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AC Milan
AC Milan, or simply Milan, was founded in 1899 by English ex-pats which is why the club’s name uses the English spelling of Milan.  I Rossoneri (The Red and Blacks) are famous for their home jersey with the red representing the fiery nature of the home players and the black representing the opponents fear.
AC Milan

AC Milan


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Passion and fear: two emotions that are perhaps more powerful than any other. The former has the ability to inspire superhuman feats, to take people outside of their normal selves and breed a unique connectivity. The latter can be debilitating and incredibly difficulty to overcome.

In a sporting context, any coach worth his or her salt looks to stoke the fire of passion within their players. And a fearsome team or individual can strike a fatal psychological blow against an opponent before an official contest has even begun.

It stands to reason then, that when AC Milan was formed in 1899, the club’s founders sought to conjure a visible representation of passion and fear to be placed front and center of everything the team would go on to achieve.

In recent decades, football shirts have become billboards for advertisers and a way for clubs to squeeze every last drop of revenue out of the game’s worldwide popularity. It is not uncommon to see three separate brand logos on one jersey, with the kit manufacturer denoted on the chest, the principle sponsor emblazoned in large print on the midriff, and increasingly even an additional small corporate logo on the sleeve.

However, long before any of this was common practice, things were much simpler: it was the club crest and colors that stood alone.

Milan decided that they wanted their team to give everything on the pitch, to be willing to die for the cause, to believe in the principles of the club; to play with passion. As such, it was determined that one of their primary kit colors would be red, to represent that powerful emotion.

They also wanted to be seen as an intimidating force within the calico landscape, a well-oiled winning machine whose foes knew that any trip to Milan would almost certainly end in defeat; thus, black, to represent the fear they intended to strike in prospective opponents, was also chosen to comprise the shirt.

Englishman Henry Kilpin, one of the founders of Milan Football and Cricket Club, as it was originally known, is believed to be the person responsible for coming up with the team’s very first kit design.

Stripes were chosen in homage to the style of shirt that was so prevalent in his homeland at the time, with the original badge being simply the St. George’s Cross – a red cross on a white background which still forms part of the club’s logo to this day.

Unlike many teams, Milan has only every known one combination of shirt colors for their home jersey, with the red and black stripes having remained in place for more than a century – although the original jersey sported narrower stripes, a style which was reprised to mark the club’s centenary year in 1999. So intrinsic to the Italian side’s identity are their famous colours that their nickname, the Rossoneri, translates to the red and blacks, while they are also known as the Devils thanks to their dark and fiery coloring.

Tradition and a respectful nod to the past remains at the heart of Milan’s game day attire. So much so that they have even, for the most part, stayed true to the all-black goalkeepers’ jersey and all-white away strip that have been the established designs for decades.

Indeed, the immaculate white change kit holds a particularly fond place in Milan fans’ hearts. The club’s followers believe their away jersey to be a lucky charm in European Cup finals, having worn the colors for six of their seven triumphs in the continent’s most prestigious competition.

Although the Milan kit design is rooted firmly in the past, it has also been the source of innovation, as, in 1981, the San Siro club was the first to print the names, as well as the numbers, of their players on the back of their shirts. Since that time, such illustrious names as [Marco] Van Basten, [Ruud] Gullit, [Franco] Baresi, [Paolo] Maldini and Kaka have been emblazoned on the Rossoneri’s jersey.

As one of the most famous, popular and successful club’s in all of soccer, there is a certain comfort in knowing that tradition and respect for the foundations upon which the club was built is still an essential tenet of the modern-day AC Milan.

AC Milan are one of the most popular teams in Italy and around the world. The jersey of the Rossoneri (Red and Blacks) is instantly recognizable anywhere in the world and World Soccer Shop looks at 5 reasons why you may want to pull on a jersey and cheer for the club.

5. Political Power
AC Milan was owned by Silvio Berlusconi for 31 years from 1986 to the spring of 2017, when he sold the team to a group of Chinese investors for €740 million. During his ownership Berlusconi was a dominant figure in Italy and was also the country’s the longest serving post-war Prime Minister, holding the office for nine years. Berlusconi’s ownership was the most successful time in the club’s history as it won eight of its Serie A titles and five Champions Leagues. Berlusconi is a controversial figure in Italian politics, but there’s no denying his impact on AC Milan.

4. Derby della Madonnina
AC Milan play host to arguably one of the greatest rivalries in European soccer. AC shares its stadium, the San Siro, with the other Milanese top flight team, Inter Milan, and both sides have seen their fair share of success. Matches between the two teams are known as the Derby della Madonnina, named for the statue of the Virgin Mary that tops the famous Milan Cathedral. It’s one of the only derbies in soccer always played in the same stadium. Thanks to the rich history of both clubs this is always a grudge match for the ages.

3. Cool Jerseys and a Cooler Nickname
The red and black striped shirts of AC Milan are well known, but the reasoning behind the colors might surprise you. Red was chosen to represent the passion the players show on the pitch while the black is meant to symbolize the fear they want to strike into the hearts of their opponents. These colors also led to the squad earning one of the most intimidating nicknames in football, il Diavolo (or the Devil).

2. Legendary Players
A team as successful as AC Milan is obviously going to have loads of great players throughout its history. But you might not know that they’re among the teams that have produced some of the most Ballon d’Or winners in pro soccer. A total of eight players from the Rossoneri have won the title, tying them with Juventus for the third most all-time.

1. One of the most successful teams in Europe
AC Milan is one of the most successful teams of all time with 18 titles that are recognized by both UEFA and FIFA. Among these honors the Rossoneri are the second most successful club in the UEFA Champions League with seven titles, behind only Real Madrid’s 12. On top of this AC Milan are the second most successful Italian team domestically with 18 league championships, tying them with their local rivals, Inter Milan. It’s hard not to want to be on the winning side.

AC Milan was founded in 1899 and in its more than 115 year history countless incredible players have worn the revered red-and-black jersey. With seven Champions Leagues and 18 league titles there’s no shortage of talent to be found in the history of the San Siro.

It’s no small task, but World Soccer Shop has looked through more than a century of Milan soccer and tried to narrow it down to 10 of the club’s most legendary players. There’s no particular order to the list but all of them are storied soccer stars in their own right.

Paolo Maldini (1985-2009) – AC Milan Jersey #3
Maldini is a true Milan legend. He is regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time, and he spent his entire 24-year career with AC Milan from 1985 to 2009. Maldini helped lead Milan to seven league titles in the Serie A and an astounding five Champions League titles. This was in addition to the 2002/03 Coppa Italia. Nicknamed “Il Capitano” for his excellent leadership, he captained both Milan and the Italian national team for years. Today he continues to compete as a professional tennis player and is also a co-owner of Miami FC of the North American Soccer League. He is one of only two players to have their numbers retired.

Clarence Seedorf (2002-2012) - AC Milan Jersey #10
Clarence Seedorf has experienced success with number of legendary clubs, but is best known for his decade long career at AC Milan. He is the only player to win the Champions League with three different clubs, once with Ajax and Real Madrid, and twice with AC Milan. Respected for his versatility on both offense and defense, Seedorf established a strong presence in the midfield wherever he went. On top of his Champions League titles he won the Serie A with Milan in 2003/04 and 2010/11 season. He also secured the Coppa Italia in 2002/03, the first time the club had won the domestic tournament in 26 years.

Kaka (2003-2009, 2013-2014) - AC Milan Jersey #22
Kaka experienced the greatest stretch of his career while at Milan from 2003 to 2009. The Brazilian midfield maestro quickly became a staple of Milan’s starting XI when he was signed from Brazilian club São Paulo FC in 2003 for what Milan’s owner described as “peanuts.” In 2007 Kaka was named FIFA World Player of the Year, Serie A Player of the Year, and earned the Ballon d’Or for his accomplishments with the club. While playing with the Rossoneri he was part of a league winning team in the 2003/04 season and won a Champions League title in 2006/07.

Franco Baresi (1977-1997) - AC Milan Jersey #6
Baresi was primarily utilized as a sweeper and center back and is considered one of the best defenders in the history of the sport. He spent all of his 20 year career at Milan from 1977 to 1997. It was here that he was a crucial part of six different league title squads and an additional three Champions League winning teams. Baresi was also a vital member of the Italian national team that won the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Along with fellow defender Paolo Maldini, he is one of two numbers retired by the club.

Marco van Basten (1987- 1995) - AC Milan Jersey #9
Marco van Basten played for Milan from 1987 to 1995 and his time there cemented his place as one of the best forwards in soccer. Not only was he well known for his excellent finishing abilities, he also possessed terrific vision and was just as good at passing as he was at scoring. In 1992 he was named the FIFA World Player of the Year and he won the Ballon d’Or three times in 1988, 1989, and 1992. He was part of four league winning teams also earned two Champions League titles. Sadly, van Basten’s career was cut short due to ankle injuries and he played his last match in 1993 before retiring in 1995.

Andrea Pirlo (2001-2011) - AC Milan Jersey #21
Midfield wizard Andrea Pirlo spent a decade at AC Milan from 2001 to 2011 and saw great success with the Rossoneri. Pirlo was known as a deep-lying playmaker that could launch in perfect passes, and he was also a free-kick specialists with lethal accuracy from long-range. Pirlo was a fixture on two Serie A winning sides in the 2003/04 and 2010/11 seasons as well as the Coppa Italia winning squad of 2002-03. He also won two Champions League titles while at Milan in the 2002/03 and 2006/07 campaigns.

Andriy Shevchenko (1999-2006) - AC Milan Jersey #7
Andriy Shevchenko was a prolific goal-scorer with Milan from 1999 to 2006. He scored 175 goals with the club, making him the team’s second highest goal scorer. Shevchenko helped lead the team to its sixth Champions League title in 2003, and he won the Ballon d’Or while playing with the red-and-black in 2004. He is also the all-time top scorer in the Milan derby (fought against Inter Milan) with 14 goals. Shevchenko is also the leading goal scorer for the Ukrainian national team, and he took over managing duties for his home country in 2016.

Gunnar Nordhal (1949-1956) - AC Milan Jersey #9
Nordhal is the all-time leading scorer for AC Milan with 221 goals in 268 games between 1949 and 1956. He was a strong and physically imposing striker that was the top scorer in the Serie A for five different seasons, more than any other player in the league’s history. Nordahl is thought of as one of the greatest Swedish players ever and one of the best strikers soccer has ever seen.

Gianni Rivera (1960-1979) - AC Milan Jersey #10
Rivera played at AC Milan for 19 years from 1960 to 1979 and scored 122 goals, making him the clubs third highest scorer. He was a brilliant attacking midfielder that was famous for his playmaking and elegant style. Rivera was considered Italy’s “Golden Boy” during his playing days and won three league titles and two Champions Leagues with Milan. He was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1969. After his retirement from pro soccer Rivera went on to become a prominent Italian politician.

Ruud Gullit (1987-1993, 1994) - AC Milan Jersey #10
Dutch midfielder Ruud Gullit was just as famous for his dreadlocks as for his impeccable play. He was brought on for what was a world record transfer fee in 1987 and immediately made an impact, going on to win the Ballon d’Or that same year. Gullit was part of the unstoppable trio that included fellow Dutchmen Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard that brought the team three league titles and two Champions Leagues.

Thanks to its impressive seven Champions League titles and another 18 league titles AC Milan’s iconic red and black striped jersey is one of the most famous in soccer. In the 1981/82 season the club began allowing corporate sponsors on its kits, and Milan has sported 9 different sponsors on the front of their jersey. World Soccer Shop wants to explore the history behind the names worn by this amazing team.

The first may also be the most interesting of the bunch. It’s easy to laugh now, but in 1981 Milan probably didn’t consider what the English speaking world would think of its sponsor, Pooh Jeans. The kit has gone down as one of the more interesting in football history and didn’t last beyond 1982.

After the infamous Pooh Jeans kit Milan flirted with Hitachi and Cuore (Italian for “heart”) for the 82/83 and 83/84 seasons.

From 1985 to 1987 the team was sponsored by Fotorex U-Bix, an office equipment supplier, before it would move on to more successful deals under new ownership.

AC Milan’s longest sponsorship was with Opel. The German car manufacturer sponsored AC Milan for 22 years from 1994 to 2006. In the Opel era the red-and-black won the Serie A on four occasions and took home its sixth Champions League trophy in 2002/03. This season was also the last time Milan won the Coppa Italia.

While the Opel years were good, arguably the most successful years of the team’s history came in the late 1980s and early ’90s. During this time there were two notable sponsors. Mediolanum, an Italian financial services company, had the jerseys from 1987 to 1992 and Motto, a Milanese ice cream and confectionary company, were the sponsor from 1992 to 1994.

The Mediolanum years were some of Milan’s best in European soccer as the team won back-to-back Champions Leagues in 1988/89 and 1989/90 campaigns. The club also won the Serie A twice. The success continued with Motta and Milan won the league both seasons it was the sponsor. In its final year with Motta the team won its fifth Champions League title.

After Milan’s long run with Opel ended Bwin took over as the sponsor in 2006. In its first year with the Bwin shirts Milan won its seventh Champions League. Despite its European success Milan failed to when the league under the Bwin sponsorship.

The team moved to the Fly Emirates jerseys in the 2010/11 season and won the Serie A for the 18th time that same season. Emirates continues to adorn the legendary jersey today as AC Milan looks to recapture its former glory.