Marcel "Marco" van Basten (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈmɑrkoː vɑn ˈbɑstə(n)]; born 31 October 1964) is a Dutch football manager and former football player, who played for Ajax and Milan, as well as the Netherlands national team, in the 1980s and early '90s as a forward. He is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and has scored 300 goals in a high-profile career, but played his last game in 1993 at the age of 28 due to an injury that forced his retirement two years later. He was later the head coach of Ajax and the Netherlands national team.
Playing for the Netherlands, Van Basten won, and was named player of the tournament, at UEFA Euro 1988, scoring five goals that included a memorable volley in the final against the Soviet Union. At the club level, he won three Eredivisie titles and the Cup Winners' Cup with Ajax, and three Serie A titles and two European Cups with Milan.
Known for his close ball control, attacking intelligence and spectacular strikes and volleys, Van Basten was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992 and won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1988, 1989 and 1992. In 1999, he was ranked sixth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll, tenth in the European player of the Century election held by the IFFHS and 12th in the IFFHS' World Player of the Century election. He was also voted eighth in a poll organised by the French magazine France Football, consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. In 2004, a poll for the 100 greatest Dutch people was held in the Netherlands: Van Basten ranked number 25, the second highest for a football player, behind Johan Cruyff. In 2007, Sky Sports ranked Van Basten first on its list of great athletes who had their careers cut short.
Marco van Basten was born on 31 October 1964 in Utrecht. He began playing for a local team, EDO, when he was six years old. A year later, he moved to UVV Utrecht. After nine years there, he briefly played for another club from Utrecht, Elinkwijk.
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 118 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. He had scored 128 goals in 133 league games for Ajax. On November 1986 he scored his most famous goal in an Ajax jersey, a spectacular overhead kick against FC Den Bosch.
In 1987, Silvio Berlusconi signed Van Basten for 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 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, against IFK Göteborg, including a picture perfect bicycle kick. In December 1992, Van Basten was named FIFA World Player of the Year.
Milan stretched their unbeaten run into the 1992–93 season, going 58 matches over two seasons before they lost a game. Van Basten was exceptional 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 recurred in a game against Ancona, forcing him to undergo another series of surgery. He returned for the last few games in the season, before Milan lost to Marseille in the Champions League final. The match was Van Basten's final game for the Italian club.
Van Basten 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), but his club ordered him not to take part in the World Cup amid fear of ruining his rehabilitation. 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.
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 for the Netherlands national team that same year. At UEFA Euro 1988, Van Basten played a pivotal role in the victorious Dutch team. He 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. He finished top scorer and was named player of the tournament. In 2002 the UK public voted Van Basten's volley against the Soviet Union #21 in the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.
The Dutch national team exited the 1990 World Cup early, 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 where they lost to the eventual champions Denmark in a penalty shootout, with Peter Schmeichel saving a penalty shot from Van Basten. Van Basten was named in the team of the tournament for his performances.
Van Basten 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. He took part in Tyskie's (a Polish beer company) advertising campaign with Luís Figo and Zbigniew Boniek.
Style of play
Regarded as one of the greatest strikers of all time, Van Basten was renowned for his clinical finishing, with a penchant for scoring acrobatic goals. His height and strength allowed him to excel in the air, and his technical ability and agility saw him execute spectacular strikes, such as volleys and bicycle kicks, throughout his career. A fast and opportunistic striker with quick reactions, he often took advantage of loose balls in the penalty area. Possessing a powerful and accurate shot, he was capable of scoring goals with both feet from inside or outside the penalty area, as well as with his head; he was also an accurate penalty kick and free-kick taker.
In addition to his goalscoring ability, Van Basten possessed excellent vision and distribution, which enabled him to play in deeper positions and provide assists to his teammates, the most notable of which was his assist to Frank Rijkaard for Milan's winning goal in the 1990 European Cup final. Despite his large stature, Van Basten possessed excellent technical skills and ball control, as well as good balance and a notable elegance on the ball, which inspired his nickname: "The Swan of Utrecht." Van Basten's career was severely affected by many grave injuries, which forced him to retire from football prematurely at the age of 28.
Van Basten features in EA Sports' FIFA video game series, and was named in the Ultimate Team Legends in FIFA 14.
Van Basten officially left 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 Ajax in 2003–04.
On 29 July 2004, Van Basten was named the new manager of the Netherlands national team, with Van 't Schip as his assistant. Van Basten appointment of being manager of the Netherlands sparked a little controversy at the time, since Van Basten only just started his manager career and the media argued that he did not have a lot experience yet. Van Basten himself had his doubts when the KNVB asked him to be the new manager, though he admitted that it "is hard to pass up the opportunity."
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 (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. AZ, at the time a local small football club for Dutch standards, proved to be successful in the Dutch league and in the UEFA Cup. Other unheralded choices were Khalid Boulahrouz, Hedwiges Maduro, Ryan Babel and Romeo Castelen. 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 Dutch Minister of Integration Rita Verdonk. Kalou eventually accepted a call-up to play for Ivory Coast.
Under his guidance, the team were unbeaten in their World Cup qualification group and made it through the group stages at the 2006 World Cup, 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 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 Ruud van Nistelrooy, who had previously declared never to play for a Dutch national squad with Van Basten as its manager. 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 World Cup in South Africa. On 22 February 2008, Van Basten signed a four-year contract with Ajax, starting from 1 July. His last tournament thus was the UEFA Euro 2008, where the Netherlands surprised with a strong first round 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. He finished his reign with a record of 35 wins, 11 draws and six losses in 52 matches.
Return to Ajax
Van Basten became manager of Ajax after Euro 2008 but resigned on 6 May 2009 after his team failed to qualify for the 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. 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 11 points in four games, the Eredivisie title was out of sight. Ajax could, however, still get second place, which would have ensured a place in the third qualifying round of the 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 in the league table. Van Basten decided to resign as Ajax manager at the end of the 2008–09 season. After this, Van Basten became a pundit for Sport1, but was still planning to return as a manager. He finished his reign with a record of 26 wins, 8 draws and 11 losses in 45 matches.
On 13 February 2012, it was announced that Van Basten would become the manager of Eredivisie club Heerenveen in the 2012–13 season. Van Basten led Heerenveen to an eighth-place finish in the 2012–13 year campaign. He then lead them to a fifth-place finish the following season, the 2013–14 campaign. He finished his reign with a record of 27 wins, 18 draws and 27 losses in 72 matches.
AZ announced on 18 April 2014 that Van Basten would replace Dick Advocaat at the start of the 2014–15 season. On 28 August 2014, Van Basten took a leave of absence for the following game against FC Dordrecht, with multiple Dutch news reporting he was suffering of stress-related heart palpitations, and was replaced by assistant coaches Alex Pastoor and Dennis Haar. Later, on 3 September, AZ confirmed Van Basten was given an extended leave of absence until 14 September. On 16 September 2014, parties agreed Van Basten would relinquish his role as manager in order to sign a new contract as assistant coach until 2016; this was motivated by Van Basten himself, who stated the stress caused by his full-time role as head coach was causing him physical and mental issues. He finished his reign with two wins and three losses in five matches.
Return to the Netherlands
After a year at AZ, Van Basten decided to take up the vacant post of assistant coach under the new head coach of the Netherlands national team, Danny Blind. Van Basten would work together with fellow assistant coach Ruud van Nistelrooy, whom Van Basten sent away when he was a head coach of the Netherlands. In August 2016, Van Basten announced he would be leaving the role to take up a position at FIFA.
|Italy||Serie A||Coppa Italia||Europe||Other||Total|
|Netherlands national team|
- As of 16 September 2014.
|Netherlands||29 July 2004||30 June 2008||52||35||11||6||67.31|
|Ajax||1 July 2008||6 May 2009||45||26||8||11||57.78|
|Heerenveen||1 July 2012||30 June 2014||72||27||18||27||37.50|
|AZ||1 July 2014||16 September 2014||5||2||0||3||40.00|
- Matches as manager
Win Draw Loss
|Date||Location||Competition||Home team||Away team||Score|
|18 August 2004||Stockholm||International friendly||Sweden||The Netherlands||2–2|
|3 September 2004||Utrecht||International friendly||The Netherlands||Liechtenstein||3–0|
|8 September 2004||Amsterdam||2006 World Cup Qualification||The Netherlands||Czech Republic||2–0|
|9 October 2004||Skopje||2006 World Cup Qualification||FYR Macedonia||The Netherlands||2–2|
|13 October 2004||Amsterdam||2006 World Cup Qualification||The Netherlands||Finland||3–1|
|17 November 2004||Barcelona||2006 World Cup Qualification||Andorra||The Netherlands||0–3|
|9 February 2005||Birmingham||International friendly||England||The Netherlands||0–0|
|26 March 2005||Bucharest||2006 World Cup Qualification||Romania||The Netherlands||0–2|
|30 March 2005||Eindhoven||2006 World Cup Qualification||The Netherlands||Armenia||2–0|
|4 June 2005||Rotterdam||2006 World Cup Qualification||The Netherlands||Romania||2–0|
|8 June 2005||Helsinki||2006 World Cup Qualification||Finland||The Netherlands||0–4|
|17 August 2005||Rotterdam||International friendly||The Netherlands||Germany||2–2|
|3 September 2005||Yerevan||2006 World Cup Qualification||Armenia||The Netherlands||0–1|
|7 September 2005||Eindhoven||2006 World Cup Qualification||The Netherlands||Andorra||4–0|
|8 October 2005||Prague||2006 World Cup Qualification||Czech Republic||The Netherlands||0–2|
|12 October 2005||Amsterdam||2006 World Cup Qualification||The Netherlands||FYR Macedonia||0–0|
|12 November 2005||Amsterdam||International friendly||The Netherlands||Italy||1–3|
|1 March 2006||Amsterdam||International friendly||The Netherlands||Ecuador||1–0|
|27 May 2006||Rotterdam||International friendly||The Netherlands||Cameroon||1–0|
|1 June 2006||Eindhoven||International friendly||The Netherlands||Mexico||2–1|
|4 June 2006||Rotterdam||International friendly||The Netherlands||Australia||1–1|
|11 June 2006||Leipzig||2006 World Cup Group stage||Serbia and Montenegro||The Netherlands||0–1|
|16 June 2006||Stuttgard||2006 World Cup Group stage||The Netherlands||Ivory Coast||2–1|
|21 June 2006||Frankfurt||2006 World Cup Group stage||The Netherlands||Argentina||0–0|
|25 June 2006||Nuremberg||2006 World Cup Round of 16||Portugal||The Netherlands||1–0|
|16 August 2006||Dublin||International friendly||Ireland||The Netherlands||0–4|
|2 September 2006||Luxembourg||Euro 2008 Qualification||Luxembourg||The Netherlands||0–1|
|6 September 2006||Eindhoven||Euro 2008 Qualification||The Netherlands||Belarus||3–0|
|7 October 2006||Sofia||Euro 2008 Qualification||Bulgaria||The Netherlands||1–1|
|11 October 2006||Amsterdam||Euro 2008 Qualification||The Netherlands||Albania||2–1|
|15 November 2006||Amsterdam||International friendly||The Netherlands||England||1–1|
|7 February 2007||Amsterdam||International friendly||The Netherlands||Russia||4–1|
|24 March 2007||Rotterdam||Euro 2008 Qualification||The Netherlands||Romania||4–1|