Alessandro Costacurta is considered not only a legend of AC Milan, but also one of the best defenders in the club’s history, like Franco Baresi, Mauro Tassotti or Paolo Maldini. AC then naturally inducted him into their hall of fame. How did Costarcuto’s football career progress?
Alessandro Costacurta was a football defender from AC Milan who, apart from one stint as a guest at Monza, spent his entire football career at the Italian club. The Rossoneri took him out of the youth team in 1985. During the 1985/86 season, he was already part of the senior team, but after that he went on loan to Monza.
It was not until the 1986/87 season that he joined the AC A-team permanently, but he did not make any starts in Serie A. Only twice did he appear in an Italian Cup match. But that changed the following season, when on 25 October 1987, under Arrigo Sacchi, he played against Hellas Verona. AC won the match 1: 0.
However, he only started seven games in 1987/88, as the more experienced Filippo Galli was still playing in his position, and he added one more start in the Coppa Italia. However, it was with the Rossoneri that he won his first championship title that season. He did not break into the starting line-up until the 1988/89 season.
From then on, Costacurta began to pick up some truly great success with AC. The 1988/89 and 1989/1990 seasons saw Milan win the Italian Super Cup, two Intercontinental Cup championships, two PMEZ titles (the equivalent of the Champions League at the time – ed.) and a UEFA Super Cup win. AC Milan was one of the most difficult teams to beat during the Sacchi era.
Costacurta was an integral part of the starting line-up, a link without which AC might not have achieved so much success. After all, in the late eighties and first half of the nineties, Costacurta was part of an impenetrable wall along with Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and Mauro Tassotti.
It is the foursome of Baresi, Maldini, Costacurta and Tassotti that is still considered one of the best in football history. And when the Dutch attacking trio of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard joined the club in the late 1980s, Milan began a period of domestic and international triumphs.
Then in the 1990s, Costacurta and AC won trophy after trophy. In the 1993/94 season, the Rossoneri triumphed in the Champions League, beating the famous Barcelona with Johan Cruyff 4-0 in the final. However, overall they have been in the final three times – losing to Marseille in the 1992-93 season and to Ajax in the 1994-95 season.
In the 1991/92, 1992/93 and 1993/94 seasons, AC won three titles in a row under coach Fabio Capello. Especially the first mentioned season was worth it. AC did not lose a single game, and Costacurta helped Milan to a record 58 matches without a single defeat.
And in the 1993/94 season, the Red and Black defence conceded only 15 goals. Costacurta also won the Supercoppa Italiana three times in a row under Capello, in 1992, 1993 and 1994. Costacurta won his fifth title with AC at the end of the 1995/96 season.
The period after the departure of coach Capello
The departure of coach Capello and some important players after winning the title in the 1995/96 season also marked the end of AC’s golden era. The Rossoneri fell in the Italian Super Cup in 1996, moreover, they did not even qualify for the European Cup in the 1996/97 and 1997/98 seasons. Costacurta at least helped Milan reach the Coppa Italia final in 1998, where they lost to Lazio.
After the arrival of Alberto Zaccheroni in the 1998/99 season, Costacurta continued to be a key member of the starting line-up and featured in Zaccheroni’s new three-man defensive formation alongside Maldini and Luigi Sala. In addition, after the retirement of Baresi and Tassotti, he was appointed assistant and vice-captain respectively to Maldini.
However, it was at the end of the 1998/99 season that AC won their 16th Scudetto overall with Costacurta in the line-up, just one point ahead of Lazio. But in the following two seasons the Rossoneri did not win another trophy.
The Milanese lost to Parma in the Italian Super Cup in 1999, and at the end of the 2000/01 season they even finished sixth in the league, outside of the tie securing participation in the Champions League. In the middle of the 2000/01 season, AC management fired coach Zaccheroni, replacing him temporarily with Cesare Maldini.
The Carlo Ancelotti era
In 2001, however, Carlo Ancelotti was confirmed as the new coach of AC Milan, who fulfilled the role of head coach of the Italian big club until 2009. And during that time, the golden winning era returned to Milan in part. Although the Rossoneri won only one Serie A title, they added two Champions League championships, plus a final appearance.
AC also recorded one win each in the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, and they dominated the UEFA Super Cup in 2003 and 2007. While winning the Intercontinental Cup eluded the men in red and black, the 2007 Club World Cup title also counts.
The fact remains, however, that in the later years of the new millennium, Costacurta did not have the same match workload as in his prime. In the 2004/05, 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons he made 14, 15 and 3 league starts respectively.
In fact, his place was slowly taken by stoppers Alessandro Nesta and Jaap Stam. It should be noted, Ancelotti used him not only at stopper, but also on the right edge of defence.
End of career
Costacurta originally planned to retire at the end of the 2005/06 season, but at the age of 40 he extended his contract for another year. 21. on November 2006, at 40 years and 213 days, he became the oldest footballer ever to play in the Champions League. However, Costacurta’s record was later surpassed by Marco Ballotta, who played in a Lazio jersey on 11 December 2007 against Real Madrid at the age of 43 years and 253 days.
On 7 May 2007, he announced his retirement from football at the age of 41, and subsequently remained at the club briefly as an assistant coach to Ancelotti. His last home game in a red and black jersey was on 19 May 2007, when AC lost to Udinese 2-3. Costacurta converted a penalty, his first Serie A goal since the 1991/92 season.
Interestingly, with this goal Costacurta became the oldest Serie A goal scorer. Recently, however, this record was taken from him by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who also converted a penalty kick in the match against Udinese.
National team career, summary of achievements
The bottom line is that Costacurta has won the Scudetto seven times with AC Milan, the Champions League five times, the UEFA Super Cup three times, the Italian Super Cup five times, the Intercontinental Cup twice and the Coppa Italia once. It is no wonder that he is included in the Milan Hall of Fame. In total, he played 663 games in the red and black jersey.
In any case, he was also an important player on the international scene, where he was a mainstay of the Italian national team. He played 59 games for the Squadra Azzurra, but did not win the World Cup or European Championship trophy. The closest he came was at the 1994 World Cup in the USA, where Italy reached the final but lost to Brazil in a penalty shootout.
Sources: AC Milan, Sempre Milan, FIFA, Transfermarkt
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