Van Basten himself was one of the best strikers in the world across the 1980s, scoring at nearly a goal a game for Ajax before winning three European Cups with AC Milan.
His most memorable goal was scored for the Netherlands in the World Cup, a stunning volley during the Euro 1988 final against the Soviet Union.
For Ajax, he netted an incredible scissor kick goal from the edge of the area during an Eredivisie fixture against Den Bosch in 1986.
But his playing career was cut short due to an ankle injury, with his final professional game being the 1993 Champions League final defeat to Marseille at the age of 28.
AI shows what Lionel Messi would sound like if he spoke English (Javifernandez via X)This is what Lionel Messi would sound like if he spoke English.
Since retirement, Van Basten managed the Netherlands, Ajax and Heerenveen, before taking up a position at FIFA as a technical director.
Last year, in an interview with France Football, the Dutch legend named his top three greatest players of all time – and explained why he opted against including Messi.
He said: “Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff are, for me, the three greatest players in history.
“As a child, I wanted to be like Cruyff. He was my friend. I miss him. Pele and Maradona were also incredible.
“Messi is also a magnificent player, but Maradona has always had more personality in a team. Messi is not the one who gets in front to go to war.”
Messi’s subsequent leading role in Argentina’s World Cup win last year might contradict Van Basten’s view, but the former striker named three other players who he believes are in the GOAT conversation.
“I don’t forget Cristiano Ronaldo, Michel Platini or Zinedine Zidane,” he commented.
In 1989, France Football launched the ‘Super Ballon d’Or’, which crowned the best player in history. It was only open to European players, and was won by Alfredo Di Stefano, who held Spanish citizenship through his legendary time at Real Madrid.
In 2022, a fan calculated who would win a worldwide ‘Super Ballon d’Or’ today – and Messi came out on top, beating Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldo Nazario.