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Rossoneri Advent Calendar Day 18: Christian Abbiati and the Lifetime Service

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31 Days Remembering Players From Milan’s Past, Each Date Will Feature A Player Who Donned The Jersey Number.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group C - Real Madrid v AC Milan Photo by Mike Egerton/EMPICS via Getty Images

Christian Abbiati played for AC Milan for 18 years and was a true servant of the red and black colours. The Italy international faced fierce competition as the club and national levels but still emerged as a leader for Milan and one who was indispensable in the 2010-11 Scudetto campaign and was a big contributor to the 2003 Champions League victory.

Christian Abbiati of AC Milan celebrates AC Milan’s goal Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Abbiati held the starting spot for Milan for about four years when he joined the club taking over from the revered Sebastiano Rossi, he managed to help Milan to a Scudetto in his first season and dominated at the position until Dida's emergence in 2002-2003. Abbiati notably holds the record for most appearances by a goalkeeper for AC Milan with 380 games under his belt. His career just under two decades with the Rossoneri was he often quietly delivered at the highest level and won the hearts of the Milanisti to become a true cult hero at the club. His hero status arose from his ferocity when facing Milan's rivals and his ability to lead the locker room. He silently endured his time as a bench warmer only to re-emerge as Milan's starting goalkeeper in 2010-11 when Milan recaptured the Scudetto with veteran Abbiati between the sticks, he would go on to hold down the position until the arrival of Diego Lopez in 2014. He did manage to wear the Captain's armband and lead Milan during the club's dark years and help bring some calm to a tumultuous time.

Achievements with Milan

  • Serie A: 1998–99, 2003–04, 2010–11
  • UEFA Champions League: 2002–03
  • Coppa Italia: 2002–03
  • Supercoppa Italiana: 2004, 2011
  • UEFA Super Cup: 2003

Top Highlight

Abbiati made a number of key saves for Milan but his highlights were always his celebration when Milan scored crucial goals. In particular, his celebration against the Inter Milan fans during the 2002-03 Champions League semi finals was an iconic image demonstrating the passion of the shot stopper. Watch his highlights here or below.