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
Associazione Calcio Milan was founded on 13 or 16 December 1899 by Alfred Edwards and Herbert Kilpin (from Nottingham, England) as the Milan Cricket and Football Club. 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) in 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.
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 partly abandoned after World War II, but maintaining the initial part: the team was called Associazione Calcio Milan, which remains the club's current official name.
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, all previous Olympic winners. That team also fielded quality players such as Lorenzo Buffon, Cesare Maldini and Carlo Annovazzi.
After the 1951 Scudetto, Milan won another three Serie A seasons, in 1955, 1957 and 1959, and two Latin Cups, in 1951 and 1956. Between the 1947–48 and 1956–57 seasons, Milan always finished amongst the top three clubs in the league table.
Milan returned to win a football league in 1961–62 under manager Nereo Rocco, an innovative football coach known as the inventor of the catenaccio tactic. The team included a young Gianni Rivera and José Altafini. The following season, in large part due to Altafini's prolific goal-scoring, Milan won their first European Cup (later known as UEFA Champion League) by defeating Portugal's Benfica 2–1. This also marked the first time an Italian team won the European Cup.
Despite the successes of the decade's early years, Milan won less trophies throughout the 1960s, mainly because of the heavy concurrence of Helenio Herrera's Internazionale, Milan's city rivals. Its next Scudetto arrived only in 1967–68 through the offense output of Pierino Prati, the Serie A's top-scorer that season, as well as the European Cup Winners' Cup, won against Hamburger SV thanks to the two goals of Kurt Hamrin. In the next season, Milan won its second European Cup, 4–1 over Ajax, and in 1969 won its first Intercontinental Cup after defeating Argentina's Estudiantes La Plata in two dramatic legs (3–0, 1–2).
In the 1970s, Milan won three Coppa Italia and its second Cup Winners' Cup during the 1972–73 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, though falling 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 Italian Football Federation (FIGC), together with Lazio, due to a betting scandal.
In 1980–81, Milan handily won the Serie B championship, ensuring a swift return 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 poor times and a lack of success on the pitch, 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, in an attempt to return the team to glory, along with the Italian stars Roberto Donadoni, Carlo Ancelotti and Giovanni Galli.
Sacchi and Milan won the 1987–88 Scudetto after an impressive recovery over the Diego Maradona-led Napoli. The next season, in 1988–89, Milan won its third European Cup after defeating Steaua București 4–0 in the final, and its second Intercontinental Cup against National de Medellín (1–0, goal in the last minute of extra time).
The team repeated their International Cup triumph the following season after defeating Benfica 1–0, then earned its second Intercontinental Cup in a row—and third overall—after 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 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 boasted the likes of Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini as one of the strongest defences in football history, along with Marcel Desailly and Roberto Donadoni in midfield and Dejan Savićević, Zvonimir Boban and Daniele Massaro in attack.
In addition to three consecutive Scudetti from 1992 to 1994—including the feat going undefeated in 1991–92), Milan reached the Champions League final in three consecutive years, firstly in 1993, where they were defeated by Marseille, a result later disputed by a match-fixing scandal in the French Ligue 1 involving Marseille's then-club president. In 1994, however, Milan defeated Barcelona after a 4–0 win at the hands of the Rossoneri, while in 1995, Milan fell to Ajax; but they lost 2–0 against Vélez Sarsfield in the Intercontinental Cup. Then, in 1995–96, led by stars Roberto Baggio, Marco Simone and George Weah, Milan earned its 15th Italian championship. Milan's primary line-up under Capello in the winning season was: Sebastiano Rossi; Christian Panucci, Alessandro Costacurta, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini; Roberto Donadoni, Demetrio Albertini, Marcel Desailly; Zvonimir Boban; George Weah, Roberto Baggio.
After the departure of Fabio Capello in 1996, Milan recruited the Uruguayan Óscar Tabárez, but they struggled under the manager and were winless in their opening matches. In an attempt to regain former glories, the club brought back Arrigo Sacchi to replace Tabárez. The team then suffered their worst-ever Serie A defeat after being humiliated by Juventus at the San Siro, 1–6. Milan signed new players like Ibrahim Ba, Christophe Dugarry and Edgar Davids, though this did not stop Milan's struggles—they finished the year 11th in Serie A.
Sacchi was replaced with the returning Fabio Capello in the following season, whose new Milan signed many potential players like Christian Ziege, Patrick Kluivert, Jesper Blomqvist and Leonardo. The acquisitions, however, did little to reverse the team's recent ill fortunes—Milan still finished mid-table in tenth, prompting the termination of Capello.
In its search for a new manager, Alberto Zaccheroni attracted Milan's attention. Zaccheroni was the manager of Udinese who had ended the Season 1997–98 in third 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.
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 the Ukrainian Andriy Shevchenko, Milan disappointed their fans in both the Champions League and Serie A, exiting the former after winning just one out of six Group Stage matches and ending the domestic season third, never representing a realistic challenge to the top two of Lazio and Juventus.
The following season, Milan qualified for the 2000–01 Champions League by defeating Dinamo Zagreb 6–1 on aggregate. Milan started the Champions League on a high note, defeating Beşiktaş 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. In the second round of the Champions League, Milan won once and drew four times. They failed to beat Deportivo de La Coruña in the last game and Zaccheroni was subsequently fired.
Cesare Maldini, the father of team captain Paolo, was appointed and prospects immediately improved. Maldini's official coaching debut at Milan started with a 4–0 win over Bari, featuring a young Antonio Cassano. It was also under Maldini's leadership that Milan defeated their city rivals Inter with an outstanding score of 6–0, a score which has never been repeated and in which Serginho starred in the match. After this peak of form, however, 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 fourth place in the league at the end of the season, but Maldini failed and the team ended sixth.
Milan began the 2001–02 campaign signing more star players, including Javi Moreno and Cosmin Contra, who both helped Alavés reach the 2001 UEFA Cup final. The team also signed Kakha Kaladze (from Dynamo Kyiv), Rui Costa (from Fiorentina), Filippo Inzaghi (from Juventus), Martin Laursen (from Hellas Verona), Jon Dahl Tomasson (from Feyenoord), Ümit Davala (from Galatasaray) and Andrea Pirlo (from rivals Inter). Replacing Cesare Maldini was Fatih Terim, who had moderate initial success with the team. After five months, however, Milan was far removed from the top five in the league, and Terim was subsequently 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 led Milan to a fourth-place finish, thus 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.
- 2002–03 (3rd in Serie A, Champions of Europe)
Milan ended the season with their sixth Champions League trophy in 2003. En route to the final at Old Trafford, Manchester, Milan beat their cross city rivals Inter in the semi-finals and beat another other Italian rival, Juventus, in a dramatic penalty shoot-out. That same season, Milan placed third in Serie A and won both the Coppa Italia and UEFA Super Cup. The team's 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. The following season, Milan signed Kaká. The team earned the nickname "I Meravigliosi" ("The Amazings").
- 2003–04 (Champions in Serie-A, Quarter Finals in Champions League)
Milan set a points record to win the Scudetto with a team that was largely kept constant for nearly five years—an attack spearheaded by striker Andriy Shevchenko, playmaking by Kaká and defence by Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini. Milan's season, however, was not perfect as they were beaten by Deportivo La Coruña 0–4 in the quarter-finals of the 2003–04 Champions League despite winning the first leg 4–1 at the San Siro. Despite being Italian champions, Milan showed, as some critics said, weak midfield character that would repeat itself in the Champions League final in the following season. Nevertheless, the squad proved successful and able to express a brilliant style of play for many months.
- 2004–05 (2nd in Serie A, 2nd in Champions League)
Hernán Crespo, on loan from Chelsea, proved to be a solid acquisition for Milan, while midfielder Massimo Ambrosini scored an incredible late goal against PSV. The season, however, ended in disastrous defeat in Istanbul's Atatürk Stadium in the 2005 Champions League final. In the game, Milan relinquished a 3–0 half-time lead against Liverpool after conceding three goals in a span of just six minutes before ultimately losing 3–2 on penalties. Milan ended the season in second place to Juve in Serie A and Italian Super Cup champions over Lazio.
- 2005–06 (3rd in Serie A, Semi Finals in Champions League)
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 due to their record-setting pace of 91 points, a record point total since broken. This success, however, 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 the season. In addition, Milan would start their 2006–07 campaign with –15 points. These point reductions, however, were later reduced to 30 and –8 respectively, providing Milan the chance to compete in the 2006–07 Champions League.
Milan's efforts in the Champions League that year also proved promising, though they ultimately fell short. After coming out on top of their group, Milan advanced to the knockout phase of the tournament, first defeating Bayern Munich on aggregate and then France's Lyon 3–1 on aggregate. In the semi-finals, they were eliminated by eventual champions Barcelona 0–1 on aggregate, where Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko had a goal controversially disallowed.
- 2006–07 (4th in Serie A, Won UEFA Champions League)
Milan's Serie A campaign began with an −8 point penalty resulting from the Calciopoli scandal. After a lackluster first half of the season that saw Milan hover in the middle of the standings, several January transfer acquisitions, 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 Champions League.
While their Serie A campaign proved moderately successful, the 2006–07 season is best remembered for the team's performance in the Champions 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, where they were matched-up against former European champion Red Star Belgrade. Milan were victorious in the qualifier and advanced to the group phase, which they would eventually win.
Milan survived a first round fight, defeating Celtic (eventual champions of that year's Scottish Premier League) 1–0 on aggregate after an extra time goal by Kaká. Milan would then go on to defeat Bayern Munich 4–2 on aggregate (2–2 at San Siro and 2–0 at Allianz Arena) to reach the semi-finals, marking the third consecutive, and fourth time in five years, that 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 through a brace from Kaká, ensuring a 1–2 lead at half-time. United would ultimately prove victorious, however, due to two second-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. The second leg of the semi-final was played at San Siro on 2 May, where Milan played a near-perfect first-half, taking a 2–0 lead into the break 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 final, pitting them in a rematch against their 2005 finals opponent, Liverpool. The match was played at the Olympic Stadium in Athens 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 European football's elite, with three Champions League final appearances in five years, including two victories.
- 2007–08 (5th in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in Europe, Won FIFA Club World Cup)
In the wake of a seventh European Cup/Champions League title, Milan continued their international success by winning the 2007 UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla 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, tying them for most club international trophies in the world. Ironically, Milan won their 18th title in a match against Boca Juniors, the team they were tied for the record.
These two trophies, however, only served as consolation for a 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 goalkeeper Dida, found the club sitting mid-table for the majority of the season, though new signing Alexandre Pato was a bright light for an otherwise dark season for Milan. By the end of the domestic campaign, Fiorentina edged Milan out for fourth place in the standings, knocking them out of qualification for the 2008–09 Champions League, the team's first failure to reach the tournament since 2001–02.
Milan's involvement in the 2007–08 edition of the Champions League was also forgettable. While the club won its group, they were quickly eliminated by Arsenal 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.
- 2008–09 (3rd in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in UEFA Cup)
After a poor domestic season the year prior, the club made numerous additions during the off-season, signing Ronaldinho from Barcelona and re-acquiring former star Andriy Shevchenko from Chelsea, in addition to adding Gianluca Zambrotta, Marco Borriello and Mathieu Flamini, amongst others. They also later added international sensation David Beckham during the January transfer window on loan from the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS). Despite the high-profile additions, the season started poorly after two consecutive losses. The team bounced back, however, rising to first spot in the table for one week in the first half of the season before later dropping behind rivals Inter, who would go on to win their fourth-straight Serie A championship.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the 2008–09 season was the retirement of footballing legend Paolo Maldini, who played all of his professional club games for Milan in a career that spanned 25 years.
- 2009–10 (3rd in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in Europe)
The season started with the dismissal of the head coach Carlo Ancelotti and the hiring of his replacement, former Milan player Leonardo. During the transfer season, the club's major activity was the sale of Kaká for a then-world record transfer fee of €64.5 million to Real Madrid.
The start of the season was poor, as the team failed to win several matches. But the results started to change in the victory against Roma, and the crucial victory over Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. The season included the resurgence of Ronaldinho, Marco Borriello and new players Luca Antonini and Ignazio Abate. Although the Rossoneri achieved some important results, they were eliminated from the Champions League by Manchester United and lost the Serie A race to Inter. At the end of the season, Leonardo resigned despite Milan's wishes to keep him in the position.
- 2010–11 (1st in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in Europe)
Following a season of relative disappointment, with regards to signings and results, club president Silvio Berlusconi reinforced Milan by signing Zlatan Ibrahimović in a loan deal from Barcelona, Robinho from Manchester City 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.
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 began performing well and soon reached the top of the Serie A table from November onwards. The new signings of Ibrahimović and Robinho paid dividends; along with Pato, the three would score 19 goals between them (Ibrahimović, nine; Robinho, six; Pato, four) by the end of the 2010 calendar year. The defensive partnership of Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva in front of goalkeeper Christian Abbiati also gave Milan one of Serie A's top defences.
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 in Brazil. Many of these signings, however, had already participated in the Champions League earlier in the season, meaning that they were cup-tied and thus unable to play for Milan the year's tournament. This, coupled with the numerous injuries, resulted in Milan's elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in the first knockout round.
In the league, however, 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.
- 2012–13 (3rd in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in Europe)
In the 2012–13 Champions League knockout round, Milan won their home leg 2–0 over Barcelona. This was unfortunately not enough as they were comprehensively beaten 4–0 in the return leg. A third-place league finish behind Juventus and Napoli secured a Champions League berth for the following season.
- 2013–14 (8th in Serie A, Eliminated First Knockout Round in Europe)
Hardship struck the Italian giants in the subsequent 2013–14 season, with the club knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by Atlético Madrid and numerous under-par results leaving the club with an eighth-placed finish in Serie A. The dismissal of Clarence Seedorf as head coach soon followed.
- 2014–15 (10th in Serie A)
Milan hoped to turn around this run of bad fortune in the 2014–15 campaign under new boss Filippo Inzaghi. Convincing wins over Lazio (3–1) and Parma (5–4) at the beginning of the season seemed to display a change in performance, as Milan sat top of Serie A heading into October 2014. However, a deterioration in morale and what many had blamed on a lack of key signings doomed Milan to a tenth-placed finish. Club legend Inzaghi was subsequently sacked as head coach.
- 2015–16 (7th in Serie A)
A raft of change came prior to the 2015–16 campaign. Siniša Mihajlović was recruited as head coach after he guided Sampdoria to a seventh-place finish the previous season. Club president Silvio Berlusconi splashed cash in order to bring a raft of talent into the club, including the signings of prolific Sevilla and Colombian international forward Carlos Bacca and 20-year-old Italian starlet Alessio Romagnoli from Roma for €30 million each; Genoa midfielder Andrea Bertolacci was also added for €20 million.
The club went on a ten-game unbeaten run in December to February, a period in which the club peaked at fifth place in Serie A and which included a 2–0 win over Fiorentina and a 3–0 victory over Inter in the Derby della Madonnina. The Rossoneri also reached the final of the season's Coppa Italia, defeating third-tier giant-killers Alessandria in the semi-finals.
A string of embarrassing results, such as a 3–3 draw at home with lowly Frosinone (in which they had to fight back from 3–1 down) and failure to overcome relegation-threatened Hellas Verona, saw the sacking of Mihajlović as coach and the appointment of Cristian Brocchi for the remainder of the season.
Unfortunately, this was not enough as Milan would see themselves leapfrogged by Sassuolo during the penultimate round of Serie A matches and finished in seventh, just outside the European spots. Hope remained, however, as defeating Juventus in the Coppa Italia final on 21 May would see them qualify for the Europa League. Milan ultimately lost the match 1–0 after extra time thanks to a late Álvaro Morata strike.
- 2016–17 (6th in Serie A)
At the beginning of the season, Vincenzo Montella was hired as the new manager. Montella managed to win the 2016 Supercoppa Italiana which was Milan's first trophy in 5 years as well as taking the club back to Europe after 3 years.
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- Lowe, Sid (21 February 2013). "Barcelona's black night draws ire as warning signs are ignored in Milan". The Guardian. London.