Our beloved Rossoneri were founded as the Milan Cricket & Football Club 120 years ago, so it’s the perfect time to look back on historical moments in the club’s history.
Although the club itself claims that 16 December 1899 was the official foundation date, evidence shows that the club was actually founded three days earlier.
Milan have plenty of festivities planned for Sunday’s home game against Sassuolo, which promises to be an amazing event and a celebration of the Rossoneri’s glorious past.
Speaking of which, here are 10 of the most iconic moments in 12 decades of history…
1. The Rossonero is born
Milan were formed by Englishmen Herbert Kilpin and Alfred Edwards and it was thanks to the former that the club got its colours.
The man from Nottingham went to Italy for work purposes, but he always maintained his love of sport and when the club was formed, he proclaimed: “We will be a team of devils. Our colours will be red like fire and black like the fear we will invoke in our opponents.”
Edwards would be the first President of the club, while Kilpin – who was 29 years of age at the time – became the first manager, and also played in every position on the pitch. Maybe our captain was the very first ‘Total Footballer’…
2. First Scudetto
Just two years after being formed, Milan fans celebrated their very first piece of silverware in 1901. In the old Italian Football Championship, which was played as a cup competition in a straight knock-out scenario, they overcame Mediolanum 2-0 in the Qualification stage.
However, what was to come from il Diavolo was just remarkable; they had to play both the semi-finals and the final itself away from home and their opponents were Juventus and Genoa respectively.
On each occasion the club were the underdogs against teams considered stronger at the time, but in an almost pre-cursor that would be the club’s mantra, they overcame the odds both times.
They secured a 3-2 victory over the Bianconeri in an exciting clash that started the rivalry between the clubs, before triumphing 3-0 versus the Grifone after extra-time in the title decider.
3. Our home is born
Following a disagreement on the use of foreign players, there was a a new club formed called Football Club Internazionale.
The first Derby della Madonnina was played in Chiasso, Switzerland which the Rossoneri won 3-2 over their new city rivals.
However, the first clash at San Siro occurred on 19th September 1926 when they lost 6-3 in a friendly encounter, though we all know when these two clubs meet, there has always been a bit of an ‘extra bite’ to proceedings.
In this moment of history, it is significant to recall the past, as there is major developments being made as regards to the stadium situation.
4. First true superstar signed
The list of legendary players to have won the famous red & black shirt is a long and storied one, but arguably the first one that was acquired by the club was the Belgium striker Louis Van Hege.
He was signed from Saint Gilloise which at that point was his first and only club as a 21-year-old, and he would go on to break records galore.
He racked up 98 goals in just 91 matches for the club, winning the Capocannoniore on two occasions. He was bestowed the ultimate honour of being the club captain for the last couple of years of his time with Milan. Even though it is 102 years since he left, he is still among the top 10 all time goal-scorers in club history.
5. Return to glory
Within the first eight years of existence, Milan won three league titles: the aforementioned one in 1901 plus two triumphs in 1906 and 1907.
Following these trophies however, the cabinet would not be filled for all of 44 years as despite having good teams, the team just could not overcame the hurdle of actually winning at the end. That all changed in 1951 as Milan clinched Scudetto number four.
In a a tight tussle with arch-rivals Juve and Inter, they managed to finish atop the Serie A standings by one point above their city rivals.
It was a team blessed with enormous talent with the Swedish trio of Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm – famously known as the ‘Gre-No-Li’ line – leading the way.
Not only was the title won, but the play on the field was of a very high quality, as Milan finished as top scorers with 107 goals in the 38 game campaign, to go along with the an impressive +68 goal difference. The club was well and truly back.
6. Announced on the big stage
During said period of the 50’s Milan managed to take their team to the continent and explode as well.
The Latin Cup was added to the trophy haul in 1951 and 1956, as other players such as Juan Alberto Schiaffino, Renzo Burini, Lorenzo Buffon et al. took the club to new heights of glory.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) June 20, 2016
The real significance of their wins in this period was that there were the only Italian team to win this particular competition and also the only one to even reach the final.
7. The Golden Boy arrives
Arguably the best signing in the club’s history occurred in 1960 when the ‘Golden Boy’ Giovanni ‘Gianni’ Rivera was signed from Alessandria at the age of just 16.
The playmaker would go on to achieve absolutely iconic status in the red & black half of the city. He won two European Cups, two Cup Winners Cups, three Scudetti among a number of other honours.
In a history breaking moment, he won the Ballon D’Or in 1969, thus becoming the first Milan player as well as the first Italian player to win the honour.
Besides his play on the field, he fiercely defended the club when needed, as he did in the early 70’s. Following the slew of controversial seasons, where the club missed out on the Scudetto a few times, he openly criticised Italian referees, claiming they were biased towards rivals Juventus.
He was subsequently handed a lengthy ban for his outspoken words. His staunch love for Milan, his leadership, his style and the way he guided along the field left an indefinable mark on the club.
8. First of seven
As we stand, despite the struggles of the last decade or so, Milan is still the club with the second most European Cups with seven.
The first of those was achieved in 1963 at the hallowed grounds of Wembley Stadium. Following the Scudetto victory the previous year under the guidance of the legendary Nereo Rocco, they set their stall firmly on winning the biggest prize in European club football.
They strolled towards the final where they faced two-time defending champions Benfica. As was the case when they won their first title, here again they were the underdogs, but just like 61 years previously they overcame such obstacles to triumph.
A come-from-behind 2-1 win was gained with star striker Brazilian Jose Altafini netting a brace. The sight of captain Cesare Maldini lifting ‘the cup with the big ears’ was and forever will be an iconic moment in the club’s history.
9. Berlusconi takes over
The first half of the 80’s were not a great period at all for the Rossoneri, as they twice got relegated and failed to compete with their rivals for the big prizes.
That all changed in 1986 as media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi bought the club that was close to being declared bankrupt, and made it the best in the world.
He had already been very successful in a number of areas of his life previously, and he transmitted that philosophy and attitude to all who were at the club. He invested in players, most notably the Dutch trio of Ruud Gullit, Marco van BAsten and Frank Rijkaard and took a chance by convincing Arrigo Sacchi to become head coach.
Milan went right to the top in the late 80’s. It was not just a temporary success though, as under the tutelage of the likes of Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti, with players such as Dejan Savicevic, George Weah, Andrey Shevchenko and many, many others, the club enjoyed 29 trophies in his 31 years in charge.
Five European Cups, seven Scudetti and many other titles were achieved, along with an entertaining style of play that left fans and even rivals in awe.
10. The present day
For the 10th and final moment, it’s only fair for us to look at where things stand as we speak.
Following the sale of the club to Yonghong Li in 2016, there was a renewed sense that Milan could return to their former glories, as the Chinese consortium invested vast sums of money on exciting new players.
However, while the results were decent, there were always serious questions as to the source of funds Yonghong was investing. In July of 2018, when he defaulted on a loan payment, the hedge fund Elliot Management – who had provided him with the money for the purchase – were forced to assume ownership of the club.
It meant failure to meet Financial Fair Play responsibilities, agreeing to forego the Europa League and having the UEFA watchdogs on them. The team itself has seen several managerial changes and while under the current boss Stefano Pioli things have improved, there is much to do in the coming years.
So as we are on the verge of celebrating 120 years of our beloved AC Milan, let’s appreciate our past, build on the present and believe that the club will indeed get back among the upper echelons of the game.
Featured image: AC Milan Club New York City
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