Franco Baresi at 60: When Milan were the kings of Europe
- The great Franco Baresi, who turned 60 on Friday, was Milan's captain when they reached five Champions League finals in seven seasons.
Former Italy and Milan centre-back Franco Baresi, widely regarded as one of the finest defenders of all time, celebrated his 60th birthday on Friday.
As well as being an imperious performer at the heart of one of the best backlines European football has ever seen alongside Mauro Tassotti, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini, Baresi was also a celebrated leader.
Of the six Serie A titles he won during a Milan career spanning three decades, five came as captain.
The Rossoneri's exploits on the European stage under Arrigo Sacchi and then Fabio Capello were also exceptional.
During a spell of seven years, Milan led by Baresi reached five finals in the European Cup and Champions League, winning three. Here we look back at how those showpieces unfolded.
1989 – MILAN 4-0 STEAUA BUCHAREST
Twenty years on from their second, Milan had a third European title courtesy of their Dutch masters at Camp Nou.
Close-range finishes from Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten established a 2-0 lead inside half an hour. A wonderful touch and strike from the edge of the box by Gullit made it 3-0 before the interval, and Van Basten latched on to a measured throughball from Frank Rijkaard to complete the rout shortly after half-time.
Barcellona 30 anni fa pic.twitter.com/DjDzm4qN2T— Franco Baresi (@FBaresi) May 24, 2019
1990 – MILAN 1-0 BENFICA
It was a case of roles reversed as Sacchi's men found the going tougher a year later in Vienna, with Van Basten's cute pass releasing Rijkaard to score the decisive goal in the 68th minute.
Baresi and his defensive colleagues saw out the win with another clean sheet, with Milan the last team to manage back-to-back triumphs in the Europe's top competition until Real Madrid embarked on their run of three in a row between 2016 and 2018.
1993 – MARSEILLE 1-0 MILAN
In a far less memorable final moment for Rijkaard, Basil Boli rose above him to glance in a 43rd-minute corner at Munich's Olympiastadion.
Milan, now under Capello, won Serie A that season only losing twice, having gone a top-flight season unbeaten in 1991-92. But they were unable to find a response in the final of the newly rebranded Champions League.
1994 – MILAN 4-0 BARCELONA
Without the suspended Baresi and Costacurta, while also having to omit Florin Raducioiu, Jean-Pierre Papin and Brian Laudrup due to the three non-nations rule in UEFA competitions at that time, few gave Milan a chance against Johan Cruyff's star-studded Barcelona. Van Basten and record signing Gigi Lentini were also nursing serious injuries.
However, Daniele Massaro snaffled a first-half brace before the mercurial Dejan Savicevic and Marcel Desailly scored magnificent goals to complete a thrashing that marked the end of the road for Barca's fabled Dream Team.
1995 – AJAX 1-0 MILAN
As the previous year's final showed, all dynasties must come to an end at some point. And in Baresi's last Champions League final, Louis van Gaal's vibrant young Ajax side pinched glory.
Teenager Patrick Kluivert came off the bench to net the winner five minutes from time, giving Rijkaard – an experienced head among the young stars – glory at the expense of his former employers.