How many times have AC Milan won the Champions League?

AC Milan stand alone when it comes to Champions League success among Serie A clubs, but just how many times have the Rossoneri lifted the famous trophy?

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As one of the big three in Italy, AC Milan have an impressive pedigree in domestic football, but it is their record in the Champions League that makes them one of the powerhouses of the world game.

The Rossoneri have won the Serie A title 19 times, equal second with city rivals Inter, and they have won the Coppa Italia on five occasions. However, no Italian club can match what they have achieved in the Champions League, emerging victorious no less than seven times. Only Spanish giants Real Madrid have more victories with 14.

Milan were Italy’s first entrant when they participated in the inaugural European Cup in 1955/56, reaching the semi-finals and losing out to Los Blancos, who went on to win the first five editions of the competition. The Spaniards would defeat the Rossoneri 3-2 in the 1958 final, but the arrival of Italo-Brazilian striker Jose Altafini in 1958 and the appointment of Nereo Rocco as coach in 1961 proved to be decisive moves.

Rocco leads AC Milan to early European success

In Rocco’s first season as AC Milan coach, he led the club to the 1961/62 Serie A title, and then his Rossoneri team went on to win the 1963 European Cup final 2-1 against Portuguese giants Benfica. Altafini finished that season as the leading goalscorer in the competition with 14 goals while Italian playmaker Gianni Rivera was also a key player at only 18 years of age.

The Milanese club reached the 1969 final against Ajax, who had a young star in Johan Cruijff, and they defeated the Dutch giants 4-1 with Rivera lifting the trophy as captain. The Italian midfielder retired in 1979, Milan were relegated from Serie A in 1980 for their involvement in the Totonero scandal, and the Rossoneri were at risk of going bankrupt.

Berlusconi and Sacchi revolutionise AC Milan

Silvio Berlusconi acquired the club in 1986 and he spared no expense, purchasing Italian players like Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Donadoni, as well as Dutch internationals Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, and Frank Rijkaard.

The appointment of an unknown coach called Arrigo Sacchi in 1987 initially raised eyebrows, but he would lead AC Milan to the scudetto in his first season, and then win back-to-back European Cups in 1989/90. His use of a flat back four, the offside trap, and pressing tactics was against the norm in Italy at that time, but the greatness of that team prompted a move away from the dated and defensive catenaccio approach.

Afterwards, his replacement Fabio Capello led the Rossoneri to victory in 1994, the first in the Champions League era.

When did AC Milan win the Champions League under Ancelotti?

Ronaldo Nazario and Carlo Ancelotti. (@acmilan)

Ancelotti retired as a player in 1992, and had coached Reggiana, Parma, and Juventus before returning to AC Milan as coach in 2001. When he arrived, his former teammate Paolo Maldini was still playing and he became the captain after legendary defender Franco Baresi retired in 1997.

Under the former midfielder, the Rossoneri would win the 2003 Champions League against Italian rivals Juventus, and then defeat Liverpool in 2007, two years after losing a dramatic final against the Reds. In that era, there were many other great players such as Cafu, Alessandro Nesta, Kaka, and Andriy Shevchenko.

After that, the closest they have come to reaching the final was in 2022/23, when they were eliminated by Inter in the semi-finals. Berlusconi sold the club in 2017 and passed away in June this year, while the ownership has changed multiple times since his sale.

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