History of A.C. Milan

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This is the history of Associazione Calcio Milan, commonly referred to as A.C. Milan or simply Milan (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmiːlan]), an Italian professional football club based in Milan, Lombardy.

Foundation and early years[edit]

Associazione Calcio Milan was founded on 16 December 1899 by Alfred Edwards and Herbert Kilpin (from Nottingham, England) as the Milan Cricket and Football Club.[1] Edwards, a former British vice-consul in Milan and well-known personality of the Milanese high society, was the club's first elected president. Initially the team included a cricket section, managed by Edward Berra, and a football section managed by David Allison.

The official colours chosen were red and black. Immediately the team gained relevant notability under Herbert Kilpin's guide. The first trophy to be won was the Medaglia del Re (King's Medal) on January 1900, and the team later won three national leagues, in 1901, 1906 and 1907. The triumph of 1901 was particularly relevant because it ended the consecutive series of wins of Genoa, which had been the only team to have won prior to 1901.

In 1908, issues over the signing of foreign players led to a split and the formation of F.C. Internazionale Milano.

1910 - 1949[edit]

In 1916, Milan won the Federal Cup, a national trophy which had replaced the Italian league, suspended because of World War I. This cup was never recognized as an Italian title.

In 1919, the team changed its name to Milan Football Club. After their first triumphs, Milan was unable to continue with their former high-level success, obtaining only a number of half-table placements, even if always playing in the top Italian division.

In 1939 the fascist regime imposed a new italianized name, Associazione Calcio Milano, for the team. However, that name was abandoned immediately after the World War II, but maintaining the initial part: the team was called Associazione Calcio Milan, which is the current official name.

1950s[edit]

In the post-war period, Milan was among the three top Italian teams, and won the Scudetto in 1951 – the first time since 1907. Il Grande Milan included the famous Gre-No-Li, a trio of Swedish players composed by Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm who were Olympic winners. That team also fielded quality players such as Lorenzo Buffon, Cesare Maldini and Carlo Annovazzi.

Perhaps the most resounding victory of this period was the 7–1 defeat of Juventus in Turin on 5 February 1950, with Gunnar Nordahl bagging a hat-trick.

After the 1951 Scudetto, Milan won another three Serie A seasons, in 1955, 1957 and 1959, and two Latin Cups, in 1951 and 1956. In the end, Milan always placed among the top three teams from 1947/48 to 1956/57.

1960s[edit]

AC Milan players after winning the European Cup Winners' Cup final against German side Hamburger SV in 1968

Milan returned to win a football league in 1961/62. Its manager was Nereo Rocco, an innovative football coach, known as inventor of the catenaccio tactic. The team included a young Gianni Rivera and José Altafini. The following season, thanks also to Altafini's goals, Milan won their first European Cup (later known as UEFA Champion League) by defeating Benfica 2–1. This was also the first time an Italian team won the European Cup.

Despite that, during the 1960s Milan won less trophies, mainly because of the heavy concurrence of Helenio Herrera's Inter. Its next Scudetto arrived only in 1967/68, thanks to the goals of Pierino Prati, the Serie A topscorer in that season, as well as the Cup Winners' Cup, won against Hamburger SV thanks to the two goals of Kurt Hamrin. The next season Milan won its second European Cup (4–1 to AFC Ajax), and in 1969 won its first Intercontinental Cup, after having defeated Estudiantes de La Plata of Argentina in two dramatic legs (3–0, 1–2).

1970s[edit]

In the 1970s, Milan won three Italian Cups and its second Cup Winners' Cup during the 72–73 season. Greek referee Christos Michas, who officiated the final, was later sentenced of match fixing in his home country, though no involvement by Milan was ever proved. The real goal of the Rossoneri was the tenth Scudetto, which would have awarded the first stella ("star") to the team. In 1972 they reached the semi-final of the UEFA Cup losing to eventual cup winners Tottenham Hotspur. A strong 1972/73 season provided their first opportunity for the tenth Scudetto, but ultimately proved a failure after a humiliating defeat against Hellas Verona on the last day of the season.

Milan had to wait until 1978/79 to win their tenth Scudetto, primarily being led by Gianni Rivera who retired from football after this final triumph.

However, the worst was yet to come for the Rossoneri: after the 1979/80 season, Milan was relegated to Serie B by the Football Federation, together with S.S. Lazio, because of a betting scandal.[2]

1980s[edit]

Marco van Basten was part of the Dutch trio that brought glory back to Milan.

In 1980–81, Milan easily won the Serie B, and returned to Serie A, where it would suffer its worst season ever, in 1981/82, being relegated once again.

After several different financial troubles had caused bad times and a lack of success, Milan was bought on 20 February 1986 by Silvio Berlusconi, a Milanese entrepreneur. Berlusconi brought in a rising coach, Arrigo Sacchi, and three Dutch players, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit, to return the team to glory. He also signed some Italian stars: Roberto Donadoni, Carlo Ancelotti and Giovanni Galli.

Sacchi won the 1987–88 scudetto after a great recovery over Diego Maradona's S.S.C. Napoli. In 1988–89, Milan won its third European Cup, defeating Steaua Bucuresti 4–0 in the final, and its second Intercontinental cup against National de Medellin (1–0, goal in the last minute of extra time).

1990s[edit]

AC Milan starting lineup who defeated FC Barcelona in Athens in the UEFA Champions League final on 18 May 1994

The team repeated their International Cup triumph the following season, against Benfica (1–0), and earned its second Intercontinental Cup in a row and third overall beating Olimpia Asunción in 1990. Their European winning line-up was: Giovanni Galli; Mauro Tassotti, Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini; Angelo Colombo, Frank Rijkaard, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Donadoni; Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten. During this period the team was nicknamed Gli Immortali ("The Immortals").

With Sacchi leaving Milan to coach the Italy national football team, Fabio Capello was hired and under him, the Rossoneri kept being successful and came to be known as Gli Invicibili ("The Invincibles"). With an unprecedented 58-match run with no defeats the Invincibili team had the likes of Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini commanding one of the best defences in history, with Marcel Desailly and Roberto Donadoni in midfield and Dejan Savićević, Zvonimir Boban, and Daniele Massaro playing in attack.

In addition to three consecutive scudetti (from 1992 to 1994, including the feat of not losing a single match in the 1991/92 season), Milan reached the Champions League final for three consecutive years: in 1993 they were defeated by Olympique de Marseille; this match was disputed by a match-fixing scandal in the French league involving Marseille's then club president. In 1994 it was F.C. Barcelona who experienced the taste of defeat, after a famous 4–0 win at the hands of the Rossoneri; and in the 1995 finals, Milan were again defeated, this time by Ajax. Then, in 1995–96, led by famous world-class players such as Roberto Baggio, Marco Simone and George Weah, Milan gained their fifteenth Italian Championship. Milan's primary line-up under Capello (1996): Sebastiano Rossi; Christian Panucci, Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini; Roberto Donadoni, Demetrio Albertini, Marcel Desailly; Zvonimir Boban; George Weah, Roberto Baggio.

1996 – 1997

After the departure of Fabio Capello in 1996, Milan recruited Oscar Washington Tabarez but they struggled under the new manager and were winless in their first few opening matches. In an attempt to regain former glories they brought back Arrigo Sacchi to replace Tabarez. The team suffered their worst Serie A defeat, humiliated by Juventus at their own home of San Siro with a 1–6 score. Milan signed new players like Ibrahim Ba, Christophe Dugarry and Edgar Davids. Milan struggled and shockingly ended the Season 1996–97 in eleventh place in Serie-A.

1997–1998

Sacchi was replaced with the returning Capello in the following season. Capello's new Milan signed many potential players like Christian Ziege, Patrick Kluivert, Jesper Blomqvist, and Leonardo but the results were even worse than the season before. They ended Season 1997–98 an improved tenth place. This was still unacceptable and Capello, like Sacchi, was fired.

1998–1999

In their search for a new manager, Alberto Zaccheroni attracted Milan's attention. Zaccheroni was the manager of Udinese who had ended the Season 1997–98 on a high note in 3rd place. Milan signed Zaccheroni along with two of his players at Udinese, Oliver Bierhoff and Thomas Helveg. Milan also signed Roberto Ayala, Luigi Sala and Andres Guglielminpietro and with a 3–4–3 formation, Zaccheroni brought the club's 16th Scudetto back to Milan. The winning line-up was: Christian Abbiati; Luigi Sala, Alessandro Costacurta, Paolo Maldini; Thomas Helveg, Demetrio Albertini, Massimo Ambrosini, Andres Guglielminpietro; Zvonimir Boban, George Weah, Oliver Bierhoff.

1999–2000

Despite success in the previous season, Zaccheroni failed to transform Milan to the great team it used to be. The following season, despite the emergence of Ukraine's great Andriy Shevchenko, Milan disappointed their fans in both the Champions League and Serie A. Milan exited the Champions League early, only winning one out of six matches (three draws and two losses) and ended the Season 1999/00 in the 3rd place. Milan was never a challenge to the top two contenders to the Scudetto, Lazio and Juventus.

2000s[edit]

2000–2001

The following season, Milan qualified for the UEFA Champions League 2000-01 by defeating Dinamo Zagreb to a 6–1 aggregate. Milan started the Champions League at a high note, defeating Beşiktaş J.K. from Turkey and Spanish giants Barcelona, who at the time consisted of international world-class superstars in Rivaldo and Patrick Kluivert. But Milan's form began to seriously decline, drawing against a number of teams (which are seen as technically inferior to Milan), but mainly losing by a 3–0 scoreline to Juventus in Serie A and 1–0 to Leeds United of England. In the Champions League second round, Milan only won once and drew four times. They failed to beat Deportivo de La Coruña from Spain in the last game and Zaccheroni was fired. Cesare Maldini, the father of team captain Paolo, was appointed and things immediately got better. Maldini's official coaching debut at Milan started with a 4–0 win over A.S. Bari, who still had the young gun, Antonio Cassano. It was also under Maldini's leadership that Milan defeated their city rivals Internazionale with an outstanding score of 6–0, a score which has never been repeated and in which Serginho starred in the match. However, after this peak of form, Milan started losing again including a disappointing 1–0 defeat to Vicenza, with the only goal in the match scored by a young Luca Toni. In spite of these results, the Milan board of directors were adamant that Milan reach the fourth place in the league at the end of the season but Maldini failed and the team ended 6th.

2001–2002

Milan started their 2001–02 campaign by signing more star players including Javi Moreno and Cosmin Contra who took Deportivo Alavés to the final round of the UEFA Cup. They also signed Kakha Kaladze (from Dynamo Kyiv), Rui Costa (from AC Fiorentina), Filippo Inzaghi (from Juventus), Martin Laursen (from Verona), Jon Dahl Tomasson (from Feyenoord), Ümit Davala (from Galatasaray), Andrea Pirlo (from Inter). Fatih Terim was appointed manager, replacing Cesare Maldini, and had moderate success. However, after five months in the club, Milan was nowhere near the top five in the league and Terim was sacked for failing to meet the board of directors' expectations. He was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, despite rumours that Franco Baresi would be the new manager. Despite the injury problems of full-back Paolo Maldini, Ancelotti was successful and ended the Season 2001–02 in fourth, earning a place in the Champions League. Milan's starting line at that point was Christian Abbiati; Cosmin Contra, Alessandro Costacurta, Martin Laursen, Kakha Kaladze; Gennaro Gattuso, Demetrio Albertini, Serginho; Rui Costa; Andriy Shevchenko, Filippo Inzaghi.

2002–2003 (3rd in Serie A, Champions of Europe)

Milan ended the season with their sixth Champions League trophy in 2003. En route to the final in Manchester, England, Milan beat their cross city rivals Inter in the semi-finals and they ended the competition on a glorious note by beating their other Italian rival, Juventus, in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. That same season, Milan placed third in Serie A. They also won the Coppa Italia and European Super Cup. Champions League winning starting line-up was: Dida; Alessandro Costacurta, Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini, Kakha Kaladze; Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf; Rui Costa; Andriy Shevchenko, Filippo Inzaghi. Then the following season, Milan signed Kaká. The team earned the nickname I Meravigliosi ("The Amazings").

2003–2004 (Champions in Serie-A, Quarter Finals in European Cup)
May 2004: celebrating the 17th scudetto in piazza del Duomo

Milan set a points record to win the scudetto with a team that was largely kept constant for at least five years. An attack spearheaded by Shevchenko, playmaking by Kaká, and defence with Nesta and Maldini. Milan's season was not perfect as they were beaten by Deportivo La Coruna 0–4 in the quarter finals of the European Cup after winning 4–1 in the San Siro. Despite being Italian champions, Milan showed, as some critics said, weak midfield character that would repeat itself in the European Cup final in the following season. Nevertheless, the squad proved successful and able to express a brilliant style of play for many months.

2004–2005 (2nd in Serie A, 2nd in European Cup)

Hernán Crespo, on loan from Chelsea F.C., proved to be a solid signing. Massimo Ambrosini scored an incredible late goal against PSV. However, the season ended in disastrous defeat in Istanbul's Atatürk Stadium. In 2005, Milan let a 3–0 half time lead in their Champions League Final against Liverpool F.C. of England slip to a 3–3 draw. They conceded 3 second half goals in a span of 6 minutes, before losing on penalties. The nightmare of La Coruna was now replaced with a new nightmare of Istanbul. Milan ended the season being 2nd in the League and won the Italian Super Cup, defeating Lazio. 2004–05 could be summed up as another solid season, but Liverpool won the European Cup and Juventus was the champion of Italy.

2005–2006 (3rd in Serie A, Semi Finals in European Cup)

Milan's Serie A campaign appeared to be one of their most successful in recent years. The team ended the season with a league high 28 wins, but could not edge Juventus in the standings thanks to their (at the time) record setting pace of 91 points. However all this success was nullified by the Calciopoli scandal. Milan were named in the Serie A scandal of 2006 and deprived of 44 out of the 88 points they gained in Serie A 2005–06. In addition, Milan would start their 2006–07 campaign with minus 15 points. Later, however, these point deductions were reduced, to 30 and minus 8 respectively, giving Milan the chance to compete in UEFA Champions League 2006–07.

Milan's efforts in the Champions League that year also proved close, but ultimately unsuccessful. After coming out on top of their group, Milan advanced to the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League 2005–06, first defeating Bayern München of Germany on aggregate and then France's Olympique Lyonnais 3–1 on aggregate. Advancing to the semi-finals of the competition, they were defeated by eventual champion Barcelona 0–1 on aggregate, where Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko had a goal controversially disallowed, thus ending their Champions League run for that season.

2006–2007 (4th in Serie A, Won UEFA Champions League)

Milan's Serie A campaign began with the aforementioned −8 points penalty resulting from the Calciopoli Scandal. After a lackluster first half of the season which saw Milan hover at the center of the standings, several January transfers (including World Cup winner Massimo Oddo, and Brazilian legend Ronaldo) reinvigorated the club. By the end of the campaign, Milan surged up the table to finish fourth, thus assuring their participation for the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League.

While their Serie A campaign proved moderately successful, the 2006–07 season is best remembered for the team's performance in the Champion's League. The penalties imposed after the Calciopoli scandal resulted in Milan being seeded third in the final 2005–06 Serie A table. Thus the team was forced to play in the Champion's League Qualifiers against former European champion Red Star Belgrade. Milan were victorious in the qualifier and advanced to the group phase which they would eventually win.

A.C. Milan starting lineup against Liverpool F.C. in Athens.

Milan survived a first round fight, defeating Celtic F.C. (eventual champions of Scottish Premier League) 1–0 on aggregate after an extra time goal by Kaká. Milan would go on to defeat Bayern München 4–2 on aggregate (2–2 at San Siro and 2–0 at Allianz Arena).

With the win over Bayern, Milan was propelled to the Champions League semi-finals. This marked the third consecutive and fourth time in five years that AC Milan has reached the final four of the competition. The first leg of the semi-final was played against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Manchester scored early on a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo, but Milan answered back thanks to a brace from Kaká, taking a 1–2 lead at half time. Manchester United would ultimately prove victorious thanks to two 2nd half goals from striker Wayne Rooney. This match was regarded by the media and UEFA President Michel Platini as the greatest match in recent memories.[citation needed] The second leg of the Semi Final was played at San Siro on 2 May. Milan played a near perfect first half taking a 2–0 lead into halftime with goals from Kaká and Clarence Seedorf. A 78-minute goal by Alberto Gilardino sealed the victory for the home side.

Milan advanced to the UEFA Champions League final, pitting them in a rematch against their 2005 finals opponent Liverpool. The match was played at the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Greece, on 23 May 2007, with Milan prevailing 2–1 with both goals coming from Filippo Inzaghi. With the victory, the club affirmed its status as one of the powerhouses of European football, with three European Cup final appearances in five years, including two victories.

2007–2008 (5th in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in Europe, Won FIFA Club World Cup)

Hot off the heels of winning a seventh Champions League title, Milan continued their international success by winning the 2007 UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla FC in a game marked with sadness over the recent on-field death of Sevilla player Antonio Puerta. Milan's Champions League success also made the club eligible to compete in the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup where they would win their 18th officially recognized international trophy – tied for most club international trophies in the world. Ironically, Milan won their 18th title in a match against Boca Juniors, the team they are tied with in total international trophies.

However, these two trophies only served as consolation for a very disappointing season for Milan. The club had a slow start in Serie A, often finding it difficult to score after a pre-season injury to Ronaldo. This coupled with their aging backline and some deteriorating performances by Dida, found the club in mid table for much of the season. New signing Alexandre Pato was a bright light for an otherwise dark season for Milan. By the end of the Serie A campaign, Fiorentina edged Milan out for fourth place in the standings and thus Milan failed to qualify for the 2008–09 Champions League – their first failure since the 2001–02 season.

Milan's involvement in the 2007–08 edition of the UEFA Champions League was also forgettable. While the club won its group, they were quickly eliminated by a much younger opponent, Arsenal F.C. in the first knockout round. Prior to this season, Milan had made it to at least the quarterfinals of every Champions League going back to the 2002–03 edition.

2008–2009 (3rd in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in UEFA CUP)

After a poor domestic season that finally resulted in Milan missing out on the Champions League, the club made numerous additions during the offseason signing Ronaldinho, Andriy Shevchenko, Gianluca Zambrotta, Marco Borriello and Mathieu Flamini, amongst others. They also added international sensation David Beckham during the January transfer window on loan from MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy. The season started poorly with two consecutive losses. However the team bounced back, rising to first spot in the table for one week in the first half of the season, before dropping behind Inter (who would go on to win their fourth straight Serie A championship).

The team also fared poorly in the 2008–09 UEFA Cup competition. After winning their group and advancing to the knockout stage, the team was eliminated by eventual UEFA Cup finalist Werder Bremen.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the 2008–09 season was the retirement of footballing legend Paolo Maldini who played each of his club games for Milan, in a career that spanned a remarkable 25 years.

2009–2010 (3rd in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in Europe)

The season started with the dismissal of the head coach Carlo Ancelotti, the new appointed Head Coach was Leonardo. During the transfer season, the club's mayor activity was the sale of Kaka for 64.5 Million Euro's to Spanish team Real Madrid C.F.

The start of the season was not so good, they were not able to win several matches, and the fans were really uncomfortable with the results. But the results started to change in the victory against A.S. Roma, and the crucial victory over Real Madrid, in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. The season included the resurgence of Ronaldinho, Marco Borriello, and the new players as Luca Antonini or Ignazio Abate. Although the Rossoneri achieved some important results, they were eliminated from the Uefa Champions League, by English club Manchester United F.C.; and lost the Serie A race to F.C. Internazionale Milano, and A.S. Roma and subsequently finished 3rd.. At the end of the season, the coach Leonardo resigned, despite A.C. Milan's wishes to keep the manager.

2010s[edit]

2010–2011 (1st in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in Europe)

Following a season of relative disappointment, with regards to signings and results, president Berlusconi enforced Milan with the signings of Zlatan Ibrahimović in loan deal from FC Barcelona, Robinho from Manchester City F.C. for €18 million and Kevin-Prince Boateng on loan from Genoa. Following the resignation of Leonardo, Milan appointed Massimiliano Allegri previously head coach of Cagliari Calcio.

Following a mixed start to the season (including a 4–0 win against Lecce, draws against Catania and Lazio, and a loss to Cesena), Milan started performing well, and soon reached the top of the table from November onwards. The new signings of Ibrahimovic and Robinho paid dividends. Along with Pato, the three would score 19 goals between them (Ibrahimovic 9, Robinho 6, Pato 4) by the end of the 2010 calendar year. The defensive partnership of Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva in front of Christian Abbiati in goal also gave Milan Serie A's best defence.

By the end of 2010, and the beginning of 2011, Milan had faced an injury crisis that had seen players Andrea Pirlo, Massimo Ambrosini, Filippo Inzaghi, Gianluca Zambrotta, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Daniele Bonera, Luca Antonini, Alexandre Pato and Alessandro Nesta all injured. The team would then be enforced during the winter transfer period with the signings of Antonio Cassano, Mark Van Bommel, Urby Emanuelson, Dídac Vilà and Nicola Legrottaglie. The signing of Cassano had also paved way for the exit of Ronaldinho – who joined Rio de Janeiro-based side Flamengo of Brazil. However, many of these signings had already participated in the Champions League earlier in the season – meaning that they were cup-tied, unable to play for Milan in that edition of the Champions League. This, coupled with the numerous injuries resulted in Milan's elimination from the Champions League at the hands of English side Tottenham Hotspur in the first knockout round. However, on a domestic level, Milan continued to put in strong performances, including convincing wins against Inter and Napoli – the league's other title-contenders. Following a 0–0 draw with Roma on 7 May, Milan mathematically claimed their 18th Scudetto.[3]

In the 2012–13 Champions League knockout round, Milan won their home leg 2–0 over Barcelona.[4]

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