Silvio Berlusconi's best moments as owner of AC Milan
Silvio Berlusconi On Feb. 20, 1986, an Italian entrepreneur by the name of Silvio Berlusconi acquired AC Milan and saved the club from bankruptcy. Having struggled in the years that preceded his arrival, the club benefited from his passion and significant investment, which in turn helped to usher in a new era of success.
The Rossoneri owner celebrates 30 years in charge on Saturday and having overseen a number of highs and lows, managerial changes and personal controversies along the way, he has described his time at San Siro as "magical."
"We started off aiming for 10 years and for how it's gone, I'd say I've passed with distinction," he said this week in an extensive interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"They've been 30 magical years. We've won more than anyone and won over 363 million supporters around the world. And above all our love for Milan was repaid and filled our hearts with happiness. Our investments in Milan in these 30 years have been more than €1.2 billion."
Although the 79-year-old has come under intense scrutiny from supporters in recent years, there is no denying his love for Milan. While it is now the right time to at least relinquish part of his control, he has played a pivotal part in some of the club's most memorable moments in the last 30 years.
The appointment of Arrigo Sacchi
Burdened with criticism and suggestions that his lack of success as a player meant that he wouldn't be successful as a coach, Sacchi was appointed in 1987 with the backing of Berlusconi.
The Italian tactician went on to lead Milan to a Serie A title in his first season in charge, the club's first domestic triumph in nine years.
Naturally, his tactical genius coupled with the talented players he had at his disposal were integral to that success, but Berlusconi's money funded the rebuild and it was certainly a risky decision at the time.
European Cup triumph in 1989
Picked out by the man himself as his best memory, Berlusconi won't forget the joyous scenes that followed Milan's 4-0 win over Steaua Bucharest in the European Cup final in Barcelona.
Led by the likes of Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit, who scored two goals apiece against the Romanians, it was an emphatic victory for the Rossoneri and Berlusconi was seen celebrating with the players on the pitch after the game.
With Italian football at the height of its powers during that period, Milan were undoubtedly top of the tree as they continued to shine on the European stage.
European Cup final win over Barcelona 1994
Gli Invicibili were in full flow in 1994, as Fabio Capello picked up the reins and led the club on a 58-game unbeaten run.
A team including the likes of Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Roberto Donadoni and Dejan Savicevic were again the dominant force in European football.
However, the odds were stacked against them as Van Basten and Gianluigi Lentini were injured, Baresi and Alessandro Costacurta suspended and they faced the likes of Hristo Stoichkov, Romario -- and a young Pep Guardiola.
It wasn't enough to deny them, though, as Capello's men sealed one of the greatest wins in European Cup history as Berlusconi's continued investment and faith was repaid.
Derby della Madonnina victory in 2001
Meetings between Milan and city rivals Inter are traditionally closer encounters as, generally speaking, the two sides are often separated by the odd goal.
However, the Rossoneri bucked the trend on May 11, 2001 as they set the record for the biggest win in the history of the fixture with a 6-0 triumph at the San Siro.
A brace from Gianni Comandini set them on their way, with Federico Giunti, Serginho and two goals from Andriy Shevchenko securing an emphatic win. While the two Italian giants have since alternated success, it remains the most scarring result for Nerazzurri supporters.
Revenge in Athens in 2007
Two years earlier, Milan had suffered arguably the most damaging loss in their history as they surrendered a 3-0 half-time lead over Liverpool to lose 3-2 on penalties in the Champions League final in Istanbul.
However, they made no mistake in the Olympic Stadium in Athens on May 23, 2007 with Filippo Inzaghi's double helping to seal a staggering seventh European triumph, with Carlo Ancelotti leading a star-studded line-up featuring the likes of Kaka and Andrea Pirlo to further success.
Gradually, things have gone downhill for Berlusconi and Milan in the years that have passed, but with a desire to welcome in new investment coupled with the emphasis being placed on building a new cycle, the wily old Italian will likely stick around to see if the club can overcome their troubles and get back to winning silverware.
Sumeet Paul has written for various websites providing Serie A coverage. He can be found on Twitter @SP_Calcio for all things Italian football.