Marco van Basten is number 19 in 90min's Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series
You might not have noticed, but there have been some pretty good goalscorers over the years.
Getting the ball into the back of the net is a real art form. There's hundreds of different ways to score a goal, and it just so happened that Marco van Basten managed to perfect each and every one of them.
Injury may have ended his career sooner than anyone wanted, but by the time he left the sport, Van Basten had made the kind of impact which most players can only dream of.
After spending his youth career with Elinkwijk in Utrecht, Van Basten was spotted by Dutch giants Ajax as a 16-year-old. They took both Marco and brother Stanley on trial in 1981, but only Marco made the final cut.
He was handed his debut in April 1982 against NEC Nijmegen, and he immediately caught the eye by scoring. That set the tone for what was to come.
Despite being only 17 years old at the time, Ajax were confident that Van Basten was good enough to be part of their squad. The dominant Wim Kieft was deservedly ahead of him in the pecking order, but Van Basten still managed nine goals in 20 appearances. The kid could play.
“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.”
Van Basten bagged 125 goals in 201 appearances for I Rossoneri, while that goalscoring also continued at international level. He led the Netherlands to glory at Euro 1988 and was certainly unfortunate not to add more trophies to his collection.
Unfortunately, Van Basten's on-field greatness was taken away from us far too soon. That ankle injury which plagued his debut season in Milan would not go away, and it flared its ugly head once more in December 1992.
Van Basten needed surgery, but he did manage to return for three games late in the season. However, they would be the final three games he ever played.
He needed yet another surgery after aggravating the issue, and he was unable to play in either the 1993/94 or 1994/95 campaigns as a result. After accepting defeat, Van Basten called time on his playing career in August 1995, having played his final game over two years earlier at the age of just 28.
His career may have been cut short, but Van Basten's playing legacy was never tarnished. Touted as one of the greatest strikers the game has ever seen, any young Dutchman is always compared to him, while strikers around the world all aspire to match his goal tally.
It's not as if Van Basten needed more time to win even more - his trophy cabinet was already overflowing - but you can't help but wonder what could have been.
90min's 'Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time' can be found here.
Number 50: Luka Modric
Number 49: John Charles
Number 48: Hugo Sanchez
Number 47: Jairzinho
Number 46: Omar Sivori
Number 45: Paolo Rossi
Number 44: Paul Breitner
Number 43: George Weah
Number 42: Kaka
Number 41: Lev Yashin
Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl
Number 39: Kevin Keegan
Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov
Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon
Number 36: Johan Neeskens
Number 35: Xavi Hernandez
Number 34: Luis Suarez
Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Number 32: Andres Iniesta
Number 31: Rivelino
Number 30: Bobby Moore
Number 29: Socrates
Number 28: Sandor Kocsis
Number 27: Lothar Matthaus
Number 26: Ronaldinho
Number 25: Ruud Gullit
Number 24: Bobby Charlton
Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza
Number 22: Raymond Kopa
Number 21: Romario
Number 20: Eusebio