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Marco Van Basten

Marco Van Basten
Complete Name: Marcel van Basten
Nationality: Dutch
Place of Birth: Utrecht, Holland
Date of Birth: October 31, 1964
Height: 178 cm
Weight: 66 kg
National Team: Holland
Current Club: Retired
Position: Forward


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Club career history

Elinkwijk (Holland), Ajax (Holland), AC Milan (Italy)




Marcel van Basten, known as Marco van Basten (October 31, 1964, Utrecht), is a former Dutch football player who played for Ajax Amsterdam and A.C. Milan in the 1980s and early 1990s. He is regarded as one of the finest strikers of all time and scored 276 goals in a career cut short by injury, known for his strength on the ball, his tactical awareness and spectacular volleys. His grace earned him the titles "San Marco" and "The Swan Of Utrecht". Van Basten, who was named European Footballer of the Year three times (1988, '89 and '92) and FIFA World Player of the Year (1992) is currently the coach of the Dutch national team.

Van Basten played very briefly for Elinkwijk before Ajax signed him. He played his first game for Ajax in April 1982 and was proclaimed the new Johan Cruijff.

In 1987 Silvio Berlusconi brought Van Basten to Milan along with fellow countrymen Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, joining them in 1988. In his first season Milan won their first scudetto (league championship) in eight years, but Van Basten played only eleven games and was constantly troubled by an ankle injury. Despite this, in Euro 88 Van Basten showed a dazzling run of form, including three goals against England and a spectacular volley in the final against the Soviet Union.

Helped by his form in international competition, Van Basten had an excellent season in 1988-89, winning European Footballer of the Year and scoring nineteen goals in Serie A as well as helping Milan demolish Steaua Bucharest to win the European Cup. In 1989-90 he was Capocannoniere (Serie A's leading goal scorer) and Milan defended their European Cup successfully. The Dutch national side had a very poor World Cup in 1990, finally going out to West Germany in the second round.

Milan's 1990-91 European season was ruined in the semi-final against Olympique Marseille and the club received a year long ban from European football. Van Basten had been banned for four matches earlier in the competition following a cynical elbowing offense. Domestically the club's season was also disappointing and Sampdoria won the scudetto. Van Basten fell out with Milan's manager Arrigo Sacchi and Berlusconi sacked Sacchi to placate him. Undistracted by European football in 1991-92 and managed by Fabio Capello, Milan did not lose a single game in the league and won the championship, Van Basten scoring 25 goals and becoming Capocannoniere again. Internationally the Dutch went out of Euro 92 to Denmark in a penalty shootout, Van Basten missing one.

Milan stretched their unbeaten run into the 1992-93 season, going 58 matches in total before they lost a game. Van Basten played exceptionally well in the early part of the season and was voted European Player of the Year for a third time before his troublesome ankle injury recurred in a game against Ancona. Van Basten underwent another in a series of operations and returned to Milan for the final few domestic games before they lost the Champions League final to Marseille. The final was Van Basten's final game for Milan; despite enormous effort, he was unable to recover from his injuries.

Van Basten officially left Milan in 1995 and retired from football, stating he would never try management. However, he eventually realized that football was too important for him and successfully took a course with the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB). His first stint as a coach was as an assistant to his former teammate John van't Schip managing the second team of Ajax in 2003-2004. On 29 July 2004, Van Basten was named as the new head coach of the Dutch national team, with van't Schip as his assistant.

As a coach, he soon established himself as a man of strong principles. Like many others, he declared he would pick players only "by performance", but he was unusual in actually following this policy. Van Basten famously dropped superstars like Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert or Andy van der Meyde and benched Edgar Davids and Mark van Bommel, because all five were either past their best or constantly underachieving. For probably the first time after the war, neither club of the "Big Three" Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven or Feyenoord Rotterdam provided the backbone of the Elftal, but newcomer AZ Alkmaar with relatively unknown players like Denny Landzaat, Barry Opdam, Barry van Galen, Ron Vlaar, Jan Kromkamp or Joris Mathijsen. Other remarkable choices were Khalid Boulahrouz, Dirk Kuyt, Hedwiges Maduro, Ryan Babel or Romeo Castelen. To date, his selections have proven successful in rejuvenating the Dut.

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