Quotes on: Marco van Basten

“He’s the quickest 6ft 3in centre-forward I’ve ever seen! Just awesome. He was as quick as Ian Wright, as good in the air as Joe Jordan and he held the ball up better than Alan Smith. [ . . . ] Van Basten could head, volley – he had power and strength.” — Tony Adams

“Probably the best striker I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t just a goalscorer: he could hold the ball up superbly and had great skill, which he showed in his goals. He’ll always be remembered for hooking a stunning volley into the top corner in the Euro 88 final but at that time, at Milan, he was the main man in the best team in the world.” — Jamie Carragher

“It’s such a shame Van Basten’s career was curtailed by injury. What did he have that I didn’t? Touch, skill – and he scored goals as well. He was just such a wonderful, gifted, well-balanced footballer.” — Gary Lineker

“Marco was able to score goals from impossible positions, such as that amazing volley in Euro 88 against the Soviet Union. He had all the qualities for a perfect striker, and his technique made him very hard to stop in the box. His movement was also good. He was a nightmare for defenders.” — Gheorghe Hagi

“Injuries cut him down when he was in the best form of his career, spearheading Fabio Capello’s new and rejuvenated Milan side. Yet by then, Marco had already done enough to perhaps be regarded as the greatest number nine there’s ever been. People always talk about his strike against the Soviet Union in the 1988 European Championship Final, and yes, it was a great goal, but Marco scored even better goals, for both Ajax and AC Milan.” — Ronald Koeman

“He was one of the best strikers in the world.” — Ronald Koeman

“Strong in the air and could create goals for himself. Even though he was tall, he was flexible and could turn and do pretty much everything. Headers, bicycle kicks, volleys, everything. He was also a vicious player. If defenders tried to kick him, he would kick them back. He knew how to look after himself on the pitch.” Ruud Gullit

“I think he was excellent. I just did everything I could to give him the ball as much as possible.” — Ruud Gullit

“He could score goals in every possible way; spectacular goals, tap-ins, individual goals. He was the complete footballer.” — Demetrio Albertini

“I’ve always said van Basten was the best player I ever played with because he only had a few years in which to show his talent. He won three Balon D’Or’s, yet was only 28 when he retired. Most players have a little more time than that.” — Demetrio Albertini

“He was elegance personified. He could score in millions of different ways and always with an unbelievable touch of class. He had no weak points – he was completely two-footed, and he was strong with his head, but he didn’t just score goals, he also created many, many assists. It is a shame that he stopped playing at such a young age. Had he continued into his thirties, I think he could have become a great ‘number 10’.” Marcel Desailly

“[ . . . ] there will never be a player like Van Basten again.” — Ruud van Nistelrooy

“I used to play with Marco van Basten at Milan. I asked him how we should give the ball to him. He said, “Just pass it, and then start running to congratulate me”. He always thought he would score, and he was usually right.” — Carlo Ancelotti

“Marco was the greatest centre forward that I’ve ever trained, he was a swan. [ . . . ] Marco remains the greatest in his role. It was such a shame that he was forced to retire at 28. It was a mortal misfortune for him, for football, and for Milan.” — Fabio Capello

“He’s the greatest centre-forward I’ve ever played with or against. Quite simply, he had everything. He could dribble, was good in the air, good awareness, great touch. For such a big man – he’s 6ft 2in – to be so delicate was amazing. He played off the shoulder and his finishing was as good as any striker that has ever lived.” — John Barnes

“He was an incredible player, Marco van Basten. He was the complete footballer.” — John Barnes

“I still remember the first time I saw him. It was in the dressing room from Ajax. He was there for an internship to become a coach. The moment he walked in I did not know what to say. In the period I was at Ajax I’ve got to know him better. He was a nice person, a real striker.” — Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“It is between Romário and Van Basten.” — Diego Maradona, on who was the best player he ever saw

“Oh yes. Right foot. Left foot. Heading, so strong, fast. He could score, he could pass the ball. He was the best. The way he played was timeless. He had to quit when he was 28. Surgery. Stupid surgery to the ankle. It was such a pity.” Paolo Maldini, when asked about the best player he played with or against

“It wasn’t just about his goals; he was very quick, good one-on-one, he was strong in the air, he had a great shot with either foot. It was hard to find a quality that he didn’t possess.” — Filippo Galli

“He was the most beautiful striker I’ve ever seen. He had an incredible elegance about him. He could do anything with the ball.” — Mauro Tassotti

“The person who really pushed us (AC Milan) forward was van Basten, because of his ability in front of goal and the goals he scored. A really great player.” Franco Baresi

“So elegant, he never seemed to sweat, but concrete too and with both feet and his head. His footsteps are evident in football history: who doesn’t know his goal in the Euro 1988 final?” — Franco Baresi


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