

    Three straight Scudetti, five overall, and a Champions League title, Rossi commanded a dominant Milan team and thanks to one of the greatest back fours of all time, he was seldom challenged; when he was, he made the most of his opportunity to achieve glory.

    Rossi's time in net was met with extreme success for Milan. No keeper has had as much success with Milan as Sebo.

11) Filippo Inzaghi (2001-Present)

11 of 21

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 293 (29th all time)

    Goals: 125 (sixth all time)

    Honors:

    Serie A (2): 2003-2004, 2010-2011; Coppa Italia (1): 2002-2003; Italian Supercup (1): 2011; UEFA Champions League (2): 2002-2003, 2006-2007; UEFA Super Cup (2): 2003, 2007; FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2007

    Super Pippo, Mr. 300, the Super Sub, the greatest clutch goalscorer of all time; all these names and titles are associated with Filippo Inzaghi, and rightfully so.

    Inzaghi burst onto the scene as a dominant goalscorer while playing for Atalanta during the 1996-1997 season, which earned him a move to Juventus. When he arrived at Milan in 2001, he became even more famous.

    Inzaghi has always had a knack for scoring a goal at the right time, no matter how brilliant or ugly it is, and currently ranks 18th all time in Serie A goals, third amongst active players. He is also currently second behind Schalke's Raul in career goals in European club competition. His 43 since joining Milan are a club record.

    He hasn't always been a first-choice striker, especially as he has gotten up in years, but when he is healthy, there's no stopping him.

    No Milan fan will ever forget the 2007 Champions League final, when Inzaghi first redirected an Andrea Pirlo free kick and then brilliantly slid the ball under Liverpool's Pepe Reina to secure Milan's seventh European Cup.

    Even during the 2010-2011 season, at the age of 37, he made his contributions before falling to injury. In a game against Real Madrid in November, Milan were down 1-0 and it was looking clear that Madrid were going to get all three points at San Siro, until Filippo Inzaghi came in with about a half hour to play and scored twice in the span of a couple minutes.

    It was brilliant and not something many 37-year-olds could do against a club like Real Madrid, but Inzaghi is an exception to the rules of aging.

    Maybe it has to do with the famous Milan Lab, but despite the time passing, when he has been healthy, Pippo has continued to be brilliant.

10) Jose Altafini (1958-1965)

12 of 21

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Brazilian/Italian

    Appearances: 246

    Goals: 161 (fourth all-time)

    Honors:

    Serie A (2): 1958-1959, 1961-1962; European Cup (1): 1962-1963

    Individual: 1961-1962 Serie A Capocannoniere (Leading goalscorer); 1962-1963 European Cup leading scorer

    Italian video gamers may know him as one of the commentators of the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise, but before he took to commentating, Alfatini was one of the greatest players of his time.

    Alfatini spent seven fantastic seasons, during which he became Milan's second leading scorer of all time, but he has since dropped to fourth.

    The Brazilian made his historic imprint on the game with his triumphs in the European Cup. In the 1962-1963 tournament, Milan were crowned champions for the first time after defeating Benfica 2-1. Alfatini scored both the goals to bring Milan from behind to win. The brace gave him 14 for the tournament.

    To this day, even with the reformatting into the UEFA Champions League, that number still stands as the single season record for the competition. Ruud Van Nistelrooy in 2002-2003 and Lionel Messi in 2010-2011 each scored 12. That is the closest the record has come to being broken. It may take a while for it to fall.

    Alfatini was a very influential player in red and black. He was one of those players a club wishes they could keep forever, but he moved on to Napoli and Juventus. He made the most of his time at Milan and was a big part of the beginning of European dominance.

9) Nils Liedholm (1949-1961, Manager 1963-1966, 1977-1979, 1984-1987)

13 of 21

    Position: Midfielder

    Nationality: Swedish

    Appearances: 394 (13th all time)

    Goals: 89 (13th all time)

    Honors:

    Serie A (4): 1950-1951, 1954-1955, 1956-1957, 1958-1959; Latin Cup (2): 1951, 1956

    Part of the famous Gre-No-Li combination of Swedish attackers for Milan (Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl, and himself) in the '50s, Liedholm was successful in his time with the club.

    Thirteenth in Milan history in both appearances and goals, Liedholm was part of four Scudetto-winning sides during one of Milan's brightest times.

    His time with the club is often overlooked because of the dominance of Nordahl, but he was instrumental in winning the four titles.

    He also managed the club on three separate occasions, though never won a title.

8) Andrea Pirlo (2001-2011)

14 of 21

    Position: Midfielder

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 401 (12th all-time)

    Goals: 41

    Honors:

    Serie A (2): 2004, 2011; Coppa Italia (1): 2002-2003; Italian Super Cup (1): 2004; UEFA Champions League (2): 2002-2003, 2006-2007; UEFA Super Cup (2): 2003, 2007; FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2007

    Individual: 2006 FIFPro World XI

    Pirlo's exit from Milan in June was met with deep sadness, but at the same time it gave Milanistas a chance to reflect on the 10 years they were blessed to have a player like Andrea Pirlo.

    In a move you don't see everyday, Pirlo was sold from Inter to Milan, meaning he was not moving to a different city or a new stadium, he just had to switch locker rooms. Inter lost out on that deal. Pirlo would go on to become one of the greatest playmakers of all time.

    His ability to dictate a game from the midfield was unparalleled in the middle of the last decade. He was a driving force of Milan's two Champions League victories over five years, which included also included a trip to the final in 2005.

    Even as he moved past 30, Pirlo was creating greatness out of nothing for Milan. Twice in two seasons, he pulled off incredible, out-of-nothing goals that drove Milan to victory. First, he caught Iker Casillas off guard in a Champions League match at the Bernabeu, and who could forget this screamer against Parma last season?

    Pirlo was important to Milan for 10 years. It was necessary to move on, but his career will always be marked by the success and glory he found wearing the colors of Milan.

7) Andriy Shevchenko (1999-2006, 2008-2009)

15 of 21

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Ukrainian

    Appearances: 322 (23rd all-time)

    Goals: 175 (second all-time)

    Honors:

    Club: Serie A (1): 2003-2004; Coppa Italia (1): 2002-2003; Italian Super Cup (1): 2004; UEFA Champions League (1): 2002-2003; UEFA Super Cup (1): 2003

    Individual: Ukrainian Footballer of the Year (5): 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005; European Sports Magazine Team of the Year (3): 1999-2000, 2003-2004, 2004-2005; 2005-2006 UEFA Champions League Top Scorer; UEFA Team of the Year (2): 2004, 2005; 2000 Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year; Serie A Capocannoniere (2): 1999-2000, 2003-2004; 2004 Ballon d'Or; 2005 Golden Foot award; 2005 FIFPro World XI; L'Equipe Team of the Year (2): 2004, 2005; FIFA 100

    Besides saying that he made the biggest mistake of his life leaving Milan to play for Chelsea, everything else about the Ukrainian is self-explanatory.

    The guy is an absolutely incredible footballer and without a doubt one of the greatest players to ever wear the AC Milan shirt.

    In the seemingly short time he was with Milan, he lit the back of the net on fire. His 175 goals are the second most of any Milan player and likely the closest anyone will get in the foreseeable future to Gunnar Nordahl's record.

    He didn't just score at the right time, he scored all the time. If he stayed with the club, he would have been the greatest Milan player ever and would have won many more trophies, but by the time he moved back on loan in 2008, he had ruined his chances of playing big again with Chelsea.

    Shevchenko was a goalscoring genius at Milan, but no goal will ever be as revered as his penalty kick that won the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final over Juventus.

    When it comes to Milan's all-time greats, Shevchenko deserves a place near the top. No doubt.

6) Alessandro Costacurta (1986-2007)

16 of 21

    Position: Center Back

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 663 (third all time)

    Goals: 3

    Honors:

    Serie A (7): 1987-1988, 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1995-1996, 1998-1999, 2003-2004; UEFA Champions League (5): 1988-1989, 1989-1990, 1993-1994, 2002-2003, 2006-2007; Coppa Italia (1): 2002-2003; Italian Super Cup (5): 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2004; UEFA Super Cup: 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003; Intercontinental Cup (2): 1989, 1990

    Billy was a big part of Milan's Golden Age. A regular in the back for many years, he was part of a dynamic team which included Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Marco Van Basten and several other superstars that dominated Italy and Europe for many years.

    His 663 appearances are third all time for the club behind only Baresi and Maldini, and it is unlikely that the three will be challenged anytime soon. Their numbers were incredible, and Costacurta is the proud owner of one of the greatest trophy cases in the history of sports, along with his teammates of the Golden Age.

5) Marco Van Basten (1987-1995)

17 of 21

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Dutch

    Appearances: 201

    Goals: 124 (seventh all time)

    Honors:

    Club: Serie A (3): 1987-1988, 1991-1992, 1992-1993; Italian Super Cup (3): 1988, 1992, 1993; European Cup (2): 1988-1989, 1989-1990; UEFA Super Cup (2): 1989, 1990; Intercontinental Cup (2): 1989, 1990

    Individual: 1992 FIFA World Player of the Year; World Soccer Player of the Year (2): 1988, 1992; UEFA Best Player of the Year (3): 1989, 1990, 1992; IFFHS Best Player of the Year (3): 1988, 1989, 1990; Onze d'Or (2): 1988, 1989; Onze d'Argent (2): 1987, 1992; 1987 Bravo Award; European Footballer of The Year (3): 1988, 1989, 1992; FIFA 100; 1988-1989 European Cup Top Scorer; 1992-1993 European Cup Silver Top Scorer; Serie A Capocannoniere (2): 1989-1990, 1991-1992; 1988-1989 Serie A Silver Top Scorer

    It's a shame that injuries prevented Van Basten from playing much for Milan after 1993. His ankle would never be the same and because of that, he had to retire after two years on the sideline in 1995 at the age of 31.

    When Silvio Berlusconi took over the club in 1986, he immediately made a huge investment by bringing in Dutch trio Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Van Basten. Van Basten had made a name for himself and rose to stardom while playing for Ajax prior to his move to Italy.

    Despite playing only seven healthy years, Van Basten rose up the scoring charts at Milan and until he was passed by Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi, he was fifth all time on the list.

    His goalscoring ability was instrumental to the Italian and European glory enjoyed by the club during what has regularly been referred to as the Golden Age.

    Many thought that Van Basten would be the successor to Carlo Ancelotti and then Leonardo, but it was not meant to be. The Dutchman did enough in his time at Milan to be considered one of its best players ever.

4) Gunnar Nordahl (1949-1956)

18 of 21

    Position: Forward

    Nationality: Swedish

    Appearances: 268

    Goals: 221 (first all-time)

    Honors:

    Club: Serie A (2): 1950-1951, 1953-1954; Latin Cup (2): 1951, 1956

    Individual: Serie A Capocannoniere (5): 1949-1950, 1950-1951, 1952-1953, 1953-1954, 1954-1955

    No player has been the Serie A Capocannoniere as many times as Gunnar Nordahl, and only Michel Platini has matched Nordahl's record of three consecutive seasons as top scorer.

    Nordahl was part of the first consistently successful period of Milan history. With two Scudetti, he helped set the pace for a long run of Milan success from the '50s into the '60s. The '50s were when Milan really began to become one of the major world powers, and Nordahl is a big reason for that success.

    It is highly unlikely that any player will ever match his five Capocannoniere awards and as Milan's all-time leading goalscorer, his record will likely go unchallenged for a while. The only person at the moment who could challenge his 221 goals is Alexandre Pato. If he stays at Milan and stays healthy, Pato could top that list. He currently has 58 goals and is only 22.

    Until then, Nordahl remains the scoring king.

3) Gianni Rivera (1960-1979)

19 of 21

    Position: Midfielder

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 658 (fourth all time)

    Goals: 165 (third all time)

    Honors:

    Club: Serie A (3): 1961-1962, 1967-1968, 1978-1979; Coppa Italia (4): 1967, 1972, 1973, 1977; UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (2): 1967-1968, 1972-1973; European Cup (2): 1962-1963, 1968-1969; Intercontinental Cup (1): 1969

    Individual: 1972-1973 Serie A Capocannoniere; 1969 European Player of the Year

    Gianni Rivera started a trend that created the greatest Milan legends. After one season playing for his hometown club, Alessandria, he played 19 years for Milan, playing as captain for 13 of them, and retired as a member of the red and black.

    To see a player play their entire career for one club, especially a player as talented as Rivera, is a rarity.

    Rivera had one of the greatest careers imaginable. After that one season in his hometown, the Italian went on to shatter the record for games played by a member of the Rossoneri. When Rivera joined the club, Omero Tognon held the record with 342 games played. In Rivera's time at the club, Nils Liedholm, Cesare Maldini and Angelo Anquilletti each set the record.

    When Anquilletti retired in 1977, the record by a player no longer with the club was 418. Rivera retired after 658, an incredible feat at the time and to this day. Very few players play that long for one club, but three players since have passed Rivera on the Milan list.

    He was one of, if not the most influential player in the Milan squad in his time, especially the '60s when Milan won its first two European Cups in 1963 and 1969. He continued to lead the club to trophies in the '70s, winning three Italian Cups, a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and a Scudetto during the decade.

    His influence through the midfield tortured defenses for an extremely long time. It would take a lot of great careers to move him out of the top three.

2) Franco Baresi (1977-1997)

20 of 21

    Position: Sweeper

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 719 (second all time)

    Goals: 33

    Honors: Serie A (6): 1978-1979, 1987-1988, 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1995-1996; Serie B (2): 1980-1981, 1982-1983; Italian Super Cup (4): 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994; UEFA Champions League (3): 1988-1989, 1989-1990, 1993-1994; UEFA Super Cup (3): 1989, 1990, 1994; Intercontinental Cup (2): 1989, 1990; Mitropa Cup (1): 1982

    Individual: 1989 European Silver Ball Footballer of the Year; 1989-1990 Serie A Player of the Year; 1990 IFFHS World Player of the Year Silver Ball; FIFA 100; AC Milan Player of the 20th Century

    Baresi may have been on the only two Milan clubs to ever play in Serie B, but he was also vital to the greatest age in the history of Milan football.

    Despite the two years in Serie B which followed a successful decade in the '70s, Milan pushed that all aside when Berlusconi took over and became the most dominant football club in the world for a long time.

    Baresi is one of the last natural sweepers and his time in the back with Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta and Mauro Tassotti was a time which brought Milan five Scudetti, three European Cups and the claim as the world's best club.

    He captained Milan for the last 15 years of his career, a career that lasted 20 incredible years, and his contributions earned him not only a spot on Pele's list known as the FIFA 100, but he was named the AC Milan Player of the Century. His No. 6 is one of now only two numbers retired by the club and unlike the other number, it will certainly never be worn again.

    Baresi is an immortal amongst legends. His defensive prowess helped bring an incredible and unheard of amount of trophies to a club that cemented itself as the world's greatest throughout his career.

1) Paolo Maldini (1984-2009)

21 of 21

    Position: Defender

    Nationality: Italian

    Appearances: 902 (first all time)

    Goals: 33

    Honors:

    Club: Serie A (7): 1987-1988, 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1995-1996, 1998-1999, 2003-2004; Coppa Italia (1): 2002-2003; Italian Supercup (5): 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2004; UEFA Champions League (5): 1988-1989, 1989-1990, 1993-1994, 2002-2003, 2006-2007; UEFA Super Cup (5): 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007; Intercontinental Cup (2): 1989, 1990; FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2007

    Individual: 1989 European U-21 Player of the Year; 2003 UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match; 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year Silver Ball; Ballon d'Or Bronze Award (2): 1994, 2003; 2004 Serie A Defender of the Year; FIFA 100; UEFA Team of the Year (2): 2003, 2005; ESM Team of the Year (4): 1994-1995, 1995-1996, 1999-2000, 2002-2003; 2005 FIFPro World XI; 2006-2007 UEFA Champions League Best Defender; 2009 UEFA Champions League Achievement Award; Holds UEFA Champions League and Serie A records for appearances

    Well, there have been many legendary players for Milan, but none has been more celebrated than Paolo Maldini.

    Milan's all-time appearance leader also holds the appearance record for the Champions League and Serie A. Few players have even come close to winning those competitions as often as Maldini did. Five European Cups, seven Scudetti, and 21 major trophies overall in 25 seasons.

    After one appearance at the end of the 1984-1985 season, Maldini became a regular in the Milan setup at the age of 17. He was thrown into the team with Franco Baresi at an incredibly young age and didn't disappoint.

    Maldini was absolutely incredible in his time and is considered one of the greatest defenders of all time. Even after the Golden Age had passed and players like Baresi and Tassotti retired, Maldini continued to dominate.

    Maldini's famous No. 3 is one of the two numbers, along with Baresi's, that has been retired by the club. The only way it will be worn again is if one of Maldini's sons, Christian or Daniel, plays for the club. Both are in the youth system.

    With all the honors, all the success and the continued dominance until his retirement at the age of 41, he is undoubtedly the greatest player in Milan history. There are many other legends, but Maldini is first among them.