Marco van Basten was born on the 31 October 1964 in the Dutch city of Utrecht, where he started his football career at the age of seven. Marco's first club was a local team, UVV. After spending there ten years, he then moved to an other club from Utrecht, Elinkwijk. However, his professional career began in 1981, when seventeen-year-old Marco was spotted by Ajax's scouts. Being aware of great prospects lying ahead, Van Basten agreed to join the famous football club from Amsterdam. Marco's great potential was immediately recognised by Ajax coaches and physiologists. As for a great striker, in his debut (April 3, 1982) Van Basten scored a goal. What's more, in that match he substituted the famous Dutch footballer - Cruyff.
During the next season Marco placed the ball in the net nine times. However, the most important event in 1983 was his debut in the Dutch national team, on the 7th of September, in a match against Iceland. Van Basten scored his first goal for Oranjes only two weeks later, in a very prestigious match against the immemorial opponents, Belgium.
Marco was unrivalled in the Dutch Eredivisie, unstoppable to the defenders and lethal to the goalies. Being four times the top scorer in domestic league, Van Basten also won the Golden Boot Award in 1986 with 37 goals in only 26 matches! During his rip-roaring stay in Ajax Marco scored 151 goals, appearing in 172 games and that outstanding performance was sealed with the victory in the Cup Winner's Cup. As befits for a champion, he found the way to the net in the final itself as well.
Leaving Ajax Amsterdam was now just a question of time. There were plenty of great clubs lining up to sign a deal with Van Basten, including FC Barcelona but Marco decided to move to AC Milan, which was being rebuilt by Italian mogul, Silvio Berlusconi. The transfer was a dream-deal for Via Turati club which paid only 800 000 dollars (approx. 1.8 bln. lire) for the 22-year-old Oranje megastar. In the end, two other Dutch superstars, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard also became Rossoneri. At that time nobody could expect the trio would rule the European football for the next five years.
Although The Flying Dutchman scored a goal in his debut against Pisa (13.09.1987), the first season was far from a dream-one. Marco appeard in only 11 matches, scored just 3 goals and spent most of the season recovering from an ankle injury. The same injury turned out to be lethal to his career a few years later. The club, however, succeded winning for the first time since 1979 the Italian Championship. The Rossoneri also suceeded in the Italian Super Cup.
However, the best was still to come. Having skipped most of the season matches, Van Basten was only a substitute in Holland's squad for the Euro 1988 held in West Germany. In the first match Oranje team played a rather poor football which resulted in a defeat to USSR team. Dutch coach, Rinus Michels decided to shift Marco to the starting eleven for the next group match against the English and with this decision he hit the bull's eye! The Swan of Utrecht played one of the best matches in his career, scoring a hattrick and sending England back home. And that was just the beginning of the one-man show! In the semi-final match against the host Germans Marco scored an incredible goal, literally sliding the ball into the net. That was the 88th minute of the match and thanks to that strike Holland made it through to the final of the Euro where they met USSR again. Contrary to the group match, this time Oranjes showed great football and surpassed their opponents. The duel ended with the 2:0 result and one of the most outstanding goals in the history of football. In 54th minute of the game Marco struck a looping volley at an incredible angle and beat the Russian goalie.The strike is still considered the most beautiful goal ever scored in the final of any football competition! With 5 goals on his account, Van Basten became not only the top scorer of the Euro '88, but was also named the best player of the competition.
Van Basten returned to Milan as an even greater star that he had been before the European Championship. In the autumn of 1988 he won the two most prestigious awards, France Football's Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) and World Soccer's World Player of the Year title. What is more, he ended the 1988/89 season with 32 altogether and the three most importent titles in the club football - Eurpean Champion's Cup (scoring the double in the final match against Steaua Bucharest), European Supercup and Intercontinental Cup. Furthermore, Marco Goalo once again was awarded the European Footballer of the Year by France Football (1989).
In the season that followed, Marco repeated the number of 19 goals scored in the Serie A, however, this time it was enough to become the top marksman of the competition. What is more, the Flying Dutchman once again was successfull in the European and International club competitions. Unfortunately, the national team career turned out to be completely the opposite. The Dutch were named one of the favourites in the World Cup race. The reality, however, was completely different. Oranjes did not win a single match and were knocked out of the tournament after the infamous match against the Germans, lost 1:2.
Milan were on their track to win the third conseuctive European Champions title in 1991. Unexpectedly, the team decided not to continue the semi-final game against Olympique Marseille after a floodlights failure. UEFA banned the Italian team from the European competitions for a year. Marco ended the season with only 11 goals and no trophy on his account.
After winter must come spring and after a poor season came a supreme 1991/92 one for San Marco. His hunger for winning and scoring resulted in the second Capocannoniere title, this time with 25 golas in only 31 matches! AC Milan once again won the Italian Serie A and were again ready to conquer the world of football. Marco wanted to seal that great time of his career with the Dutch national team during the 1992 European Championship. In the end, Holland reached the semi-final in which they lost to Denmark after the shootout competition. Marco, one of the best penalty takers of the team, missed from the spot and Oranjes were forced to watch the final from the stand. The saddest thing is the fact that it was the last international tournament for the great footballer.
Van Basten started the next season with an impressive 4-goal matches against Napoli in Serie A and IFK Goeteborg (including an incredible bicycle kick) in the competetion that was from then on named Champions League. Moreover, at the end of 1992 Marco was granted the Golden Ball award for the third time in his career and was also named the World Player of the Year by both, FIFA and World Soccer magazine! Scoring 12 goals in only three months meant another great season, full of trophies and individual achievements. It all ended suddenly and unexpectedly...
The ankle injury that was his nightmare a few years ago reappered, only this time it was to beat Marco and end his wonderful career. Being operated for the fourth time in 1993 Van Basten had the feeling it was the farewell that time. Although he appeared in the Champions League final against Olympique Marseille he did not resemble the great footballer he used to be. Milan was defeated 1:0 but what is worse lost one of the greatest players of the world. Marco tried fighting the injury another two years but eventually was forced to end his career on 18 August 1995, during a Trofeo Berlusconi match. Over 70 000 supporters, including crying Capello, gave him a standing ovation while Van Basten was doing his lap of honour.
to be continued...