Besides high-end fashion and sport car industry, Lombardy is the home for top football teams. Beware that four of the best AC Milan XI of all time are Ballon d'Or winners. In this article, we'll describe their glorious times with the club.
AC Milan is the second successful European club according to UEFA's most prestigious competitions formerly known as European Cup and today we know it as the champions league. It's been more than a century since Rossoneri won their first major trophy. They won 50 more glorious titles towards then and currently are competing for their 19th Scudetto. For many generations, an enormous number of superstars have played for them.
There are many great players missing in the list but we should blameMilan
for having too many legendary veterans in their rich history. In the list of best AC Milan XI of all time will see players who have been the best player of the world at their peak. The same is true for some of the missing names.
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AC Milan can claim to have the most illustrious history of any football club in history.
Sebastiano Rossi is one of the
all-time greatest XI of AC Milan
, who spent 12 seasons with the team. During 21 years of his professional career, he appeared in 346 games in Serie A, of which 240 of them was for Milan. He was a tall, aggressive, and physically strong goalkeeper and was mostly known for his confidence and organizing the defense line.
Rossi held the record for the longest streak without conceding a goal in Serie A history. In 11 matches from December 1993 to February 1994, he kept a clean sheet for 929 minutes. His record was suppressed byGianluigi Buffon
in 2016 by 45 minutes. Rossi also holds the record for the fewest goals conceded by a goalkeeper during a single 34-match Italian league season, with 11.
He joined the Rossoneri in 1990 and together they dominated Italian football for most of the 1990s. until 2002, he capped in 330 games for Milan in all competitions. he is the club's second-most capped keeper of all time, behind only Christian Abbiati’s record, 380 games. With the club, they won the 1993-94 champions league, 1990 and 1994 Super Cups, and the 1990 International cup. Also, they won 5 Serie A titles and three consecutive Supercoppa Italiana from 1992 to 1994. As one of the best AC Milan XI of all time, he later got his name in the AC Milan hall of fame.
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Mauro Tassotti is regarded as one of Italy’s greatest defenders, who is also one of the
AC Milan best XI of all time
. He is mostly remembered for his role alongside Maldini, Baresi, Galli, and Costacurta in the legendary Milan backline of the late 80s and the early 90s under Sacchi and Capello. Tassotti started his senior career inLazio
and after two seasons joined AC Milan in 1980. He stayed at the club for 17 years until retirement as a player and began his managing career, also in Milan.
Following Lazio and Milan’s relegation toSerie B
due to the match-fixing scandal, he transferred to Milan, during a dark period in the club history. Although Tassotti primarily excelled defensively, he was also one of the first players in his position to be capable of being an offensive threat, due to his pace, athleticism, and technique, as well as his ability to make attacking runs, dribble and provide accurate crosses and assists from the right-wing.
He played in 583 games for Milan and scored 10 goals. During those 17 years, they won two Serie B and fiveSerie A
titles. In 1988, they won the Supercoppa Italiana and the champions league title. The next year they also won the champions league, international cup, and super cup. As one of the all-time greatest XI of AC Milan, he also was part of the squad winning three consecutive Supercoppa Italiana alongside Rossi. Later he joined his teammates in the AC Milan hall of fame.
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Alessandro “Billy” Costacurta was a member of the greatest defense line of managers Sacchi and Capello, alongside Baresi, Maldini, and Tassotti. Originally a member of Milan youth side product, he played for Milan senior club for over 20 years from 1986 to 2007, after a brief spell on loan atMonza
. Costacurta is regarded as one of the best defenders in history and one of the
best AC Milan XI of all time
He was a versatile defender and a man-marking centre-back (stopper in Italian) but also played as a sweeper or even a defensive midfielder occasionally. Despite being a defender, he was an accurate penalty taker. In 20 years playing for Milan, he appeared in 663 games in all the competitions.
Under Sacchi and Capello’s management, they also won fourSupercoppa Italiana
titles, three UEFA super cups, two international cups, five Serie A, and three champions league titles. After Capello’s departure in 1996, Milan faced dark times in its history. Costacurta was also named Milan's vice-captain, after Maldini. Costacurta’s former teammate, Carlo Ancelotti became manager. He helped Milan to gain their strength and Costacurta would form part of another excellent defense, alongside Maldini, Nesta, and Cafu.
At the end of the 2002 season, he decided to leave Milan at the age of 36. However, Milan lacked defenders in their squad, therefore Galliani recalled him. Under Ancelotti, they won the 2003 Serie A and Super cup, the 2002 Coppa Italia, 2004 Suppercoppa Italiana, and two of Costacurta’s five champions league titles. As one of the AC Milan best XI of all time, he retired in 2007 and became a member of Ancelotti’s coaching staff.
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Franco Baresi was also a product of Milan youth side and is one of the
AC Milan all-time greatest XI
. His senior career began in 1977 and also ended in Milan in 1997. He had initially rejected by theInternazionale youth team
, who chose his brother Giuseppe instead. In 1978, he became one of the starting 11, winning the Serie A title alongside Capello and Rivera. Due to the match-fixing scandals, Milan was relegated to Serie B two times in 1980 and 82. Baresi stayed with the club during those hard times and became the captain at age 22.
Baresi is regarded as one of the best AC Milan XI of all time. Although he was capable of playing anywhere along the backline, he primarily excelled as a center back and as a sweeper. As a member of Italian football and Milan hall of fame, he became AC Milan player of the century in 1999 and AIC Serie A player of the Century in 2000. In 20 years and 719 games for Milan, he won six Serie A and four Supercoppa Italiana titles with the club. Also, they won two consecutive champions league and another one in 1993. Baresi was also runner-up to teammate van Basten for the Ballon d'Or in 1989, finishing ahead of his other teammate Frank Rijkaard, and was named Serie A Footballer of the Year in 1989–90.
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Paolo Maldini is an example of Italian defensive crafts work. He's so big that when he retired Rossoneri retired his number 3 as well. Maldini's family has been in Milan for three generations. Paolo had been in the Rossoneri lineup from mid 80s to the late 2000s and in thirteen years he was wearing the captain's armband.
Maldini holds the record for most appearances for Milan with 647 Serie A caps. He used to have the same title for entire Italy before Gianluigi Buffon surpassed him. Yet he still holds the record for European appearances. Il Capitano has played in all of the defensive roles for Rossoneri. He is one of the most notable players who have been in just one club for his entire career. Only a few clubs have more trophies than Paolo Maldini. He has won seven Scudetti, five Supercoppa Italiana, one Coppa Italia, and of course five Champions Leagues.
As one of the best AC Milan XI of all time, Maldini has been in the third place of Ballon d'Or twice in 1994 and 2003. This is a big achievement for a defender. World Soccer Player of the 1994 award handed to him. In the next year, he was about to win FIFA World Player of the 1995 title, but his teammate George Weah was rewarded eventually. Maldini is currently the technical director of AC Milan.
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Andrea Pirlo is one of the best midfielders in football history and one of the
AC Milan best ever XI
. His unique ball control and technique alongside with hawk-eyed vision and vigilant game reading gift made his iconic style of play. Pirlo is the definition of a regista. His duty was to start the playmaking deep down near the defenders by his accurate short passes or trademark long ones. Pirlo's lack of physical strength and pace was not a problem in that position.
He joined Milan from the city rivals Inter and spent one decade in Rossoneri. Pirlo won two Scudetti and two UEFA Champions League with Milan. He was one of the most important players of Italy's 2006 World Cup winning squad. The other factor that makes Pirlo one of the AC Milan best 11 of all time is that he was one of the best free kickers football has ever seen. He has scored 26 goals from free-kicks in Serie A and only Siniša Mihajlović has scored more.
Pirlo has included in IFFHS World's Best Playmaker top 10 lists for 6 times. He was nominated for the Ballon d'Or award three times and his best place was 5th in 2007. Pirlo has played in almost all of the midfield positions during his career. Despite Pirlo didn't win the big individual award but he proved his worth many times.
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Gianni Rivera spent almost all of his football career in Milan. Rivera is regarded as one of the best footballers of Italy's history. His creative playmaking and intelligence tactical minded skills made a perfect attacking midfielder out of him.
Rivera made his Serie A debut at the age of fifteen against Inter Milan. That made him the third youngest player in history debuting in Serie A. His performance during that season was good enough for Milan to sign him fromAlessandria
. Rivera won his first Scudetto one year after joining Rossoneri. Soon he became a key player while he was only eighteen years old.
Rivera played a big role for Milan to win their first European Cup title in 1963. That year he was nominated for the Ballon d'Or title and finished runner up. As one of the
best AC Milan XI of all time
, he was twenty years old and already became a high-profile footballer. Besides his playmaking abilities, Rivera scored many goals himself. He was awarded a Capocannoniere (Serie A top goal scorer) in 1972-73 and two Coppa Italia top scorer in 1966-67 and 1970-71. Rivera scored 164 goals in 658 appearances for Milan and he is the club's third all-time goal scorer. In 1969 he once again won the European Cup with Milan, only this time he was the Captain. In that year Ballon d'Or was handed to him. He truly deserves to be on our list of AC Milan best ever XI.
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Kaká is one of the best players of his generation and one of the AC Milan all-time greatest XI. He is the last Ballon d'Or winner before theMessi
-Ronaldo era. Kaka's performance was so good that Milan loaned out Rivaldo and their most expensive sign-in Rui Costa became his backup. Carlo Ancelotti used Kaka's playmaking skills, pace and dribbling techniques in the attacking midfielder role perfectly. At the end of the season, Kaká received the Serie A footballer of the year award.
Having Gattuso and Seedorf as two powerful support and Pirlo as a deep-lying playmaker helped Kaká to easily penetrate into the opponent’s defense and make several goal opportunities for Andriy Shevchenko and Hernan Crespo. In this line-up, Kaká became UEFA club midfielder of the year, despite losing the UEFA champions league final againstLiverpool
Two years later was the dream year for the Brazilian, because Milan once again faced Liverpool in the champions league final but this time Milan was the winner whereas the top goal scorer of the competition, Kaká scored 10 goals. He received UEFA club footballer and club forward of the year in 2007, As well as Serie A footballer of the year for the second time, FIFA world player of the year, and world soccer player of the year. that was the year that Kaká was awarded Ballon d'Or. After two more wonderful years, Kaká left Milan to joinedReal Madrid
to form a new Galácticos team withCristiano Ronaldo
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When Andriy Shevchenko joined Milan fromDynamo Kyiv
, he was the most expensive sign in for Rossoneri. In his first season in Italy, Shevchenko not only filled the vacancy of George Weah but also became Milan's main striker above Oliver Bierhoff. In fact, he became Serie A top scorer with 24 goals, ahead of Gabriel Batistuta and Hernan Crespo. In 6 out of 7 seasons in his first spell in Milan, Shevchenko was the top goal scorer of the club. His scoring abilities were remarkable and he showed no mercy to the opponents especially inside the box.
Shevchenko's career peaked in 2003-04 seasons. In the previous season, Milan had won the Coppa Italia and more importantly UEFA Champions League and it was time for Milan's first Scudetto in the new millennium. As one of the best AC Milan XI of all time, he won his second Capocannoniere award and Supercoppa Italiana alongside Serie A championship. It all led to winning the Ballon d'Or by the Ukrainian contract killer in the same year.
In the next season, Rossoneri reached the Champions League final again but they lost to Liverpool in the penalty shoot outs. Shevchenko holds the record for the most goals in The Derby della Madonnina. He netted 14 goals against the old rival Inter. After scoring 127 goals in 208 league matches for Milan, he left on a record-breaking transfer toChelsea
. He was truly one of the
AC Milan greatest XI of all time
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Despite his career was short, Marco van Basten is considered one the best footballers and one of the best AC Milan XI of all time. The legendary Dutch striker has only played for two clubs in his professional career. The first time he played was inAjax
and he got to the field as a substitute to replace the great Johan Cruyff. Van Basten scored a goal in his very first match. Five years later, he was the best striker in whole Holland and was name asEredivisie
's top scorer four consecutive seasons.
Milan had probably the best defensive lineup in football at the time and all they need was a goal scorer in the front line. van Basten was the man for the job but he was not alone, Milan brought van Basten's closest rival Ruud Gullit to become teammates. They formed one of the most powerful teams in football history under the manager Arrigo Sacchi. Van Basten was famous for his acrobatic goals, specially volleys and bicycle kicks.
Van Basten's stunning performances helped Milan win 16 titles including four Scudetti and three Champions Leagues. As one of the
AC Milan best 11 of all time
, van Basten himself won numerous awards and titles like winning the Ballon d'Or and UEFA best player of the year awards, both three times. In 1992 he was named FIFA world player and world soccer player of the year. His last match is the 1993 Champions League final againstMarseille
. They lost the final to the French team but the most unfortunate thing was that one of the most talented footballers had to farewell to the field at the age of 28.
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Gunnar Nordahl is one of the greatest footballers in Serie A history. He is all-time Milan's top scorer. Before joining Milan in 1948, Nordahl had high profile achievements in Swedish football. Nordahl is the third on theSweden national team
goal scorers list. He scored 43 goals in only 33 matches for Sweden with a remarkable 1.3 ratio of goals per match. Nordahl's national team performances ended with winning the 1948 Olympics goal medal where he was the top scorer of the tournament.
Nordahl's club career is full of magnificent records and honors too. He was named Swedish league top scorer four times and that is a record. In the 1948-49 season, Nordahl leftNorrköping
after scoring 93 goals in 95 league games. During 8 seasons playing for AC Milan, Nordahl has a record of winning the Capocannoniere (Italian league top scorer) title five. He appeared in 257 league matches for Milan and netted 210 times. As one of the best AC Milan XI of all time, he is the third all-time Serie A top goal scorer with 225 but he has the best ratio with 0.77.
With Nordahl Milan won two Scudetti in 1950-51 and 1955-56. he holds the record for most hat tricks in Serie A jointly with Giuseppe Meazza (17). Some of the records the Swedish legend holds seems to be quite unattainable, Especially when it's about performances per match. That's why he is the last one of the AC Milan greatest XI of all time.