On This Day: Marco Van Basten Scores THAT Goal In Euro 1988 Final

This is one of the most famous goals in the history of football
08:00, 25 Jun 2023

On 31 October 1964, Marco van Basten was born. The Netherlands icon shares his birthday with Halloween, a holiday that celebrates the supernatural. In Van Basten’s case, his footballing capabilities were exactly that and he is rightly regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

Today marks the 35th anniversary of his most famous goal, a stunning strike that seems to get better each time you watch it. Of course it’s his outrageous volley against the Soviet Union to win the Netherlands the 1988 European Championship, their only major honour to date. The goal was a beauty from start to finish.

Arnold Muhren’s cross from the left seemed to float in the air for a long time before dropping down to Van Basten at the far post. It came down invitingly for the striker wide out beyond the far post, and without hesitation he adjusted his body as the ball dropped over his shoulder before striking the cleanest of hits you’ll see. The ball sailed across Rinat Dasayev and right into the top-left corner.


Those in the stadium and the millions watching around the world couldn’t believe what they’d just seen. Netherlands boss Rinus Michels was completely stunned as he leapt up from the bench and simply put his hands on his head after witnessing first hand one of the best goals ever scored.

It was a goal worthy of winning any game of football across any era. And the fact it was done in one of the greatest kits ever seen just made it that much better.

Van Basten played an integral role in that final more than three decades ago, just as he did for all of the teams he played for in his marvellous yet short-lived career. The towering striker was as graceful as anyone ever to play the beautiful game. So much so that his nickname was the ‘Swan of Utrecht’.

The Dutch icon left a lasting impression on the beautiful game and his talent still blows minds today. The game has evolved, pitches have improved and yet we still marvel at Van Basten’s talent. It was such a shame that he was forced to retire at 26 due to the significant damage sustained to his knees. The world was denied more glorious moments from the forward, but the legacy he has despite this shows just how revered he is around the world.

Even Diego Maradona was blown away by Van Basten's talent
Even Diego Maradona was blown away by Van Basten's talent

Footballing legends across different generations have always had great things to say about the Dutchman who helped revolutionise the beautiful game.

“It’s such a shame Van Basten’s career was curtailed by injury. What did he have that I didn’t? Touch, skill - and he scored goals as well. He was just such a wonderful, gifted, well-balanced footballer.” - Gary Lineker

“Marco was able to score goals from impossible positions, such as that amazing volley in Euro 88 against the Soviet Union. He had all the qualities for a perfect striker, and his technique made him very hard to stop in the box. His movement was also good. He was a nightmare for defenders.” Gheorghe Hagi

“Injuries cut him down when he was in the best form of his career, spearheading Fabio Capello’s new and rejuvenated Milan side. Yet by then, Marco had already done enough to perhaps be regarded as the greatest number nine there’s ever been. People always talk about his strike against the Soviet Union in the 1988 European Championship final, and yes, it was a great goal, but Marco scored even better goals, for both Ajax and AC Milan.” - Ronald Koeman

“I think he was excellent. I just did everything I could to give him the ball as much as possible.” - Ruud Gullit

“There will never be a player like Van Basten ever again.” - Ruud van Nistelrooy

“I used to play with Marco van Basten at Milan. I asked him how we should give the ball to him. He said, “Just pass it, and then start running to congratulate me”. He always thought he would score, and he was usually right.” - Carlo Ancelotti

“Marco was the greatest centre forward that I’ve ever trained, he was a swan. Marco remains the greatest in his role. It was such a shame that he was forced to retire at 28. It was a mortal misfortune for him, for football, and for Milan.” - Fabio Capello

“I still remember the first time I saw him. It was in the dressing room from Ajax. He was there for an internship to become a coach. The moment he walked in I did not know what to say. In the period I was at Ajax I got to know him better. He was a nice person, a real striker.” - Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“It is between Romário and Van Basten.” - Diego Maradona on the best player he ever saw.

“Oh yes. Right foot. Left foot. Heading, so strong, fast. He could score, he could pass the ball. He was the best. The way he played was timeless.” - Paolo Maldini

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