A new series here on SempreMilan will take a look at iconic photos involving the Rossoneri, and the story behind them.
What an image to begin the series. Avid Milanisti across the globe will recognise the four characters, stood arm-in-arm as they did on the field so many times.
From left to right, the names are as follows: Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basted and Ruud Gullit.
Those stature of those four players alone means the piece could be ended here, but just how did this remarkable combination of players end up trying to block a free-kick?
Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan sides were often irresistible to watch; a rock solid defence complemented by an enterprising midfield and viciously clinical strike force. They rarely played better than the summer night pictured above in 1989.
Leo Beenhakker’s Real Madrid side came to San Siro in remarkable form. With back-to-back La Liga titles in the two previous seasons, and a third one effectively won by the time they came to Milano on April 19, on the back of a 27-game unbeaten run.
Los Blancos had also recently won consecutive UEFA Cup titles in 1985 and 1986, and faced Sacchi’s star-studded Milan in the European Cup semi-final, also their second in a row.
The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu had finished 1-1 two weeks prior. Hugo Sanchez’ strike minutes before half-time was cancelled out by a crucial goal from the Flying Dutchman Marco van Basten with under 20 minutes left, in front of a crowd of around 100,000.
Fastforward roughly 14 days and an hour, and the Rossoneri would be in dream land.
All four of the men pictured above scored as Milan romped the Spanish champions 5-0. Starting with Ancelotti’s immaculate lob, Rijkaard and Gullit’s pair of headers; continuing with Van Basten’s unstoppable drive and capped off by Donadoni’s pile-driver.
A five-star performance from the Diavolo in front of over 73,000 raucous spectators saw the home side progress 6-1 on aggregate.
Milan would go on to meet Steaua Bucaresti in the final and record their third European Cup triumph, crushing the Romanian side 4-0 thanks to braces from Gullit and Van Basten.