Saturday December 16 2017
Happy Birthday AC Milan!

On this day in 1899, Italy's most successful European side, AC Milan, was founded.

The club was created by two English expats, Alfred Edwards and Herbert Kilpin, using the English name for the city rather than the Italian, Milano.

Kilpin was the club's first captain and gave the Rossoneri their famous red and black stripes "to strike fear into our opponents".

Milan won three league titles in the early years of the club, including back-to-back triumphs in 1906 and 1907.

The year after the latter triumph, a proposed new rule against adding to the squad's foreign contingent saw some members of the club split away, forming a new team - FC Internazionale.

For 44 years after the split the Diavolo didn't win the Scudetto, which some put down to a curse placed upon the club by Carlo, Arturo and Enrico Hintermann.

However, they returned to the top of Italian football in the 1950s, inspired by their Swedish frontline of Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm, affectionately known as the Gre-No-Li attack.

The Rossoneri won the Scudetto four times in that decade, before again triumphing in 1962.

That granted entry to the European Cup, and Milan won the first of their seven by beating reigning champions Benfica 2-1 at Wembley.

Milan established their European pedigree by winning the Cup Winners' Cup in 1968, before lifting the big one again the following year.

The 1970s brought three consecutive second-placed finishes, with the Diavolo dramatically losing out to Juventus by a point in 1973 after a 5-3 loss to Verona on the final day.

Inspired by Gianni Rivera, the Rossoneri finally added a 10th Scudetto in 1979, but the following years would prove to be perhaps the worst in the club's history.

The club was implicated in the 1980 Totonero scandal, and relegated to Serie B for the first time in their history.

While they bounced back immediately by winning the division, the squad wasn't cut out for Serie A and Milan were relegated, scoring just 21 goals in the 30 game season.

Once again they came straight back up, but the Rossoneri continued to struggle in mid-table and risked bankruptcy in 1986.

Fortunately, there was a saviour waiting in the wings, with media magnate Silvio Berlusconi taking over the club, arriving in a helicopter to the strains of 'Ride of the Valkyries'.

The new President put his money where his mouth is, and after a fifth-place finish saw Liedholm a sacked as Coach, he appointed the Parma boss, Arrigo Sacchi.

The rest, as they say, is history with the former cobbler assembling one of the greatest teams in football history, built on a back-four of Mauro Tassotti, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta and Paolo Maldini.

Sacchi's team won the 1988 Scudetto, as well as back-to-back European Cups in 1989 and 1990 before Fabio Capello continued their dominance.

Milan won five Scudetti across the 1990s, including in their centenary season, and added a fifth European Cup in 1994.

Following a period of relative decline, Carlo Ancelotti's arrival as Coach in 2001 revitalised the Diavolo, who beat Juventus on penalties to win the 2003 Champions League final.

Carletto won the Scudetto the following season, and only a famous second half collapse against Liverpool denied the Rossoneri their seventh Champions League title.

They got their revenge two years later.

Having initially been excluded from Europe due to the Calciopoli scandal, Milan once again reached the final, where they once again played Liverpool.

This time there would be no mistakes, with Pippo Inzaghi grabbing a double in a 2-1 win.

It could be argued that was the last truly great Milan side, despite Massimiliano Allegri's side winning the Scudetto in 2011.

Years of underinvestment caught up with the Diavolo, and the past four seasons have seen them finish eighth, 10th, seventh and sixth.

Berlusconi sold the club to Chinese investors in April this year, and a €200m summer transfer campaign followed.

A poor start to the season cost Coach Vincenzo Montella his job, but the Rossoneri are still in the Europa League, and have an outside chance at Champions League qualification.

In reality their best bet may be to win the Europa League - and their history shows they have the European pedigree to do just that.

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