Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Families in Football’ series. Over the next few weeks, we take a look at siblings, cousins and even parents and children that have played the beautiful game. Some have played cup finals together while others have been on opposing sides. Today, we look at Giuseppe and Franco Baresi.
Families in Football: Giuseppe and Franco Baresi
Maybe not as well known as younger brother Franco, Giuseppe Baresi is also a name to be revered. He was first picked up by Inter Milan as a youngster and went on to make his professional debut for them in the 1977 Coppa Italia, playing in a 1-0 victory over Juventus. It would be the start of a positive career with the capital club and in 1988, he became the captain. The versatile player spent a total of 16 seasons at the San Siro.
He played an impressive 559 matches in total across all competitions in Europe and Italy, of which 392 were games in Serie A. Baresi was a tenacious player and played across the backline as a full-back, centre-back and was also comfortable with the ball and could play as a defensive midfielder when called upon to do so. His versatility made him a huge asset throughout his time with Inter and his stamina was often talked about as he never seemed to run out of energy.
With Inter he had a trophy-laden career, winning two Serie A titles two Copa Italia’s, one Supercoppa Italiana and one UEFA Cup.
Giuseppe went on to play for two seasons with Serie B club Modena until he eventually hung up his boots in 1994 at the age of 34.
At international level, however, the elder of the two Baresi brothers never quite had the success or recognition that many felt he deserved. He only played 18 times for the Azzurri between 1979 and 1986 and it was a part of his career that never reached the heights of his club career.
In England, there have been brothers that played together at international level, such as Sir Bobby and Jack Charlton, and those that played at both club and international level such as Gary and Phil Neville, but in Italy, the Baresi brothers took competitive brotherly love to a whole new level. Giuseppe played for Inter but for Franco he was on the other side of the San Siro playing for AC Milan, where he spent his entire career, captaining the club for 15 of his 20 years.
As with Giuseppe at Inter, Franco began at Milan as a youth player and made his Serie A debut at the tender age of just 17. In the 1978/70 Serie A season, Franco played as a centre-back but more often as a cultured sweeper, and helped Milan win the title. His talent was there for all to see with a calmness and versatility that would see him considered as one of the greatest defenders of all time.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Franco at Milan and he played through what became a torturous period for the red and black side of the capital club. The Rossoneri were relegated twice to Serie B during the 1980s and shamed following a match-fixing scandal at the start of the decade. Playing in Serie B was no place for such a talented player but he refused to move and remained with the club. This was despite his stick having further risen after being part of the 1982 national side that claimed the World Cup.
By 1982, Milan were back in Serie A and Franco was made captain at the age of just 22. The late 1980s would see a brighter period for Milan, especially when the Dutch arrived in town in the form of Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten. It was to become the start of a golden era. They won the Serie A title in 1987/88 and Franco helped the team concede a miserly 14 goals; an incredible record for a full season. They then won the European Cup in both 1989 and 1990.
Under Fabio Capello, he would go on to win another four Serie A titles and in the 1991/92 season, they were the ‘untouchables’, winning the title without losing a single game.
In 1993/94, Baresi helped Milan win the European Cup once more and it was a victory that sent shockwaves through world football as they beat Barcelona, who were managed by Johan Cruyff and considered to be football’s dream team.
As with his brother, Franco also played late into his career before hanging his boots up at the age of 37.
Whilst Giuseppe’s international career was far from successful, for Franco Baresi it was more a case of being one of frustration more than anything else. At 22, he was part of the squad for the 1982 World Cup when Italy beat West Germany in the final but he did not play a single game in the tournament. He did feature in the Italy squad at the 1984 Olympic Games and scored a goal against the USA in the group stages but it was to be a disappointing adventure, eventually finishing fourth.
Then, in 1984, he was part of the squad that failed to qualify for the European Championships. He was not selected for the 1986 World Cup squad and only returned to the team for the 1988 Euro’s, where Italy reached the semi-final stage.
He played in the 1990 World Cup, amazingly his first appearance in the tournament as Italy finished third after beating England in the third and fourth place playoff match.
Games Played Together and Against
Giuseppe and Franco Baresi only played five times together and that was at Italy U21 level. Franco netted the only goal in a 1-0 win over Switzerland in a Euro U21 qualifying match.
The brothers faced off against each other 23 times in Milan derbies. There were seven wins for AC, seven draws and nine wins for Inter between 1978 and 1992.
Two brothers both committed to the same stadium but for different clubs with a rivalry as intense as any other. Giuseppe and Franco Baresi were loyal and revered servants of both Inter Milan and AC Milan throughout their distinguished careers. Things could have been different though when as a youngster Franco had a trial at Inter but was considered to be physically weaker than his older brother and therefore it was the other side of the stadium he would eventually begin and enjoy his career at.
Giuseppe’s daughter Regina was also a footballer and played as striker of Inter Women, where she was also the captain.