Baresi in 2012
|Date of birth||8 May 1960|
|Place of birth||Travagliato (Brescia), Italy|
|Height||1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Playing position||Defender (Retired)|
|2006–2008||Milan Primavera (Berretti)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Franco Baresi (Italian pronunciation: [ˈfraŋko baˈreːzi; -eːsi]; born 8 May 1960 in Travagliato, Italy) is an Italian football youth team coach and a former player and manager. He played as a sweeper and as a central defender, and spent his entire 20-year career with Serie A club A.C. Milan, captaining the club for 15 seasons. He is considered one of the greatest defenders of all time, and was ranked 19th in World Soccer's list of the 100 greatest players of the twentieth century. He won the Champions League 3 times, as well as 6 Serie A titles, 4 Supercoppa Italiana titles, 3 European Super Cups and 2 Intercontinental Cups.
With Italy, he won the 1982 FIFA World Cup. He also played in the 1990 FIFA World Cup where he was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team, finishing third in the competition. At the 1994 FIFA World Cup he was named Italy's captain and was an integral part of the team that reached the final, although he would miss a penalty in the resulting shoot-out, as Brazil lifted the trophy. Baresi also represented Italy at two UEFA European Championships, in 1980 and 1988, and at the 1984 Olympics, reaching the semi-finals on each occasion.
The younger brother of former footballer Giuseppe Baresi, after joining the Milan senior team as a youngster, Franco Baresi was initially nicknamed "Piscinin", Milanese for "Little one"; due to his skill and success, he was later known as "Kaiser Franz", a reference to fellow legendary sweeper Franz Beckenbauer. In 1999, he was voted Milan's Player of the Century. After his final season at Milan in 1997, the club retired Baresi's shirt number 6. He was named by Pelé one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at the FIFA centenary awards ceremony in 2004. Baresi was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
Originally a Milan youth product, Baresi went on to spend his entire twenty year professional career with Milan, making his Serie A debut at the age of 17, during the 1977–78 season on 23 April 1978. He had initially been rejected by Inter, who chose his brother Giuseppe instead, while Milan signed Franco Baresi. The following season, he was made a member of the starting eleven, playing as a sweeper or as a centreback, winning the 1978–79 Serie A title, Milan's tenth overall, playing alongside Fabio Capello, and also Gianni Rivera, in what would be his last season at the club. This success was soon followed by a dark period in the club's history, when Milan was relegated to Serie B twice during the early 1980s. Milan were relegated in 1980 for being involved in the match fixing scandal of 1980, and once again after finishing third-last in the 1981–82 season, after having just returned to Serie A the previous season, after winning the 1980–81 Serie B title. Despite being a member of the Euro 1980 Italy squad that had finished fourth, and the 1982 World Cup winning team, Baresi elected to stay with Milan, winning the Serie B title for the second time during the 1982–83 season, and bringing Milan back to Serie A. After Aldo Maldera and Fulvio Collovati left the club in 1982, Baresi was appointed Milan's captain, at the age of 22, and would hold this position for much of his time at the club, becoming a symbol and a leader for the team. During this temporary bleak period for Milan, Baresi did manage to win a Mitropa Cup in 1982, and reached the Coppa Italia final during 1984–85 season, although the team failed to dominate in Serie A.
During the end of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, Baresi was at the heart of a formidable all-Italian defence alongside Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Mauro Tassotti, and later, Christian Panucci, under managers Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, a defence which is regarded by many as the greatest of all time. When the attacking Dutch trio of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard arrived at the club in the late 1980s, Milan began a period of domestic and international domination, and between 1987 and 1996, at the height of the club's success, the Milan squad contained many Italian and international stars, such as Roberto Donadoni, Carlo Ancelotti, Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, and later, Demetrio Albertini, Dejan Savićević, Zvonimir Boban, Marcel Desailly, George Weah, Jean-Pierre Papin, Brian Laudrup, and Roberto Baggio. Under Sacchi, Milan won the Serie A title in 1987–88, with Baresi helping Milan to concede only 14 goals. This title was immediately followed by an Italian Supercup in 1988 the next season, and back to back European Cups in 1988–89 and 1989–90. Baresi was also runner-up to team mate Van Basten for the Ballon d'Or in 1989, finishing ahead of his other team mate Frank Rijkaard, and was named Serie A Footballer of the Year in 1989–90. Milan also reached the Coppa Italia final during the 1989–90 season.
Baresi went on to win four more Serie A titles with Milan under Fabio Capello, including three consecutive titles, during the 1991–92, 1992–93 and the 1993–94 seasons. Baresi helped Milan win the 1991–92 title undefeated, helping Milan to go unbeaten for an Italian record of 58 matches. Milan also scored a record 74 goals that season. During the 1993–94 season, Baresi helped Milan concede a mere 15 goals in Serie A, helping the club to finish the season with the best defence. Baresi also won three consecutive Italian Supercups under Capello, in 1992, 1993, and 1994. Milan also reached three consecutive UEFA Champions League Finals during the 1992–93, 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons, losing out to Marseille in the 1992–93 tournament, and Ajax in the 1994–95 tournament. Baresi won the third European Cup (UEFA Champions League) of his career in 1993–94 where, Milan defeated Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team' FC Barcelona 4–0 in the final. Baresi also managed to win the 1994 European Supercup, although Milan were defeated in the 1994 Intercontinental Cup, the 1993 UEFA Super Cup and the 1993 Intercontinental Cup. Under Capello, Milan and Baresi were able to capture another Serie A title during 1995–96 season, Baresi's sixth title in total.
Baresi retired at the end of the 1996–97 Serie A season, at the age of 37. In his 20 seasons with Milan, he won six Serie A titles, three Champions League titles (reaching five finals in total), two Intercontinental Cups (four finals in total), four European Supercups (five finals in total), four Italian Supercups (five finals in total), two Serie B titles, and a Mitropa Cup. He scored 31 goals for Milan, 21 of which were on penalties, and, despite being a defender, he was the top scorer of the Coppa Italia during the 1989–90 season, the only trophy which he failed to win with Milan, reaching the final twice during his career. His final goal for Milan was scored in a 2–1 win against Padova on 27 August 1995. In his honour, Milan retired his number 6 shirt, which he had worn throughout his career. The captain's armband, which he had worn for 15 seasons, was handed over to Paolo Maldini. Milan organised a celebration match in his honour, which was played on 28 October 1997 at the San Siro stadium, featuring many footballing stars.
At the age of 20, whilst still playing in the Italy Under-21 side, Baresi was named in Italy's 22-man squad for the 1980 European Championship along with his older brother Giuseppe, by manager Enzo Bearzot. The tournament was held on home soil, and Italy went on to finish fourth, although, unlike his brother, Franco Baresi did not play a single match in the tournament. Euro 1980 would be the only time that the two brothers were on the Italy squad together at a major tournament. At the age of 22, Baresi was named in Italy's squad for the 1982 FIFA World Cup. The Azzurri won their third World Cup, beating West Germany in the final, but Baresi, once again, was not selected to play a match throughout the tournament. Baresi was also a member of the Italy squad that took part in the 1984 Olympics. Italy finished in fourth place after a semi-final defeat to Brazil, and losing the bronze medal match to Yugoslavia. Baresi scored a goal against the USA during the group stage. He won his first senior international cap in a 1984 UEFA European Championship qualifying match against Romania in Florence, on 14 December 1982, which ended 0–0. Italy, however, ultimately failed to qualify for the final tournament.
Baresi was not included in Italy's squad for the 1986 World Cup by coach Enzo Bearzot, who saw him as being more of a midfielder than a defender (although his brother Giuseppe was selected as a defender for the World Cup, as well as Roberto Tricella). He returned to the team for the 1988 European Championships, playing as a sweeper, where Italy reached the semi-finals under Azeglio Vicini, becoming an undisputed first team member, playing in every match. He made his first appearance in a World Cup finals match in the 1990 tournament, which was held on home soil, and he played in every match as one of the starting centrebacks, as Italy finished in third-place, after being eliminated by defending champions Argentina in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals. Baresi helped the Italian defence to keep five consecutive clean sheets, only conceding 2 goals, and going unbeaten for a World Cup record of 518 minutes, until they were beaten by an Argentinian equaliser in the semi-final. His performances earned him a spot on the 1990 World Cup Team of the tournament.
After replacing Giuseppe Bergomi as captain for the 1994 World Cup under his former manager at Milan Arrigo Sacchi, Baresi sustained an injury to his meniscus in Italy's second group match (a 1–0 win against Norway) and missed most of the tournament. He returned to the squad 25 days later, in record time for the final, with a dominant defensive performance, helping Italy to keep a clean sheet against the Brazilians, despite the key defensive absences of his Milan team mates Costacurta and Tassotti. After a 0–0 deadlock following extra time, the match went to a penalty shootout, and Baresi subsequently missed his penalty, suffering from severe cramps and fatigue. Following misses by Massaro and Baggio, Italy were defeated by Brazil in the penalty shootout. Following the World Cup defeat, Baresi made one more appearance for Italy, in an away Euro 1996 qualifying match against Slovenia, on 7 September 1994, which ended in a 1–1 draw. Baresi subsequently retired from the national side at the age of 34, and passed on the captain's armband to his Milan team-mate Maldini. Baresi amassed 81 caps for Italy, scoring one goal in a friendly win against the USSR, and he is one of seven players to have achieved the rare feat of winning Gold, Silver and Bronze World Cup medals during his international career.
Style of play
Baresi is regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time. He played his entire twenty year career with Milan, becoming a club legend. At Milan, he formed one of the most formidable defensive units of all time, alongside Maldini, Costacurta, Tassotti, Galli, and later Panucci. He was a complete and consistent defender, who combined power with elegance, and he was gifted with outstanding physical and mental attributes, such as pace, strength, tenacity, concentration and stamina, which made him effective in the air.
Although Baresi was capable of playing anywhere along the backline, he primarily excelled as a centreback and as sweeper, where he combined his defensive attributes, and his ability to read the game, with his excellent vision, technique, and ball distribution skills. His passing range, technical ability, and ball control allowed him to advance forward into the midfield to start attacking plays from the back, enabling him to function as a secondary playmaker for his team, and also play as a defensive or central midfielder when necessary. Despite being a defender, he was also an accurate penalty kick taker. Baresi was known for being a strong and accurate tackler, who was very good at winning back possession, and at anticipating and intercepting plays, due to his acute tactical intelligence, marking ability, and positional sense. He was also known for his professionalism, his longevity, his outstanding leadership, his commanding presence on the pitch, and his organisational skills throughout his career, captaining both Milan and the Italian national side.
He was appointed head coach of Milan's Primavera Under-20 squad. In 2006, he was moved by the club to coach the Berretti Under-19 squad, with his former fellow Filippo Galli replacing him at the helm of the Primavera squad. He retired from coaching and was replaced by Roberto Bertuzzo.
Franco Baresi is the younger brother of Internazionale legendary defender Giuseppe Baresi. Interestingly, as youngsters, both players had tryouts for Inter, but Franco was rejected, and purchased by local rivals Milan; as he was the younger player, he was initially known as "Baresi 2". Due to Franco's eventual great success and popularity throughout his career, however, which even surpassed that of his older brother's, Giuseppe later became known as "the other Baresi", despite also achieving notable success.
Baresi is featured in the EA Sports football video game series FIFA 14's Classic XI – a multi-national all-star team, along with compatriots Bruno Conti, Gianni Rivera, and Giacinto Facchetti. He was named in the Ultimate Team Legends in FIFA 15.
|Italy national team|
- Intercontinental Cup (football) (2): 1989, 1990
- European Cup/Champions League (3): 1988–89, 1989–90, 1993–94
- UEFA Super Cup (3): 1989, 1990, 1994
- Serie A (6): 1978–79, 1987–88, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96
- Supercoppa Italiana (4): 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994
- FIFA World Cup: 1982
- FIFA World Cup Third-place: 1990
- FIFA World Cup Runner-up: 1994
- UEFA European Championship: Semifinalist 1980, 1988
- Ballon d'Or: Runner-up 1989
- Coppa Italia Top Scorer: 1989–90
- Guerin d'Oro (Serie A Footballer of the Year): 1989–90
- FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1990
- Premio Nazionale Carriera Esemplare "Gaetano Scirea": 1994
- World Soccer The Greatest Players of the 20th century #19
- A.C. Milan Player of the Century: 1999
- AIC Serie A Player of the Century: 2000
- FIFA 100: 2004
- UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #17th
- A.C. Milan Hall of Fame
- Golden Foot: 2012 (Under the category of "Football Legend")
- Italian Football Hall of Fame: 2013
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