Unbelievable! He won the Ballon d'Or, but retired the following season!
Sadly, Marco van Basten's career ended at the age of 28.
Before Ronaldo Nazario, Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, there was a player who was destined to become one of the best strikers in history. We are talking about the Dutch Marco Van Basten. Although it is undeniable that this player achieved impressive feats, the truth is that he could not show his full potential. And it was all due to an injury that ended his sports career forever.
In 1992, Marco van Basten won his third Ballon d'Or at just 28 years of age. He was the best player in the world, the star of AC Milan and his goalscoring average was impressive (almost 300 goals in 400 games). But in 1993, everything changed. To put us in context, in March 1986, Marco van Basten injured his right ankle, which was operated on in December. His first season with AC Milan was not the desired one because he only played 10 games. But as soon as he recovered, he became the star of his team.
In the first seasons, his right ankle did not cause pain. But in 1992, the ailments began to become more and more frequent until they became unbearable. The decision was obvious, a new surgery. At the end of 1992, and after winning his third Ballon d'Or, Marco went back to the operating room to operate on his right ankle. The recovery time was supposed to be only 4 weeks, but sadly, those 4 weeks turned into 5 months. He returned to play in May 1993, but the pain was still there. However, his team was a finalist in the UEFA Champions League (against Olympique de Marseille) and he had to play. To ease the pain, he received injections.
During the match, it was clear that Marco van Basten was not playing at 100% of his abilities but despite that, coach Fabio Capello keep him on the court. Unfortunately, in the 85th minute, he was finally substituted. In the end, Marseille won 1-0 and became champions of the tournament. But that was not the worst. No Milanese fan, not even the player himself, would have ever imagined that this match would be the last for the great Marco van Basten.
A month after the final, the player underwent another operation and spent several months recovering. After showing no signs of improvement, the doctor recommended that he wear the Ilizárov brace for three months, a method of last resort to save the player's career. That year he was summoned to play in the 1994 World Cup, but AC Milan refused to let him participate so as not to interfere with his recovery. Sadly, it was of no use since 1995 and after having tried everything, the goal scorer Marco van Basten announced his retirement from football. On August 18, 1995, van Basten said goodbye in front of more than 60,000 spectators who gathered at the San Siro.
"I had a very bad time, I lived in a lot of pain. The doctors did not help me with the treatments and my ankle got worse and worse. I spent a lot of time on the couch, unable to walk, I didn't want people to see me in that state. I got depressed, it was a very dark time. The pain was physical, but obviously, it affected me a lot mentally. I had many years left as a footballer and I couldn't show everything I could have been", lamented van Basten.
In 1996 he underwent an ankle fixation to finally stop the pain. In 2003 he returned to football as a coach. Although he failed to win any titles, he managed four teams until 2014, including the Netherlands national team and Ajax.
"At least I had 10 years of a beautiful experience, that changed my life forever."