Marco van Basten

One of the best and the most brilliant strikers in the history of football, an outstanding technician and an artist on the field, the Dutchman Marco van Basten was born in Utrecht, in the heart of the Netherlands, on October 31, 1964. Van Basten (in the Netherlands Marco van Basten) – gold medalist of Euro 1988 and bronze Euro 1992. Three times he became the champion of Holland, Italy and the owner of the Dutch Cup in football. Marco won two European Cup championships, the Intercontinental Cup and the European Super Bowl and in one season Van Basten won the Cup Winners’ Cup. Once he was awarded the “Golden Boot” prize, and three times – the “Golden Ball” trophy.

– I’ve never seen  more elegant a football player than van Basten. The goal machine, which broke just when it was supposed to become the greatest in the world, –  the legendary Diego Maradona said about the Dutchman.


Marco’s talent has been revealed since his earliest childhood, which, perhaps, was greatly owing to  the fact that Marco was born in a sports family: his father was popular in Holland as a football player in the middle of the 20th century, and his mother was a highly qualified gymnast. Marco has far surpassed the sports achievements of his parents. Many experts call him “the ideal attacker” till now, and during his brilliant career in the 80s and early 90s in Holland and the clubs, whose honor he defended, he was simply “adored”. Marco even received the nickname “Utrecht swan” for his beautiful posture and beautiful elegant style of play.

Van Basten was not yet eighteen when a symbolic football relay was handed to him by another famous “Flying Dutchman” – Johan Cruyff. This happened in the first adult team of Marco: the Amsterdam “Ajax” in the spring of 1982, when Van Basten replaced the retiring star of the past generations  Cruyff in the second half, having scored his first goal in his first match. In the following season, the young striker played for Ajax for more than half of the season and scored 9 goals, while he expressed himself at the 1983 World Youth Championship.

This concludes the prologue of his brilliant football career. From the next season, Marco became a real star and a key player in the most popular Dutch club. For 4 years, the “wizard of the ball” Van Basten scored at least twenty goals in the national championship, and in two seasons – 31 and 37. Record 1986 brought Van Basten “Golden Boot” – the prize of the best scorer of Europe among club teams.

During the period of performances for the Amsterdam club Van Basten compiled a magnificent collection of football trophies “for all tastes and colors”: a three-time Dutch champion, a two-time cup holder, a Cup Winners’ Cup winner (his only goal in the final brought the victory to Ajax). And the most amazing is his performance for the years spent in Amsterdam: 128 goals in 133 matches – a great indicator, that is worth admiration.

Marco became famous throughout Europe and the most titled European clubs  wanted to get him. According to the legend, it  only took  one minute for  the owner of the Italian “Milan” Silvio Berlusconi, who tried to restore the worstened position of the Rossoneri and did not spare the money for class players, to watch the video recording of Van Basten’s game to immediately offer him a place in the lineup.

Thus, Marco became the forward of the famous Italian club. He was in the company with Ruud Gullit, and a year later with Frank Rajkaard. Thus, “Milan” received at its disposal a beautiful Dutch trio, which played a key role in the club for many years. Marco did not step aside from his tradition and scored a goal in the first match for AC Milan, and the club won  its first Scudetto in that season for almost 10 years.

But the wonderful beginning of his career in the new club, alas, was marred by a serious injury. Such is the destiny of the “artists” on the field and bright, productive forwards – they’ve got their legs beaten, often using harsh, unlawful methods. That year Van Basten got an ankle injury, which would hinder him for the rest of his career.

At the European Championship in 1988, Marco performed so brightly, that after the tournament everyone considered him the best player in the world at that time. Some of his achievements in that tournament: a hat-trick against England and one of the most beautiful goals in the history of football, scored from the summer almost from the zero corner, in the final match against the Soviet national team, which then defended Rinat Dasayev. In 1988, Marco was officially recognized as the best football player in Europe. In the 1989-90 season Van Basten scored 19 goals in the Italian Serie A and won the Champions Cup with Milan.

The following year, Marco again made an equally effective contribution to the goal scoring , which in the conditions of the Italian championship, traditionally playing defense, is an excellent result. He also made a huge contribution to the retention of the European club crown, which  went to the Rossoneri again.

In 1992, 1993 and 1994, “Milan” won the Scudetto of the Italian championship three times in a row, having established during this period the national record of 34 consecutive games without defeats in Serie A, and then even more improving it, bringing this number to the breathtaking – 58 matches without defeats in all, without exception, tournaments (this achievement is unlikely to be beaten in the foreseeable future). All this time, Marco continued to “stamp” fantastic goals, scoring 20 or more goals per season, making a huge contribution to the tournament success of his team.

At the 1992 European Championships, the Netherlands  showed the whole world its brand attacking football once again; many people expected the victory, but they lost in the semi-finals in the football lottery – a series of post-match penalties – to the future champions, the Danes, and for the malicious irony of football fortune one of the unrealized penalty strokes fell to the share of Marco Van Basten. This blow was his last touch of the ball in the matches for the national team. And he was not even 28 years old …

Every fairy tale comes to an end sooner or later. By 1993, Van Basten had already undergone surgery 4 times, and the medical headquarters of Milan, when the issue of the fifth operation arose due to chronic pain and  problems with his legs,  refused to give their permission for it, since it  could cause serious consequences to the player, up to disability. Marco was prescribed conservative treatment, he missed a huge part of the season and went on the field  a couple of matches before its end,  it turned out to be his last official match in his career – in the Champions League final against Marseille in May 1993.

That match, the red and black lost 0-1, despite the fact that Van Basten created a lot of moments for himself and his teammates. A month later, in June 1993, Marco got married. The wedding took place in his homeland in an ancient castle not far from Utrecht. Later God  gave the illustrious striker three daughters – Jessica, Angela and Rebecca.

Talent always dies in different deaths. Van Basten, unlike other masters of the “round leather ball”, did not become a drunkard, did not get conceited and did not become a drug addict. Continuation of the brilliant career of the notorious football striker was hampered by the cruelty of his fellow footballers, who mercilessly beat him on the legs , trying to take the ball from him. When on his “working tools” – his legs, there wasn’t  one single healthy place anymore, and the question arose not even about the continuation of his career, but about the elementary continuation of normal human existence, only then Marco Van Basten, who patiently endured and overcame all adversity of his health, was forced to leave  the big sport.

Now many people say that modern medicine could have prolonged his football career. These versions don’t seem to be very thorough, as not only the ability of doctors allows the football player to enjoy the game as long as possible, but, first and foremost, honest and caring attitude of the players from the rival teams to their  fellow “on the line”.

Marco could not completely leave football, burying his talent and knowledge.  10 years later, he returns as the coach of his native Amsterdam “Ajax” (first in the double of the main team). A year later in 2004, the National Football Federation of the Netherlands quite unexpectedly appointed him a coach of the Dutch national team, and he replaced the future coach of St. Petersburg’s Zenit Dick Advocaat.

Marco did not achieve great success at this post, although his team  showed the traditional sparkling attacking football of the “country of flowers.” However, at the last moment, in a decisive meeting, the opponent found counter-arguments against Van Basten’s squad. So it was at the World Championships in 2006, when in the 1/8 finals the Dutch lost to Portugal 0-1, so it was two years later at the European Championship, when the Russian national team, led by his compatriot Guus Hiddink, unconditionally beat the “orange” in the quarterfinals with a score 3-1.

In autumn 2008, Marco van Basten worked for several months as a head coach of the main team of masters of the club “Ajax”. In 2012, Van Basten was appointed a mentor of FC Heerenveen from the city with the same name in the Netherlands. As a result of his first season in the new club, he failed to win a single trophy – “Heerenveen” finished the championship with the ninth place.


128 for “Ajax” (Amsterdam, Holland)

90 for Milan (Milan, Italy)

2 for the youth national team of Holland (up to 20 years)

24 for the national team of Holland

Main achievements:

Champion of Europe: 1 time (1988)

Champion of Holland: 3 times (1982, 1983, 1985)

Holder of the Dutch Cup: 3 times (1983, 1986, 1987)

Winner of the Cup Winners’ Cup: 1 time (1987)

Champion of Italy: 3 times (1988, 1992, 1993)

The owner of the European Cup: 2 times (1989, 1990)

The owner of the Intercontinental Cup: 2 times (1989, 1990)

The winner of the European Super Cup: 2 times (1989, 1990)

The owner of the prize “Golden Boot”: 1 time (1986)

The winner of the “Golden Ball” prize: 3 times (1988, 1989, 1992)

FIFA Player of the Year: 1 time (1992)

Interesting Facts:

August 18, 1995 entered the football history  not with the day of the traditional event for Italy – a match for Berlusconi’s trophy between “Milan” and “Juventus”, but quite in a different way :

85 000 fans who came that evening at the “San Siro – Giuseppe Meazza” say goodbye to the great striker, who finished the playing career, with a friendly ovation they reacted to the words of their idol. Last time as a player.

With a great deal of confidence, we can say that fans have not admired someone that much since the time of Gianni Rivera. Marco did not suffer from pride and pathos, he did not have bravado and “star disease”, he completely focused on the game and was able to keep in touch with fans not with “patriotic” judgments through the media, but with the goals scored.

Like Johan Cruyff, van Basten outgrew his era, like his famous predecessor, he created a standard of actions for footballers of his role,  which tens and hundreds of other athletes will later strive for in vain, but striving to reach this point is practically unsuccessful.

As an antipode to Gullit and Rijkaard – his future teammates and Milan – Van Basten was not born in the bohemian and glamorous capital of the “flower kingdom” of Amsterdam, but in the provincial, though not without the modest charm,  Utrecht. It is noteworthy that exactly in 30 years in Utrecht another famous Dutch master of a leather ball will be born, although the bird of a more modest flight – Wesley Sneijder.

Van Basten and Gullit agreed to transfer to Milan on the night of November 19 to November 20, 1986 at the Amsterdam Hotel Amstel after an evening candlelight dinner with the head and owner of the Rossoneri Silvio Berlusconi. Together with Gullit was his wife Yvonne, and with van Basten – a friend of Lisbeth. For the first time, Berlusconi saw Van Basten a few months before the event on the videotape, which he was brought to Villa Di Arcore. Subsequently, Berlusconi recalled what preceded the meeting:

– On van Basten’s cassette, 36 of his goals were recorded. But after watching the fourteenth, I realized that Marco  necessarily has to be purchased, while someone did not get ahead of us.

When Marco van Basten was only 14 years old, the attending physician told him:

– If you do not want to be in a wheelchair by the age of 20, you must quit football. If you still can not live without it, play no more than once a week. Forget about becoming a professional player.

Father of van Basten, who stood nearby and heard this conversation, said to his son  behind the door of the medical office:

– Let’s pretend that this conversation has never taken place.

Marco remembered the words of the father, not the doctor, and became the greatest player in history. But he had to pay a high price after such a decision, waking up at night from acute pain in the ankles. And who knows whether the gloomy diagnosis of a simple Dutch surgeon Rein Strickwerda turned out to be prophetic, who  saw many years ago what the greatest sports physicians could not see  in the early 90s.

At the age of 9, an incident happened to Marco, which had a strong impact on his character and was remembered for life.  His friend drowned in the pond – the boy fell through under the thin ice. The young football player struggled to save his friend, but in vain. When van Basten’s father came running and pulled the drowning man ashore, he did not breathe anymore. Nightmares tormented Marco for months and years after this terrible event.

In June 1993, Marco van Basten married his long-time friend Lisbet van de Kappelen. They still live together and have two wonderful daughters – Jessica and Angela.


EDO (youth, Utrecht, Holland, 1970 – 1971)

UVB (youth, Utrecht, Holland, 1971 – 1980)

SPM (youth, Utrecht, Holland, 1980 – 1981)

“Ajax” (youth, Amsterdam, Holland, 1981 – 1982)

“Ajax” (Amsterdam, Holland, 1981 – 1987, 133 matches, 128 goals)

“Milan” (Milan, Italy, 1987 – 1993, 147 matches, 90 goals)

National team:

Holland (youth, under 20, 1983, 4 matches, 2 goals)

Holland (1983 – 1992, 58 matches, 24 goals)

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