Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Silvio Berlusconi had something to take his mind off all his other play things on Sunday, when he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his marriage to his one true love - AC Milan.
It was back on February 20th 1986 that he took over a then beleaguered club he had supported as a boy - and from there the good times rolled.
The Rossoneri threw off the shackles of catenaccio to play a pressure game which pinned the opposition back in their own half – and in doing so Milan would break out of the staid domestic game to conquer the world.
During Berlusconi’s time in charge, Milan have won five Champions League titles, seven Italian championships and three World Club Cups, so it was perhaps understandable that he felt it was his given-right to scribble his autograph on a specially commissioned commemorative shirt to honour the occasion when his team met Chievo at the weekend.
He also expected his league leaders to take all three points from their trip to Verona, even if the home side had not lost there since late September. They duly obliged, although not without a fair share of controversy - Robinho controlled Antonio Cassano’s cross with his arm before scoring the opener.
The other talking point was Alexandre Pato’s rapid transformation from puny youth to P90X work-out master. It looked as if he had been spending more time in the gym than out on the training pitch when he ripped off his shirt after scoring the winner to reveal his pecs and abs.
When viewed alongside his bum-fluffed boyface, the look was actually quite disturbing, but then one must be thankful that the annoying heart-shaped finger-gesture to the crowd is no longer part of his repertoire.
The victory, doubtless inspired by dear old Silvio, got us wondering how many of the current Milan side would make the Berlusconi Era All-Star XI? So here it is…
Sebastiano Rossi Holds the record of 11 consecutive Serie A clean sheets and was the man between the posts in the Invincibles' 58-game unbeaten streak between May 1991 and March 1993.
Mauro Tassotti Hard as nails with a velvet touch. Only Cafu comes close in terrorising opposition wingers and left-backs in equal measure.
Franco Baresi The blueprint for the modern defender and captain of the Immortals and Invincibles of the late 80s and early 90s. Made 719 appearances, won it all and the club retired his No.6 shirt as a mark of his legendary status. Grown men still weep at the mention of his name, not all of them strikers he once haunted.
Alessandro Nesta Graceful, elegant on the ball and never hurried into making a tackle thanks to his excellent positional scene, but with the steely resolve in the best traditions of Italian defenders.
Paolo Maldini Too cool, too sporting and too damn good-looking to be anything other than the greatest left-back of all time: Followed in dad Cesare’s footsteps from boy-wonder to hoisting the Champions League trophy - and of course they retired his No.3 shirt after a record 902 matches for the club.
Roberto Donadoni Tricky dribbler and finisher who combined skill with work-rate first under Arrigo Sacchi and then for Fabio Capello’s Invincibles.
Andrea Pirlo Inspiration behind Milan’s most recent success in the Champions League under Carlo Ancelotti, and a player who considers giving the ball away a crime.
Frank Rijkaard Always in the right place at the right time, as he demonstrated with his winner in the European Cup final against Benfica in 1990 and then repeated the feat in the subsequent Intercontinental Cup against Olympica of Asuncion.
Ruud Gullit Equally at home as sweeper or in attack, the Dutch star had the physical presence combined with the silky skills to unlock any defence: The dreadlocked Dionysus of Arrigo Sacchi Immortals.
Marco Van Basten The most complete striker of the modern era who scored spectacular goals coming at an astonishing average of one every one and a half games. Three-time Ballon’Or winner whose glittering career was cut short by injury at 30.
Andriy Shevchenko Fast and direct, the Ukrainian finished his first season in Italy as Serie A top goalscorer on 24 goals and took on legendary status after scoring the decisive penalty in the 2003 Champions League Final shoot-out against Juventus
Fabio Capello Learnt from the master Arrigo Sacchi and then turned the Immortals into the Invincibles, winning three consecutive Serie A titles between 1992 and 1994 as well as demolishing Johann Cruyff’s Barcelona 4-0 in the 1994 Champions Cup final.
Substitutes Nelson Dida, Marcos Cafu, Alessandro Costacurta, Ricky Kaka, Dejan Savicevic, Filippo Inzaghi.
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