Marco van Basten

Marco van Basten
Marco van Basten
Marco van Basten © Paul Blank
Personal information
Full name Marcel van Basten
Date of birth 31 October 1964 (1964-10-31) (age 47)
Place of birth Utrecht, Netherlands
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)[1]
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1981–1982 Ajax
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1987 Ajax[2] 133 (128)
1987–1995 Milan 147 (90)
Total 280 (218)
National team
1981 Netherlands U21 15 (13)
1983–1992 Netherlands[2] 58 (24)
Teams managed
2003–2004 Jong Ajax
2004–2008 Netherlands
2008–2009 Ajax
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Marcel "Marco" van Basten (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɑrkoˑ vɑmˈbɑstə(n)]; 31 October 1964) is a Dutch football manager and former football player, who played for AFC Ajax and A.C. Milan, as well as the Dutch national team, in the 1980s and early 1990s. He is regarded as one of the greatest forwards of all time and has scored 277 goals in a high-profile career, which ended in 1995 as a result of an injury suffered two years earlier.

He was later the head coach of AFC Ajax and the Dutch national team.

Known for his strength on the ball, his tactical awareness and spectacular strikes and volleys, 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.[3] In 2004, a nationwide poll was held for the 100 greatest Dutch people (De Grootste Nederlander) and van Basten was number 25, the second highest for a football player[citation needed].

In March 2007, Sky Sports ranked van Basten first on its list of great athletes who had their careers cut short.[4]


Playing career

Early years

Van Basten was born on 31 October 1964 in Utrecht. 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 the 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 became the first player to score four goals in a Champions League match, including a picture perfect bicycle kick. The goals came against the Swedish team IFK Göteborg.

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[5] 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 had been hopeful of playing for his country at the 1994 World Cup as well as for his club in the 1994-95 season after spending the whole 1993-94 season out of action (missing Milan's victory in the European Cup as well as their Serie A title glory),[6] but his club ordered him not to take part in the World Cup amid fear of ruining his rehabilitation.[7] He finally conceded defeat in his battle to recover on 17 August 1995, when he announced his retirement as a player after two whole years on sidelines.[8]

After retirement

He played in the Demetrio Albertini testimonial at the San Siro 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 Stadium. 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.


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.[9] 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. Van Basten never scored in the World Cup Finals.

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 Dutch 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,[10] 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 Ivorian 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.

Van Basten (left) with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar during training prior to Euro 2008.

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 ArenA. 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.[11][dead link] 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.[12] His last tournament thus was the UEFA Euro 2008, where the Netherlands surprised with a strong round 1 performance. They beat world champions Italy 3-0 in their first match, followed by a 4-1 win over World Cup runners-up France. In their third game, already qualified for the next round, van Basten selected non-regulars such as Maarten Stekelenburg, Wilfred Bouma and Ibrahim Afellay for the starting lineup against Romania, a match the 'Oranje' won 2-0. In the quarter finals, van Basten faced fellow Dutchman Guus Hiddink's Russia. With the score at 1-1 after 90 minutes, Hiddink and Russia went on to win the match 3-1.

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. Van Basten started the season well, having spent millions on players such as Miralem Sulejmani, Ismaïl Aissati, Darío Cvitanich, Evander Sno, Eyong Enoh and Oleguer Presas Renom. However, in the second half of the season striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar left for Real Madrid, and Van Basten started switching around his lineups. When Ajax lost eleven points in four games, the Eredivisie title was out of sight. Ajax could, however, still get second place, which would have have ensured a place in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. But after two big losses against PSV (6-2) and Sparta Rotterdam (4-0) Van Basten's Ajax could only make it to number three. Van Basten decided to resign as Ajax manager at the end of the 2008-09 season.

Van Basten is now a pundit for Sport1, but is still planning to return as a manager.






  • UEFA European Championship: 1988
  • Nasazzi's Baton: 1985

Individual honours



Club Season League League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
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
Total 133 128 22 13 17 11 - - 172 152
1987–88 Milan Serie A 11 3 5 5 3 0 - - 19 8
1988–89 33 19 4 3 9 9 1 1 48 32
1989–90 26 19 4 1 9 4 1 0 40 24
1990–91 31 11 1 0 2 0 1 0 34 11
1991–92 31 25 7 4 - - - - 38 29
1992–93 15 13 1 0 5 6 1 1 22 20
1993–94 0 0 0 0 0 0 - - 0 0
1994–95 0 0 0 0 0 0 - - 0 0
Total 147 90 22 13 28 19 4 2 201 124
Career totals 280 218 44 26 45 30 4 2 373 276

*European competitions include the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Cup, and UEFA Super Cup



Netherlands national team
Year Apps Goals
1983 3 2
1984 3 0
1985 4 1
1986 4 2
1987 4 1
1988 9 5
1989 5 2
1990 11 8
1991 5 2
1992 10 1
Total 58 24


Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Netherlands July 2004 July 2008 &1000000000000005200000052 &1000000000000003500000035 &1000000000000001100000011 &100000000000000060000006 &1000000000000006731000067.31
Ajax July 2008 May 2009 &1000000000000003200000032 &1000000000000002000000020 &100000000000000040000004 &100000000000000080000008 &1000000000000006250000062.50
Total &1000000000000008400000084 &1000000000000005500000055 &1000000000000001500000015 &1000000000000001400000014 &1000000000000006548000065.48
As of 3 May 2009


  1. ^ "Biography for Marco van Basten". IMDb. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "van Basten, Marco". National Football Teams. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "The Best x Players of the Century/All-Time". RSSSF. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  4. ^ "Top Ten: Careers Cut Short". Sky Sportzine. Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  5. ^ Bandini, Paolo (14 December 2007). "How Capello won his nine league titles". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Winter, Henry (4 June 1994). "Football: Uefa Cup call for Newcastle: St James' Park delighted at return to Europe while Dubliners plan a huge send-off". The Independent (London). 
  8. ^ "SPORTS PEOPLE: SOCCER; AC Milan's Van Basten Retires". The New York Times. 18 August 1995. 
  9. ^ Lacey, David (22 June 1988). "Marco's late hook floors the favourites". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  10. ^ "Van Basten given Dutch reins". Guardian (London). 29 July 2004. Retrieved 17 September 2008. 
  11. ^ "Ruud makes his peace with Marco". yahoo sports. 
  12. ^ "Van Basten takes Ajax role". Sky Sports. 22 February 2008.,19528,11913_3183560,00.html. Retrieved 6 April 2010. 
  13. ^

External links

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