From the Forza Milan! Issue of January 2000, about the Centenary of Milan, related by the grandissime Carlo Pellegatti. I have translated it from Italian to English. Enjoy is all I can say!
100 Years Of Victories, by Carlo Pellegati
The ball in the net, players with the Rossonero jersey that are hugging each other, the fans going wild in the stadium. Victory! 100 years have passed, we are in the year 2000, incredible! And the sky of the world, maybe a little bit less polluted before, today a little bit less blue, has seen these scenes of celebrations over and over again, that all have one common name:Milan!
Let us go back in time, in that famous April 14th, 1901, date of the very first victory of Milan's history. The game is held at the Trotter of Piazza Doria, in Milano, the game is between Milan and Mediolanum, already a type of derby. The boys, won 2-0, with goals from Davies and Lies in the very first match of the history of Il Diavolo. Three weeks later, on May 05th, 1901, at the Ponte Carega in Genoa, Milan beat the heavy favorites of Genoa to win their first ever Scudetto.
Let us remain in the beginning of the century. A group of Milanisti went on to create another team, Internazionale. The very first derby in the league was held on January 10th, 1909, at the Civic Arena. Let us imagine a great public in that stadium. In the Curva Sud, let us imagine that the ancestors of the current Fossa dei Leoni, to galvanize and incite the team. Milan scores thanks to Trerč II, then Inter ties with Malcher. Lana and Laich give Milan a 3-1 lead, but we all know that the derbies are rich of suspense. Schuller scores for Inter, all out to attack in the end to tie the game, but in vain, as Radice, the Milan's keeper is doing a great job until the end and Milan wins the first ever derby 3-2.
Milan becomes great again in the beginning of the 1950's, when the Serie A makes its official debuts, as we know it. I now let Giorgio Fattori, as he shares with us the emotions of Gunnar Nordhal, in his book, "Oro e Campi Verdi", as he tells us, the very first great result of this reborn Milan: their 7-1 victory, in Torino against Juventus, on February 05th, 1950. Juve went onto win the Scudetto at the end of that season.
"...I still want to remember that match, that I consider to be my best in Italy. In Torino, against Juventus, 7-1. That day, I scored 3 goals, but my record in Italy is 4, against Triestina and Atalanta ( however, in a game in the Swedish league, i scored once 7 goals!), For a strange reason, my best memories of the Italian league are against Juventus, as in each match against them, i played at my very best of my possibilities." (Gunnar Nordhal).
Another match between Juventus and Milan, that the long timers will never forget, was held on November 16th, 1958 in Torino. The Milan of Altafini, Bean, Grillo and Schiaffino, in the bench, Bonizzoni and Viani. It's an incredible match! The Rossoneri score 3 goals in 33 minutes, with Grillo, Galli and Altafini. Boniperti, just before the half time score for Juve, then Corradi bring the home team within one. Altafinia scores the 4th goal, but Charles and Sivori tie the game in the last minutes of the game at
4-4 that seems to be the final score, when Grillo, with a deadly parabola scores at the 90th minute, the winning goal. It would have been marvelous, fantastic screaming at the microphone of a radio...10, 20, 30 times!
We have mentionned important victories in the league as far as emotions go, but let us spend some time on the very first international victory of Milan, that will forever leave its incredible trace all over the world: Milan-Benfica, finale of the Champions Cup in 1963, in Wembley, London. I still remember myself, a 13 years old kid, glued at the vitrine of an electronics store, which had put a black and white television, which was transmitting the game from the...swedish television, as Rai had incredibly not scheduled the finale of the Champions Cup! However, my father, he had taken the plane for the first time of his life, to be with the boys in London. The boys made us suffer in the first half. Eusebio scores for the Portguese side and the time flies by, Rocco changes the tactics, but the tying goal doesn't come. Then, suddenly, everything changes. Altafini, inspired by Rivera, under the guidance of Dino Sani. Milan ties the game. Then, the winning goal comes at the end, logically, may i add, with a great run, from midfield and then, it finishes in the net thanks to Altafini's scoring instincts. The Milan captain, Cesare Maldini, at the end of the game, in that far away but vivid and glorious 22nd of May 1963, can embrace the cup in his hands, the first Champions Cup of Milan's history, but also of Italian football.
Now, i want to tell you about not a victory, but of the match most..it's not easy defining it: strange or if you prefer, incredible of the past 40 years. It didn't happen to a lot of fans who have left the San Siro with a great win and end up at home, with a ...tie. But yes, it did happen to me and to all those present at the San Siro, in this day of 16th of October 1966. The game in question is Milan-Lazio. Bagatti scores for Lazio, Rosatto ties it at the 52nd minute, and then, Rivera offered us the winning goal, 5 minutes from the end. The referee Angonese whistles the end of the match. I leave the San Siro to go home with my father, happy of this nice win. When I arrive at home, my mother was expecting us, with the habitual sunday Chocolate feast and she said:"Too bad for tying the game in the very last minute." "No mother, I answer, look Rivera scored the winning goal, we have won!". "No, it ended tied". I had seen with my eyes the players leaving the field. What had happened? The ref had whistle the end of the game in a premature way. So he had to call all the players back on the field. Some players were already under the shower and they had to dress again to come on the field to play an extra 5 minutes! And 2 minutes from the end of this extra 5 minutes, Bagatti scored the 2-2 goal!
Nereo Rocco comes back to Milan and as a result, so do the great triumphs internationally and the great achievements. Let us now spend some time on one of the most memorable nights of Milan's history. Madrid, May 28th, 1969, finale of the Champions Cup between Milan and Ajax. An old plane had taken my dad and I, along other Milanisti such as the Di Floriani twins, the founders of the Milan Club Donne Rossonere (Women Milan Fan Club), my friend Luigi Puricelli and other Milan Fan Clubs such as sthe Milan Club Forlanini at the Santiago Bernabeu, where Rivera and Prati, offered us an extraordinary and unforgettable evening. I had a seat very close to the field and i was able to taste and appreciate from close range, to Gianni's (Rivera) finesse, and the three goals of Pierino (Prati). At the end of the match, i couldn't resist and I also went onto the field, with loads of other Milanisti in a complete state of transe. It was my first and only invasion of a football field...without a microphone.
During the 70's, I remember two particular victories: the first one is the 3-2 win against Inter, on the 27th of November of 1971. One could very well and rightfully ask:"What's the big deal about beating Inter?. The answer is simple: never has Milan beaten Inter in the last 5 minutes, with an anthological goal from Albertino Bigon, after having casually intercepted an Inter attack. Another unforgettable result, the biggest win of Milan in Serie A, is the 9-3 win over Atalanta, on October 15th, 1972. The Milan attack was composed of Bigon, Benetti, Prati, Rivera, Chiarugi. The San Siro board was filled, to say the least with the 3 goals of Pierino, Rivera and Bigon, each scoring 2 and the goals of Chiarugi and Benetti.
Two other results at the end of this same decade (70's) are still in my mind as if they were yesterday. The victory in another derby, with goals from Maldera and Braglia, in the very hot night of July 03rd, 1977 (finale of Coppa Italia) and a very emotional 2-1 win over Verona, in the year of the 10th Scudetto. Yes, on April 22nd, 1979, the Gialloblu of Verona, were causing us another bad moment, after having prevented us from winning our 10th scudetto 5 years ago. At half time, the atmosphere was filled with doubts, and memories of old nightmares with Verona in the past, then, Rivera, changed it all, few minutes after the start of the 2nd half, but the goal of delivrance, the one that offered us the 10th Scudetto arrived only 6 minutes from the end, thanks to Novellino.
The first half of the 80's, is marked by one vivid image: Mark Hately, during the afternoon of October 28th, 1984, jumps higher than Collovati and with a tremendous header, beats Inter's goal-keeper, Walter Zenga. From then on, I would like to have only one quality: that of being able to synthesize and summarize everything. Yes because after 1987, Milan won eveything and more; unforgettable matches, extraordinary successes, irrepetible and unmatchable achievements with the signature of Silvio Berlusconi. A huge joy for the deprived Rossonero people, was offered by Daniele Massaro, on May 22nd, 1987, in the play-off spot for the UEFA cup, between Milan and Sampdoria. The winning goal arrived at the 106th minute, in overtime. The goal was beautiful, but the party and celebrations of the after game, in that hot afternoon in Torino were unforgettable.
The following season saw a stratospheric Milan against Napoli, at the San Siro, 4-1, in a match that officially and definitely crowned Gullit as the new king of Serie A; a Milan of an embarrassing superiority over Inter in the derby won 2-0, with goals from Gullit and Virdis; an emotionally unforgettable and incredible Milan when in Napoli, on May 01st, 1988, along the applauses and standing ovation at the end of the game by the Napoli public, they beat Maradona and and co 3-2, winning in the same time, the Scudetto. What an afternoon! What a finale of the season with my friends Susini, Taveggia, Serafini, celebrating with the boys, screaming in the mic, hugging and kissing the boys at the end of the match! And the 1000's of Milanisti present that day, can all say:"I was there!". And i'm sure that these same fans, were also there, on April 19th, 1989, at the San Siro, for this epic Champions Cup 1/2 final 2nd leg against Real Madrid, where the boys, led by an archi-dominating Carlo Ancelotti in midfield, gave a lesson of football not only to Real Madrid, but to all of the world, by destroying Real 5-0! I'm also certain that those who were there, were also present a month later, at the Nou Camp, in Barcelona, where the boys accompagnied by the biggest movement of fans, not only in the history of football, but of all sports with a massive 90, 000 fans going to Barcelona by all means, (plane, train, bus, cars, motorcycles, boat, etc..) to see Milan destroy Steaua Bucarest, 4-0 in an incredible and monumental performance. That performance was acclaimed worldwide and the biggest acclaim came from France's leading daily sports paper, L'Equipe, the next day with this comment:" We knew the game of football, before yesterday. We have just witnessed and discovered the football of Milan, a football that will change the face of this game in the future. A team of Extraterrestrials" .
During the 1990's, the achievements of Capello and of his players have all now become a myth and a legend, but among all of these, two remain in my mind and heart more than any other. The one that really puts me in a total state of joy is the fantastic match on May 18th, 1994, in Athens, in the final of the Champions Cup against the heavy favorits of Barcelona. On that day, Milan are playing Cruyff's impetuous Barcelona, the heavy favorites, without Baresi and Costacurta! It was a pure triumph on every aspect:the triumph of the class, of the perseverance, of the "carattere", of the tactics and stratgey put forth by the master mind of Capello. The result is without the doubt of any shadow: 4-0 in another one of those magical nights, made in Magico Milan.
Another date that will always remain in my mind and heart of the 90's, is one that not a lot of people will remember, but it will remain nonetheless in the archives of football history, and also in the future of football's history, is the 27th of February of 1994. In that day, Seba Rossi beat the old record of Dino Zoff of the most minutes not conceeding a goal. Zoff's record was an incredible 903 minutes! Seba pulverized it and took it to a place unreachable by reaching 929 minutes! At around 16:00, Sebastiano Rossi, against Foggia beat that record, with 929 minutes. Meditate about that people! I am certain that your grandsons, will be asking you, 40 years from now: "Were you there 40 years ago, when Rossi beat the record of most minutes without conceeding a goal? A record that has still not been beaten!" And that question, i will be asking you all in...2034!
In closing of these indelebile memories, i want to spend some time on the latest great moment, notably the Milan-Empoli of May 16th, 1999. Not so much for the easy victory (4-0), but for the emotions, for the anxiety around it, with the Milan fans, with one ear in the radio to follow the result of Fiorentina-Lazio and the other, at the San Siro. Milan overcame Lazio on that 2nd last day of the season. Overcoming Lazio was an incredible and unforgettable feat by the boys. It seemed impossible and so far away at the beginning of the match, yet the score is 1-1 between Fiorentina and Lazio! "Sorpasso...Sorpasso!" as the people in the stadium and around the world were chanting! (Sorpasso means overcoming, passing in front of another team). "Sorpasso", a word that has cost dearly to Milan in the past on numerous occasions, but that this time, in this afternoon, however, becomes a liberatory and deliverance word!
Milan has ended the century with another Scudetto, the 16th. Another fantastic achievement, a crowning of 100 absolutely exceptional years. Or even better, normal. Yes, because for Milan, it is normal winning; yes, because they are, our dear, old, grand, Magico Milan!
FORZA MAGICO MILAN!"
P.S. Just one word: FORZA PELLEGATTI!