Who is Marco van Basten?
Dutch footballer Marco van Basten is one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game of football and during his rather short career, he lit up the world of football with outrageous goals and a consistency that is rarely found in many footballers. Van Basten was a striker who had all the attributes that one looks for in an attacker - from finishing to passing and dribbling that could drive the best defences in Europe into oblivion and he did so year after year for Ajax, AC Milan and the Dutch national team. Van Basten started off as a youth player at his local club UVV Utrecht but it was at AFC Ajax that he really set the world alight and subsequently he was bought by Italian giants AC Milan, whom he helped win plenty of trophies during his eight year stint at the club. He was the best player in the world during his peak years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His career was cut short due to a damaging knee injury and subsequently he became a football manager. Van Basten managed Ajax, Heerenveen and the Dutch National team during his years as a manager.
Childhood & Early Life
Marco van Basten was born on 31, October, 1964 in Utrecht, Netherlands to Joop van Basten and his wife Leny van Basten. His father Joop played football but only till semi-professional level.
He showed early promise as a footballer and when he was only six years old, he registered with a local club in Utrecht called EDO. At seven, he joined UVV Utrecht, the biggest club in the city and spent nine years at the youth levels of the club.
He was taken to Amsterdam by Dutch club AFC Ajax in 1981 and the following year in April, he made his debut for the club and announced himself on the big stage with a goal.
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In the season beginning 1982, Marco van Basten came into his own for AFC Ajax as he netted nine goals in the league and started competing for the place of the forward. In the subsequent four seasons, he ended up as the top scorer in the Dutch league and emerged as the premier striker in Europe.
In the season that ended in 1986, he returned a haul of 36 goals in the league for Ajax and his performance won him the European Golden Boot. He left the club the following year and in his 6 year stint at the club he scored 128 goals in 133 games. He also helped them win 3 league titles and a solitary UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup title.
He scored 5 goals and led his country to the European Championships title in 1988. In the World Cup in Germany, he could not score any goals but in the following European Championships four years later, he was part of the Dutch team which reached the semi finals. He scored 24 goals in 58 games for his country.
Van Basten moved to Italian club AC Milan in 1987 and at the end of the very first season won the league title even though he did not play much owing to an injury. In the following season, he scored 19 league goals as AC Milan ended up winning the league and the European Cup. The season after, he helped the club retain their European Cup crown.
He helped AC Milan go unbeaten an entire season in 1991-92 by scoring 25 goals as they captured the league title and in an injury plagued season the following year he played intermittently for the club. A knee problem brought his time at AC Milan to an end after eight fruitful years during which he scored 90 goals in 147 league appearances. He retired from professional football after that.
Following his retirement, he trained as a coach and served as the assistant manager of Ajax for a year. In 2004, he was appointed the manager of the Dutch national team and two years later at the World Cup in Germany, the team did not lose a game in the group stages but were narrowly knocked out by Portugal in the Round of 16. At the European Championships two years after the World Cup, the Netherlands started on the right note in the group stages as they won all games but were knocked out by Russia in the quarter finals.
In 2008, he returned to Ajax as the manager of the club but handed in his resignation a year as the club failed to reach the Champions League places. Three years later he became the manager of Heerenveen in 2012 and in his two seasons at the club he guided them to eight and fifth place finishes.
In 2014, he was made the manager of Dutch club AZ but stress induced problems led to frequent leaves and eventually he was appointed the assistant to the head coach. The following year he became the assistant coach of the Dutch national team.
Awards & Achievements
He won the Ballon D’Or in 1988 and won it the following year as well.
He won the FIFA World Player of the Year Award and the Ballon D’Or in 1992.
Brazilian legend Pele named Van Basten in the ‘FIFA 100’ in 2004, which was a list of the greatest living footballers.
His most important achievement was that of scoring 5 goals in the European Championships of 1988 which helped his team win the title. He was also the highest goal scorer in the tournament.
Personal Life & Legacy
Marco van Basten got married to Liesbeth van Cappelleveen in 1993. The couple has two daughters - Rebecca and Deborah and a son Alexander.