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Marcel "Marco" van Basten (31 October 1964) is a Dutchmarker football manager and former head coach of Eredivisie side AFC Ajax and the Dutch national team. Previously, he was a football player who played for Ajax and A.C. Milan in the 1980s and early 1990s. He is regarded as one of the finest forwards of all time and scored 277 goal in a career cut short by injury. Known for his strength on the ball, his tactical awareness and spectacular strikes and volley, van Basten was named European Footballer of the Year three times (1988, '89 and '92) and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992. Van Basten was voted eighth in a poll organised by the French weekly magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century. In 2004, a nationwide pool was held for the 100 greatest Dutch people (De Grootste Nederlander) and van Basten was number 25, the second highest for a football player.

Playing career

Early years

Marco van Basten was born on 31 October 1964 in Utrechtmarker. He began playing for a local team, EDO, when he was seven years old. A year later, he moved to UVV Utrecht. After 10 years there, he briefly played for another club from Utrecht, Elinkwijk.


AFC Ajax signed van Basten for the 1981-82 season. He played his first game for Ajax in April 1982, scoring a debut goal in the 5-0 victory over NEC.

In the 1982-83 season, he competed with the European top scorer Wim Kieft for the position of centre forward, and scored nine goals in 20 league matches. After Kieft left for Serie A club Pisa the next season, van Basten solidified his position as the team's main attacker.

He became a top scorer in the league for four seasons from 1983-84 to 1986-87, scoring 117 goals in 112 matches. In the 1985-86 season, he scored 37 goals in 26 league matches, including six goals against Sparta Rotterdam and five against Heracles Almelo, and won the European Golden Boot. He also scored the winning goal in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final against Lokomotive Leipzig in 1987.


In 1987, Silvio Berlusconi signed van Basten for A.C. Milan, with fellow countrymen Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard joining in 1988. In his first season, Milan won their first Scudetto in eight years, but van Basten played only 11 games and was constantly troubled by an ankle injury.

In 1988-89, van Basten won the Ballon d'Or as Europe's top footballer. He scored 19 goals in Serie A and scored two goals in the final of European Cup as Milan triumphed against Steaua Bucureşti.

In 1989-90, he became Capocannoniere, Serie A's leading goal scorer, and Milan successfully defended the European Cup after beating S.L. Benfica in the final match.

Milan struggled in the 1990-91 season, as Sampdoria won the Scudetto. After van Basten fell out with Arrigo Sacchi, Berlusconi sacked the manager. Fabio Capello took over the following season, and Milan went undefeated in the league to win another Scudetto. Van Basten scored 25 league goals, and became Capocannoniere again.

In November 1992, he scored four goals in a match against the Swedish team IFK Göteborg, setting a record for the number of goals scored by one player in a Champions League match. The record still stands, although there have been other players who subsequently scored four goals in a match in the European competition.

Milan stretched their unbeaten run into the 1992-93 season, going 58 matches over two seasons before they lost a game. Van Basten played exceptionally well in the early part of the season. He was again voted the European player of the year, becoming the third player after Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini to win the award three times.

His troublesome ankle injury recurred in a game against A.C. Ancona, forcing him to undergo another series of surgery. He returned for the last few games in the season, before Milan lost to Olympique de Marseille in the Champions League final. The match was van Basten's final game for the Italian club. He thereafter spent two years fighting to come back, but eventually announced retirement in 1995.

After retirement

He played in the Demetrio Albertini testimonial at the San Siromarker in March 2006, and headed in a goal before being substituted early in the first half. On 22 July 2006, he also returned for the testimonial to celebrate the 11-year Arsenal career of Dennis Bergkamp, in what was the first game played at the new Emirates Stadiummarker. He played in the second half for the Ajax legends team. He entered the match as part of a double substitution that also introduced Johan Cruyff.

In March 2007, Sky Sports ranked Marco van Basten the first on its list of the great footballers who had their careers cut short.

The Netherlands

Van Basten's talent was already noticed at a young age and he was called up for the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship. He made his senior debut that same year. At the UEFA Euro 1988, van Basten scored a total of five goals, including a hat trick against England, the winning goal in the semi-final against West Germany, and a spectacular volley in the final against the Soviet Union. He was the tournament's top scorer and was the only player to score more than two goals.

The Dutch national team exited early in the World Cup in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, losing to West Germany in the second round.

The Netherlands reached the semi-final of UEFA Euro 1992 when they lost to Denmark in a penalty shootout, with Peter Schmeichel saving a penalty shot from van Basten.

Managing career

Van Basten while manager of the Netherlands.
Van Basten officially left A.C. Milan in 1995 and retired from football, stating he would never try management. However, he changed his mind and took a course with the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB). His first stint as a manager was as an assistant to his former teammate John van 't Schip with the second team of AFC Ajax in 2003-04. On 29 July 2004, van Basten was named the new manager of the Dutch national team, with van 't Schip as his assistant.

As a manager, he soon established himself as a man of strong principles. Van Basten famously dropped regulars like Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids and Roy Makaay and benched Mark van Bommel, because he believed that they were either past their prime or constantly underachieving.

There were also calls for van Basten to call up Dennis Bergkamp, who had retired from the national team six years earlier for a final "hurrah" as he was retiring that season. Van Basten then revealed to the media that he never intended to do so despite Bergkamp's own willingness.

For probably the first time in decades, none of the "Big Three" Clubs (AFC Ajax, PSV, and Feyenoord) provided the backbone for the national team. Instead, newcomer AZ led the way with players such as Denny Landzaat, Barry Opdam, Barry van Galen, Ron Vlaar, Jan Kromkamp and Joris Mathijsen. Other unheralded choices were Khalid Boulahrouz, Hedwiges Maduro, Ryan Babel and Romeo Castelen selected. Van Basten had also wanted to include Ivorianmarker forward Salomon Kalou, but was thwarted when Kalou was denied Dutch citizenship by the immigration authorities headed by Rita Verdonk. Kalou eventually accepted a call-up to play for Côte d'Ivoire.

Under his guidance, the team were unbeaten in their World Cup qualification group and made it through the group stages at the FIFA World Cup 2006, but were eliminated in a frenzied 1-0 loss to Portugal in the Round of 16. Van Basten was heavily criticised for dropping Ruud van Nistelrooy (who had scored 28 goals for the Netherlands) before this game, in favour of Dirk Kuyt, who did not score throughout the entire tournament.

In November 2006, van Basten recalled exiled A.C. Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf for a friendly against England at the Amsterdam ArenAmarker. In May 2007, van Basten announced the end of his long-running dispute with Real Madrid forward Ruud van Nistelrooy, who had previously declared never to play for a Dutch national squad with van Basten as its manager. Other players, such as Roy Makaay, Mark van Bommel, Boudewijn Zenden, and Edgar Davids, however, remained out of favour.

Van Basten had a contract with the KNVB for managing the Dutch national side until 2008. The KNVB had expressed its wishes to extend his contract to include the World Cup qualification route to 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. On 22 February 2008, van Basten signed a four-year contract with AFC Ajax, starting from 1 July. His last tournament thus was the UEFA Euro 2008, where the Netherlands surprised with a strong round 1 performance. They were beaten in an upset by Guus Hiddink's Russia in the quarter finals.

Van Basten became trainer of Ajax after Euro 2008 but resigned on 6 May 2009 after his team failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League.


Club honours



International honours

Individual honours



  • Cup include domestic cups and supercups
  • Continental include European cups, European supercup and Intercontinental cup



External links

1981-82 Ajax Eredivisie 1 1 1 0 - 2 1
1982-83 20 9 5 4 - 25 13
1983-84 26 28 4 1 2 0 32 29
1984-85 33 22 4 2 4 5 41 29
1985-86 26 37 1 0 2 0 29 37
1986-87 27 31 7 6 9 6 43 43

1987-88 Milan Serie A 11 3 5 5 3 0 19 8
1988-89 33 19 5 4 9 10 47 33
1989-90 26 19 4 1 7 4 37 24
1990-91 31 11 1 0 3 0 34 11
1991-92 31 25 7 4 - 38 29
1992-93 15 13 2 1 5 6 22 20
G W D L Win %
July 2004
July 2008

July 2008
May 2009


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