- See here for other entries in this series – at the time of writing, there’s only a Republic of Ireland one but if you’re checking back later it should be more populated thanks to the genius of WordPress categorising
In 1995, Serie A introduced squad numbering and this was the Milan squad that would go on to win the Scudetto – the sixth and last in Franco Baresi’s career.
If you’re wondering why goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi has a different shirt to the others, he wore a Lotto-badged top made by his glove manufacturer, Uhlsport.
Note how, in contrast to nowadays, Lega Calcio didn’t allow any gaps, meaning nobody could wear a number in the 80s or 90s.
While there are a few odd number choices there, by and large those in the first 11 have digits conforming to their positions – certainly, the list made more sense than the numbers of the Milan squad in the video game FIFA 96, released at the end of September 1995.
This was the first instalment of FIFA to feature real player names but the squads were those of 1994-95 – sadly the inclusion of Marco van Basten was anachronistic as he hadn’t played since Milan’s 1993 Champions League final defeat to Marseille. Why Marcel Desailly was number 10 with nobody assigned 8 is a mystery.
Van Basten’s number 12 gave a clue as to the basis of some of the other choices – it was what the striker had worn in helping his country win Euro 88 and most of the Italian players’ numbers matched up to those worn for their country at the 1994 World Cup in the USA.
The Italy squad that finish runners-up to Brazil featured seven Milan players and the Champions League group game with Anderlecht in March of 1994 gave an example where the half-dozen all played and wore the numbers most associated with them (the rest of the team was 1. Rossi, 8. Desailly, 9. Marco Simone, 10. Brian Laudrup):
Come the World Cup, four of those numbers would feature on the backs of Milan player but only one – Baresi, captain of club and country – had the same one of the Azzurri as for the Rossoneri. Apart from Massaro, these were the numbers applied to these players in the Milan roster for FIFA 96.
The reason, of course, lies in the fact that Italy used to employ a block-numbering system at major finals – in this instance, defenders 2-9, midfielders 10-17 (excluding 12, which was kept aside for a goalkeeper along with 1 and 22) and strikers 18-21, with each block arranged alphabetically by surname.
Even then, however, there were exceptions. Baresi, number 2 at Italia 90, should have been 3 here with Costacurta 5 and Maldini 6 but the skipper was allowed his favoured 6. Roberto Baggio was seemingly classified as a midfielder and also permitted to swap places in the order with Albertini. The 1998 World Cup was the last time Italy used such a system.
Come 1995-96 and Serie A introducing squad numbers, Massaro had departed Milan while Tassotti had been superseded as first-choice right-back by Christian Panucci, who was given number 2. Costacurta’s choice of number 29 was the strangest, but that’s another story.