Marco van Basten
Full name: Marcel van Basten
Date of birth: 31/10/1964
Marco Marcel Van Basten was a Dutch striker who found fame at various international clubs and is commonly recognised as one of the greatest goal scorers ever. He was born on the 31st October 1964 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He began his career playing for a local team at the age of seven. After one year he moved to the larger club, UVV Utrecht, where he stayed for almost a decade.
At seventeen his professional career commenced, as Ajax (one of the most prolific national sides in the Netherlands) signed him following a brief spell with another local team. His success was immediate and he soon started gaining caps and scoring goals for the national team. He enjoyed stints at several other international clubs before his career was cut short due to injury. Marco van Basten now manages the Dutch national team, although there have been reports that he may be in line to take over the managerial position at Chelsea. He has recently led the Dutch team to successful qualification for the 2008 European Championships, with one game to spare.
Van Basten made his professional debut on the 3rd of April 1982, scoring for Ajax against NEC Nijmegen, having replaced Cruyff as a substitute. He scored nine more goals in his first season, despite playing only 20 games due to stiff competition for starting positions. An out-going transfer made way for Van Basten to play more often, though, and over the following four seasons he scored 117 goals in 112 matches. The highlight of this run was the 1985/86 season when he was awarded the European Golden Boot Award. He scored an impressive 151 goals in 172 games for Ajax and helped them to victory in the Cup Winners Cup.
In 1987 he was transferred to AC Milan, where he was awarded European Footballer of the Year in the 1988/89 season. His first season with Milan was not as sucessful as his time at Ajax. He only played 9 games owing to the ankle injury which would return to end his career. The 1990/91 season also saw poor performances from the Dutch national team in the World Cup and Milan were banned from European Competitions for one year, after refusing to play the semi-final of the 1991 cup due to floodlight problems.
1992 saw a return to form for both Marco and Milan, with the former being awarded the Capocannoniere title (for scoring 31 goals in 25 matches) for the second time and Milan winning the Italian league. This success was sadly not reflected in his national team performances, as his missed penalty sent his side crashing out of the European Championship semi-final. However, this did not deter van Basten, who scored with such regularity and style during the tournament which would later be known as the Champions League, that he was awarded the Golden Ball Award for the third time and was named Player of the Year by FIFA.
Sadly, Marco’s injury returned and after a fourth operation in 1993, he played his final league game for AC Milan. It was clear that he was no longer the same player he had been before the injury and Milan lost the Champions League final to Marseille 1-0. He struggled on until he was forced to retire on the 18th of August 1995.
Upon leaving Milan, van Basten stated that he was not interested in a managerial career. However, he accepted an assistant role for Ajax’s second team in 2003. A year later, he was named as the manager of the national Dutch team. Marco adopted a fierce stance as manager, dropping several famous players who seemed past their best. He also showed a keenness to look for players from beyond the top three national teams, also making public his appeal to expedite Salomon Kalou’s citizenship application in 2005. However, Kalou eventually took up a position in the Ivory Coast team. Marco works alongside the famous De Toekomst Academy to scout players for the national side and hopes to find his successor in the form of another world-class striker.
His time as manager has not been without criticism, in particular when he chose to drop Ruud van Nistelrooy (who had scored 28 goals for the Netherlands) in the 2006 World Cup. Van Nistelrooy subsequently vowed never to play again for the Dutch team whilst van Basten was at the reigns. This dispute was apparently resolved in May 2007 but bad relationships continue with many of the players who were dropped when the manager first arrived.
- FIFA 100 (List of the greatest living footballers picked by Pele): 2004
- European Cup Silver Top Scorer: 1993
- FIFA World Player of the Year: 1992
- Serie A Top Scorer: 1990, 1992
- World Soccer Player of the Year: 1988, 1992
- UEFA Best Player of the Year: 1989, 1990, 1992
- IFFHS Best Player of the Year: 1988, 1989, 1990
- Serie A Silver Top Scorer: 1989
- Onze d’Or: 1988, 1989
- Onze d’Argent: 1987, 1992
- European Cup Top Scorer: 1989
- UEFA European Championship 1988 Top Scorer and Best Player: 1988
- European Footballer of the Year: 1988, 1989, 1992
- Bravo Award: 1987
- European Golden Boot: 1986
- Dutch Footballer of the Year: 1985
- European Silver Boot: 1984
- Dutch League Top Scorer: 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987
Standing at 188cm and weighing 80 kg, van Basten was a physically challenging player for defenders to play against and this led to him receiving some heavy challenges. One such challenge led to the injury which ended his career. He was incredibly agile, often likened to a ballerina, with excellent close-control of the ball. This, paired with his ability to strike the ball with either foot, made him an excellent striker. He scored some of the most spectacular goals in football history, including amazing headers and bicycle kicks.
Van Basten was never involved in any media scandal and remains married to Eliesbeth Van Cappelleveen, with whom he has two daughters, Rebecca and Angelica, and a son, Alexander.