Weah v Van Basten. They seem like distant days now, but at one point there simply wasn’t a bigger, hungrier, more powerful side on earth than A.C. Milan. When they lost to a side in a European Cup Final, well, they bought the team (remember Ajax in 1995). And aside from the plethora of stunning defenders the team was blessed with – which we’ll discuss at a later date, there are few teams on earth that can boast the same selection of forwards.
Nordahl, Shevchenko, Inzaghi, Ronaldo, Kluivert, Rivera, Papin, Bierhoff, Baggio, Vieri, but two stand out as especially stunning Milan forwards at their very best. Marco Van Basten and George Weah. Both stunning strikers. Almost unstoppable in fact. But who was better? Weah v Van Basten.
Weah V Van Basten: George Weah was better.
We’ll just start by leaving this here.
The 1995 world player of the year and 1996 African player of the century. George Weah scored the above goal on a Sunday afternoon against Verona for A.C. Milan. What’s perhaps most impressive about it is that it doesn’t even seem all that out of character for the man. FIFA called him:
The precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today.
George Weah: stats
It was Arsene Wenger that brought him to Europe from Monrovia in Liberia, signing him for Monaco when he was 22, where he scored 66 goals in 4 seasons and winning the French Cup and the African player of the year, The side also made the final of the European Cup Winner’s Cup thanks to Weah’s 4 goals in 9 appearance. Moving to PSG, he won the league title in 1994 and was top scorer in the Champions League in 1995-95.
Weah was a real surprise. I have never seen any player explode on to the scene like he did. – Arsene Wenger
Following that, he made the move to A.C. Milan. This was a phenomenal squad at the time for Milan. Panucci, Maldini, Albertini, Baresi, Desailly, Savicevic, Donadoni, Di Canio, Baggio, Vieria, Costacurta, Simone, Ambrosini, Boban, Tasotti. So many legends and all managed by Fabio Capello. Weah won the league title right away, scoring 15 goals in his first season in Serie A. 16 followed in his second, then 13.
Baring in mind how tough a place in which the Italian league was to score, playing alongside Baggio and Savicevic, both past their best really. It wasn’t a time of European dominance for Milan but domestically they’d win the league again in 1999.
Award after award
While at Milan, Weah won a slew of awards. He became the first African to win World Player of the Year. He won the Ballon d’Or. African Player of the year awards came almost inevitably and was voted African player of the Century alongside Pele as South American Player and Cruyff as European player.
He’d move to England afterwards, with Chelsea and Manchester City, and continue top score goals. But it was really with Milan that Weah developed into the world class forward we all remember. Interestingly, he credits Arsene Wenger, rather than Fabio Capello, with moulding him into that.
Played 478 games. Scored 193 goals
A.C. Milan: 58 goals in 4 seasons
Weah V Van Basten: Marco Van basten was better.
Maybe it’s because he quit at the top, but there are very few memories of Marco Van Basten doing anything but scoring extraordinary goals. Had it not been for that fateful injury at 28, who know what other records the Dutchman might have achieved. Maybe a few more goals like this:
Van Basten ranked 6th in the Player of the Century poll, 10th in the European Player of the century (for some reason) and 25th in the 100 greatest Dutch people in 2004. So, here’s why.
Playing for Ajax, he scored 118 goals in 112 matches from 1983 to 1987. In the 1986 – 87 season he scored 37 goals in 26 games. He won the European golden boot that year. Overall for Ajax, by the time he left, he’d scored 128 goals in 133 league games.
Marco Van Basten: An insanely good record.
He joined A.C. Milan in 1987 with Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard following him in 1988. Milan right away won the league. Van Basten scored 19 goals in his first seasonm winning the European Ballon d’Or. He scored 2 goals in the European Cup final victory of that season. in 1989-90, Van Basten finished as Serie A’s top goalscorer and Milan defended their European Cup trophy.
In the 91-92 season, Van Basten scored 25, under Fabio Capello and the team regained the title they lost to Sampdoria under Arrigo Sacchi. The same season he was the first player to score 4 goals in a Champions League match and later won the World Player of the Year trophy.
“Marco was the greatest striker I ever coached. His early retirement was a mortal misfortune for him, for football, and for Milan.”
A premature end
It was an almost ridiculously good Milan team. They went unbeaten for 58 games, over 2 seasons. In 1993, Van Basten won the European Player of the year a third time, joining Platini and Cruyff as the only other then three time winners. A persistent ankle injury meant Van Basten missed a whole season for Milan, including the European Cup Final where they reclaimed the trophy. He was told by doctors not to take part in the USA 94 World Cup and retired in 1995.
Van Basten was a one off. Both footed and excellent in the air and with his head. High accuracy rates at both free kicks and penalties. But also a keen sense for reading the game and providing assists to others.
Marco Van Basten:
Played 373 games. Scored 277 goals
A.C. Milan: 125 goals in 6 seasons
Weah v Van Basten. Who was better? Vote and comment below and share with your fellow fans to get their opinion!
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