Quotes on: Franco Baresi

“At 18, he already had the knowledge of a veteran.” — Nils Liedholm

“Franco was the best player I have ever played with. The guy was world class to his core. He had everything – pace, two feet, and he was a leader of men. I remember the first time I trained with him at Milan, I couldn’t believe my eyes; I thought, “Christ, he is unbelievable.” He was a joy to play with.” — Ray Wilkins

“Franco Baresi was one of the all-time great defenders: he read everything, made everything look so easy and at the same time he was brilliant going forward and would supply passes for the rest of that great Italian side.” — Gary Lineker

“A legend. A modern defender and unique in his day as a great ball-playing defender. Very elegant, he read the game superbly, had great speed and took a fabulous free-kick.” — Brian Laudrup

“Baresi was quality on the ball, and like all great Italian centre-halves he was hard and would stop at nothing to win the ball. Oddly, he was in his late 20s before he got the recognition he deserved, and by then, he was the world’s best defender.” — Ronaldo Koeman

“A leader at the back, very strong and quick, with an excellent understanding of the game. As a defender, he could do everything. A lot of the time, he would know what the attacker was going to do before they knew themselves! How do you get past someone like that?” Ruud Gullit

“After a game against (Baresi), your feet need loads of ice and anti-inflammatories.” Gianfranco Zola (when asked about the toughest defender he’d ever faced)

uid_bf3443767b48e6517557ed8b88241c2b1355918774470_width_996_play_0_pos_561_gs_0“What more words are there to describe this man? Simply the best defender of the last three decades, and the last great libero. He always seemed to know in advance where the ball would go and there was no centre-forward on the planet who was capable of surprising him. He also had very good technique when it came to playing the ball, and when he attacked, he was always dangerous. A real icon.” Marcel Desailly

“Franco Baresi is my idol. The way he ran his back-line, what a player. You can’t begin to imagine to what a high level he took the art of defending. Impeccable. Class.” — Marcel Desailly

“He could play anywhere at the back and also what is forgotten is his ability to carry the ball forward out of defence and find the right pass.” Marco van Basten

“Baresi wasn’t as physically strong as you might expect a central defender to be – he would generally play as sweeper – but he was so good you would just watch him dictate the pace of the game. He read the game better than any defender I’ve ever seen, and I think that’s what makes him stand out as one of the best central defenders of all time.” — Tony Adams

“In those great AC Milan sides of the late ’80s and early ’90s he was the boss. Every man who played with or against him knew he was the boss. Everybody respected him. He was a very intelligent player, and always calm. I loved that ability to look so relaxed. Nothing ever troubled Baresi; he would deal with problems with no fuss at all.” — Laurent Blanc

“The consummate libero, capable of doing whatever he wanted with the ball whether he was defending or attacking. He had great positional sense and with his speed, he could bring the defence out quickly and launch an attack. And that was always half a goal in itself.” — Zico

“Baresi bossed simply the best club side I have ever seen – the Milan team of the late-1980s and early-’90s. They had great attacking players, not least Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten, but they were based on being sound at the back and Baresi was obviously the one who organised them. Basically he told the rest of them what to do and he was the main man in defence.” — Jamie Carragher (2005)

“He made a mockery of the idea you have to be big, strong and quick to be a great defender. He didn’t rely on his size – he was only 5ft 10in – or his power but he was a brilliant organiser and what he lacked for in pace, he made up for with organisational skills. The way he read a game would keep him one step ahead of the opposition. He was fantastic on the ball. He’d start AC Milan’s attacks by surging out of defence. Brilliant.” — Jamie Carragher

“Made defending look easy, but he was uncompromising when he needed to be.” — Emmanuel Petit

“I loved Franco Baresi. He was the man. Everything about him was aggressive, on the front foot. He was a proper leader. He was hard, and nothing seemed to get past him.” Gary Neville (from his autobiography “Red: My Autobiography”)

“This guy is a monument in world football. Milan and Italy built their teams around him, as I found out when  Milan beat Steaua Bucharest 4-0 in the 1989 European Cup Final. He was able to construct the game from the back, coming out of defence and launching some amazing passes to devastating effect.” — Gheorghe Hagi

“A fantastic ball-playing centre-back. He had such an amazing reading of the game that you didn’t know if he was quick or not. It didn’t matter, he was always just where the ball was. Not many strikers got a sniff against him and he played against the best!” — Ray Parlour


“He was special. He was a short, skinny guy but so strong. He could jump so high. The way he played on the field was an example for everybody. He wasn’t a big speaker, no, no, no. The way he played, the way he trained was an example. He had pace, but he was only 70kg. But let me tell you – when he hit you with a tackle, he was so strong. For me, he was the role model. He was a reference. He was also very good with the ball. Very, very good. It is very hard to find a good defender, who is strong and good with the ball. Very hard.” Paolo Maldini


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