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Rafa Leao up next? 6 AC Milan greats to rock the legendary No.10 shirt

Rafa Leao up next? 6 AC Milan greats to rock the legendary No.10 shirt
Image credits: Rafael Leao / AC Milan

Rafael Leao has has been named as the heir of AC Milan's number 10 shirt, after it was vacated by Brahim Diaz, who returned to Real Madrid following his loan spell.

As a result, the Portuguese forward joins a list of notable names that have rocked the legendary number for the Rossoneri, just a month after he extended his contract with Milan until 2028, cementing his place as the club's star man.

Here's a quick look at the most prominent players to have worn the shirt for the historic club.

Nils Liedholm

Known as one of the greatest trequartistas or attacking midfielders in Milan's history, the Swede formed an integral part of the Rossoneri's attack from 1941 till 1961.

During that period, Milan won the Scudetto on four occasions, and was vital during one of the club's most successful periods in history.

After leaving in 1961, he then went on to return as manager in the 70s, winning another Serie A title in 1978/79. He was consequently named in Milan's Hall of Fame, and is safely a Rossoneri legend.

Gianni Rivera

Rafa Leao up next? 6 AC Milan greats to rock the legendary No.10 shirt
Image credits: Gianni Rivera / AC Milan

Undoubtedly a genius on the ball, Rivera was a sensational player for Milan, despite his small size.

He was a regular in the title-winning 1961/62 title-winning season, being a great successor to Liedholm, with manager Nereo Rocco building a team around Rivera, before naming him captain at just 23.

Rivera then went on to lead Milan to winning the European Cup twice, another two Serie A titles, four Coppa Italias, as well as two UEFA Cup Winners' Cups and an Intercontinental Cup.

Once he retired, he had racked up 658 appearances for the club, and is without a doubt one of Milan's best ever players.

Ruud Gullit

Rafa Leao up next? 6 AC Milan greats to rock the legendary No.10 shirt
Ruud Gullit / AC Milan

Milan's teams in the 1980s were filled with absolute stars, with particular Dutch influence through Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, and of course, Gullit.

Signed from PSV Eindhoven for a world record fee at the time, and he pushed the Rossoneri to immediate success, as they won the title for the first time in nine years in 1988.

Milan then won the European Cup in 1989 after Gullit scored a brace in a 4-0 win over Steaua Bucharest, and they went on to defend the title a year later as they beat Benfica in the 1990 final, a game Gullit was crucial in. A sensational midfielder that was extremely influential for Milan during his seven years at the club.

Carlo Ancelotti

Rafa Leao up next? 6 AC Milan greats to rock the legendary No.10 shirt
Image credits: Carlo Ancelotti / UEFA

The Italian is probably best known for being the most decorated manager in UEFA Champions League history, and most likely one of the best Milan managers to have ever led the club.

However, he was also an incredible midfielder for the club during his time as a player.

Ancelotti could practically do it all, either tracking back to defend, while also dictating the play with a certain sense of ease. Forming part of a side that also featured Gullit, the Italian midfielder had a hugely successful career at the San Siro, before recurring knee issues forced him to retire in 1992.

He returned as manager in 2001, and the rest is history...

Roberto Donadoni

Joining Milan from Atalanta in 1986 as more of an unknown quantity, Donadoni became a huge figure for the Rossoneri during the aforementioned successful 80s and early 90s.

During his 10 years at Milan, he won an incredible six Serie A titles and three European Cups, featuring in more than 250 games for the club spread over two spells, with his blistering speed and stunning dribbling often leaving defenders mesmerised.

Clarence Seedorf

Rafa Leao up next? 6 AC Milan greats to rock the legendary No.10 shirt
Image credits: Clarence Seedorf / UEFA

Yet another Dutchman to make the list, Seedorf was one of the most underappreciated midfielders to ever feature in a Milan shirt, especially given he was next to the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, and Kaka, all players who often stole the spotlight.

Seedorf became a Milan player after joining from bitter rivals Inter, at a time when he had already established himself as a football great, known for his nonstop work-ethic and gracefulness on the ball.

During his ten years at the club, he won two Serie A titles, together with two UEFA Champions Leagues, amassing a total of 432 games for the club. To this day, he is still the only player in football history to have won the Champions League with three clubs (Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan).

Following his departure in 2012, he returned to briefly manage the Rossoneri, yet he was dismissed just four months into the job, despite gaining a total of 35 out of a possible 57 points.


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