Today is Marco van Basten’s 53rd birthday so, to celebrate, we thought we’d feature the fateful day on which the skilful, refined Dutch striker came face to face with his footballing polar opposite: hugely eccentric, semi-insane Colombian goalkeeper/wet-look perm aficionado Rene Higuita.
The meeting came in 1989 when AC Milan, winners of the European Cup, took on Atletico Nacional of Medellin, champions of the Copa Libertadores, in the Intercontinental Cup.
The match took place in Tokyo’s National Stadium and was rebranded as the ‘Toyota Cup’ for the occasion.
The Rossoneri’s starting line-up was chock full of big names of the era: Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Donadoni, Frank Rijkaard, Carlo Ancelotti, et al.
As well as Higuita, Nacional’s backline also boasted Andres Escobar, whose name would soon become known right around the world for the most tragic of reasons.
The following video is basically eight minutes that detail Van Basten’s every silken touch, every involvement in play and every confrontation with Higuita who, in fairness, managed to keep Milan at bay despite his incredibly loose approach to handling and to goalkeeping in general…
The match finished goalless after 90 minutes, with Milan eventually sneaking a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal scored by man of the match Alberigo Evani in the final minute of extra time.
All that was left was to lift the trophy.
The Intercontinental Cup was just one of many honours claimed by Milan between the mid 1980s and the mid 1990s, with five Scudettos, four Italian Supercoppas, three European Cups and a UEFA Super Cup all being won between 1987 and 1996.