Il Capitano: The Notable Leaders of AC Milan  

Throughout their existence, Associazione Calcio Milan have been adorned with great players, with some having the honor of leading I Rossoneri out to the San Siro pitch on matchdays. Wearing the armband is not just a privilege for a player, but it also bears them the responsibility of being a role model to all football fans. 

Before right back Davide Calabria’s impending appointment as the 45th captain in club history, we recall his predecessors who had worn the armband proudly. These are two (or three) of AC Milan’s notable captains​. 

Franco Baresi 

He was, arguably, the greatest Rossoneri of all time. His style of defense became not just his trademark, but his club’s identity during his time there as well. 

The central defender and sweeper played wore Il Diavolo’s his entire career, both in seniors and youth levels. Curiously, his brother Giuseppe played for rival Internazionale, both captaining their respective sides. 

Baresi was the captain for 15 of his 20 years in Milan. During his entire stay with the senior crew, he won three UEFA Champions League titles, six Serie A championships, four Supercoppa Italiana trophies, and two European Super Cups (now known as the UEFA Super Cup). 

With the Italian national team, he won the FIFA World Cup in 1982, finished third in 1990, and was the skipper in the runner up squad that lost to Brazil in 1994. He also got called up at the UEFA Euro in 1980 and 1988, as well as the Summer Olympics in 1984. 

Some of his individual accolades include being named into the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 1990, voted as AC Milan’s Player of the Century, included in the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at the FIFA centenary awards ceremony in 2004, and is ranked 19th in World Soccer magazine’s list of the 100 greatest players of the 20th century. Baresi’s shirt number 6 was retired by his club after his final season, and he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2013. 

Paolo Maldini 

Paolo and his father Cesare wore the band for Milan during their respective stints with the club. Between them, it is the son who had more accolades. 

The younger Maldini was the captain of AC Milan and the Italy football contingent for many years. He holds the record for most games played with the team and once had the most matches played at the Italian Serie A and most appearances in UEFA club competitions. 

Like Baresi, Maldini stayed loyal with his local troop, suiting up with the senior team for 25 seasons. Both overlapped in their international duties, as they were together in the 1990 and 1994 editions of the FIFA World Cup. 

Paolo’s trophy collection is impressive: UEFA Champions League (five), Serie A (seven), Coppa Italia (one), Supercoppa Italiana (five), UEFA Super Cups (five), FIFA Club World Cup (one). 

Aside from that, he took the Best Defender trophy at the UEFA Club Football Awards two years before he retired and won the Serie A Defender of the Year Award in 2004. In addition, he finished in the top three of FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or voting a combined three times, was included in the FIFA World Cup Dream Team in 2002 and Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020, as well as named in Pelé’s list of 100 greatest living players in 2004. 

The number 3 was retired by his club in his honor, and he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2012. 

There are other notable AC Milan captains, like Gianni River and Herbert Kilpin. We can feature next them next time. 

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