• News

Serie A Legends: Marco van Basten, a ‘Swan from Utrecht’

29 May 1999: Marco Van Basten at the PFA 1999 Golf Classic at the Meon Valley Golf and Country Club in Southampton, England. Mandatory Credit: Mark Thompson /Allsport

As part of our Serie A Legends series, we honor legendary striker Marco van Basten. Better known as ‘The ‘Swan from Utrecht’.

There are some players who are true Serie A Legends such as Marco van Basten, but they are too obscure to remember by the younger generations.

Better known as ‘The Swan from Utrecht’, this was the last player to lead one of the biggest football dynasties before the modern age caught up to us.

We are talking about the raging ’80s in Serie A football, an era that was ruled by the best Diego Maradona that anybody could remember.

President Silvio Berlusconi took AC Milan as a challenge, his intention was to dethrone SSC Napoli and he needed some great players to do so.

His strategy consisted of going to the Netherlands to find new talent, an expedition that was led by legendary manager Arrigo Sacchi.

The Rossoneri found three incredible players in different positions who were destined to change the course of AC Milan’s history.

One of these players was a young Marco van Basten, an unusually talented striker who glided through the pitch and gave his first steps on the pitch next to an aging Johan Cruyff.

The Dutch legend famously stated that young Van Basten was the rightful heir to his legacy, and he wasn’t wrong.

Marco takes Serie A by storm.

By the time AC Milan decided to bring Van Basten next to Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit, the Italian giant’s intentions were crystal clear.

Their goal was to take Serie A by storm and create a new legacy inside their institution, they already had a strong foundation with local talents but the Dutch armada was exactly what they needed in order to reach perfection.

Marco’s career at Ajax was already quite impressive, he won a total of seven titles in the six first years of his career.

His trademark was the elegant manner in which he scored his goals, this is what earned him the famous nickname that compared him to a swan.

A year before getting signed by the Rossoneri, Marco was coming from scoring 43 goals in 43 matches with AFC Ajax.

He was never as prolific as that season, but he was way more successful on the collective aspect.

For AC Milan, Marco won a total of three Serie A titles between the six years he remained active at the club.

He became the second Dutch player in history to win three Ballon d’Or trophies, and he led the most powerful AC Milan that anybody ever witnessed through two consecutive European Cups.

This was right before the format changed to what we know today as the UEFA Champions League.

A sad and early retirement.

After proving that AC Milan was able to dethrone SSC Napoli and putting the club at the top of the world, Marco van Basten started suffering problems with his ankle.

During that era, medical advances weren’t as impressive as they are today and technology wasn’t the norm.

Ankle problems as grave as the one Van Basten had were impossible to treat during that time, this is what prompted the striker to hang up his boots right when he would’ve played his best football.

It’s sad to think that one of the greatest players who ever lived wasn’t able to finish his career properly due to an injury of this nature.

Perhaps if he was born a few years later, the advancements in medicine could’ve prevented him from calling it quits that early in the game.

Van Basten was just like a shooting star in the world of football, he was also one of the brightest ones to grace us with its brilliance.

There are many incredible goals that can’t be repeated to this day, all of them were scored by Marco van Basten.

This was the striker that everybody compares to Ronaldo Nazario before the Brazilian appeared on the scene.

Before the modern era gave us ‘O Fenomeno’, football had ‘The Swan from Utrecht’ to admire in all his greatness.

Is there any image or goal that you remember about Marco van Basten’s time in Serie A? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.