Why AC Milan remains the greatest club side ever

What defines a great club?

Prateek Vasisht
Published in
9 min readJan 5, 2019


The name AC Milan stirs up feelings of nostalgia and aura for those who watched them in their heyday. What is it about AC Milan that fans still remember them fondly despite their wretched form and troubles of late?

What makes a club great? What makes a club the greatest ever? I investigate.

AC Milan’s Curva Sud — at the San Siro


To uncover the brilliance of one of the greatest club sides ever, let us turn the clock back to 1988. AC Milan had won their first scudetto in nine years. A mere two years ago, they had been rescued from bankruptcy by Silvio Berlusconi, who had audaciously purchased the Dutch duo of van Basten and Gullit in 1987, with Rijkaard arriving in 1988. He’d also put at the helm Arrigo Sacchi, a coach with no top-level playing or coaching history.

The next year, powered by their now European Champion Dutch trio, they would win their first European Cup in 20 years and defend their title in 1990. It would take another 27 years for a team (Real Madrid in 2017) to successfully defend their European Cup/Champions League title.

A World Soccer Poll voted AC Milan as the greatest club side of all time, the only club side to make that ranking, alongside legendary World Cup sides (Brazil 1970, Hungary 1954 and the Dutch side of 1974). To be spoken of in the same breath as Pele’s Selecao, the Magical Magyars and Cruyff’s Total Football side, is a deserved honour.

What makes a team great

If we look at the definition of Great we get two related aspects:

- remarkable in magnitude, degree, or effectiveness

- markedly superior in character or quality

Greatness can mean many things. It’s complex. For this reason, we need a definition that exists in more than one dimension.

Remarkable Dominance

AC Milan sides of the late 80s and early 90s defined greatness in an era sprinkled liberally with legends of the game — Maradona, Careca, Matthaus, Klinsmann, Voeller, Baggio, Vialli, Romario, Koeman, Stoichkov, Hagi, Guardiola, Bergomi, Zenga —…



Prateek Vasisht

Business Design • Lean • Football • www.prateek.co.nz

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