When I started these legend posts I really didn’t anticipate the appreciation for them, and the comments and emails to keep them going. I am going to do my best to use the weekend for legend posts at least during the off-season. As always I want to hear who we should honor next.
The next player to be showcased is not going to rank in the elite players in the history of the game, or even the top defenders, but I will say it is extremely difficult to not rank Alessandro “Billy” Costacurta in the top five Milan defenders of all time, and cement him in his place in Milan folklore. We all know the honors, trophies, and achievements that Billy was able to achieve, but sometimes a player goes beyond those accolades and achieves things with the whole of the team that far outweigh any singular accomplishments, and Costacurta was no exception.
I am not going to sit here and list his honors and achievements, because by know we all know the great teams he was a part of. Most of even know that he played right back for and center right back for some of the most legendary defenses in the history game, but for me Billy goes beyond that. It was 2003 and I was sitting with a friend of mine in college to watch Milan – Juventus for the CL final. As I began describe the Rossoneri to my friend I paused and admired Billy for all that he had accomplished at this age and that even at 37 years old he was playing in a Champions League Final. Maldini is well renowned for his ability to defy the aging process but Costacurta was no slouch himself. Making 458 appearances for Milan and retiring at 41 years old.
What I find even more impressive is that this man was replaced by a legend in his own right, Cafu, and it is only fitting that a player with such a history be replaced by another player with his own legacy. Billy has done it all in the Rossoneri and he did it all in manner that exuded professionalism and character during his whole career. Sure he wasn’t the flashiest player or most dazzling, but when the game counting there was not a more precise defender who did things effortlessly in cooperation with his legendary backline mates.
Billy has recently passed his coaching exams and is assisting the Milan system this season after turning down the coaching job for Pisa. Part of me is glad he did, because like the legends before I would gladly welcome him to roam the sidelines of the Rossoneri when he was ready to take the helm. As you can see, Costacurta went way beyond the 5 CL trophies, seven scudetti, and countless appearances. He was a player, who like the rest of the defense not only represented Milan but transcended into the stuff of legends.
Now if someone can just tell me where the nickname Billy came from?