Some might say that the first ten years of the 21st Century have not been particularly memorable for Milan. The decade could, perhaps, be defined as the one that saw the crown of the most successful club side of the modern age begin to slip.
The Rossoneri have only lifted one scudetto since the year 2000, they were embroiled up to their necks in the Calciopoli scandal, they somehow lost a Champions League final to a vastly inferior Liverpool side despite going in at half-time with a three goal lead and they have just sold their best attacking player to Real Madrid, even though he made it perfectly clear that he didn't want to go.
But, while city rivals Inter have dominated domestically, Milan have continued to shine on the European stage. Two Champions League titles, two UEFA Super Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup isn't a bad return for a team supposedly going downhill.
Christian Abbiati (1998-2005) (2008-)
To include a goalkeeper who has never even established himself as the club's number one might seem a little absurd but the 31-year-old fascist sympathiser is the best of a pretty unconvincing trio. When all you have is Dida and Kalac for competition, it's pretty inevitable that you will come out on top. Abbiati made his debut in Serie A in 1999 and became Milan's first choice between the posts for four years, until he lost his starting spot to the aforementioned Dida early in the 2002-2003 campaign. Loan spells with Juventus, Torino and Atletico Madrid allowed the disastrous Brazilian to step up to the plate and promptly start dropping the ball. Over and over again.
Not so much a right-back as a nuclear powered high speed intercontinental super train with a grin on its face. One of six children, Marcos Evangelista de Moraes grew up in the broken alleys of a Sao Paolo shanty town and soon realised that football was going to be his only way out. 'Il Pendolino ' didn't arrive in Italy until he was 27-years-old. Six relentlessly impressive seasons with Roma were followed by five almost as consistent years at the San Siro and Cafu was able to retire safe in the knowledge that there has not been a better right-sided wing-back anywhere in the world in the last ten years.
Alessandro Nesta (2002-)
Probably the most cultured central defender of the century so far, Nesta has exuded an unflappable air of calm assurance ever since he joined the Rossoneri from Lazio in 2002. And, while injury and personal misfortune have blighted his career at both club and international level, he would walk into any best team of the decade back four. Nesta is an almost flawless defender, who's impeccable technique means he could have played anywhere on the pitch. But game after game, season after season, he remains forever disciplined, forever selfless, a master of the defensive arts and not someone who ever crosses the half-way line.
Alessandro Costacurta (1986–2007)
Ray Wilkins once said that he thought Costacurta would have looked more at home on a film set than a football pitch and it's easy to see why. Playing the role of good cop to Franco Baresi's ball-busting Magnum Force, 'Billy', as he is known to everyone except his mum, tended to breeze through games with the air of someone who wasn't all that keen on messing up his hair. But this foppish demeanour concealed undeniably brilliance. Seven Serie A titles, five Champions League's, four UEFA Super Cups and one Coppa Italia says it all. And he gets a mention in the pilot episode of Father Ted.
Paolo Maldini (1985-2009)What is there left to say about the extraordinary career of the greatest left-back in the history of the game? Having spent his entire club career in the red and black number 3 shirt, Maldini spent a record-breaking 25 years in the first team. In that time, he won seven Serie A championships, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana, five UEFA Champions League's, five UEFA Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA World Club Cup. All this, and the looks of a matinee idol. Milan may take a while to learn how to walk again without him around.
Andrea Pirlo (2001-)
Andrea Pirlo is a unique footballer in more ways than one. The son of a wealthy industrialist, Pirlo spent the early part of his career as a trequartista but Carlo Ancelotti had the vision, and the courage, to turn this most gifted of talents into a deep-lying playmaker. Pirlo has never looked back. No other player of his type fills a similar role in the game. And yet, for both club and country, he has become utterly indispensable, dictating the direction, tempo and shape of the play. Gennaro Gattuso put it best when he said, "When I see what Andrea can do with the ball, I have to ask myself whether I am a footballer".
Gennaro Gattuso (1999-)
If Pirlo carves beautiful shapes on the football field, Gattuso is there to destroy them. Energetic to the point of carelessness, the pit-bull of the Milan midfield charges about the place with scant regard for his, or his opponents, safety. He snaps into tackles, hassles and harries and generally disrupts the merest hint of comfortable possession with a passion that goes above and beyond the call of duty. If there were walls on the pitch, he would run through them. One Scudetto, two Champions League's, two UEFA Super Cups, one FIFA World Club Cup, one Coppa Italia and the small matter of a World Cup suggest he has taken what was Rangers boss Walter Smith's idea and made it fly.
Clarence Seedorf (2002-)
The only player to win the UEFA Champions League with three different clubs, the Suriname-born Dutch superstar seems to have been at the top of the game for about 100 years. It is almost impossible to think of Seedorf as a coltish 16-year-old making his debut for Ajax back in the early nineties. Sampdoria, briefly, then Real Madrid, Inter and finally, Milan followed, as he left his own personal footprint all over the European game. Granted, he does have off-days and his long-range shooting suggests he may be someone who believes he is more capable than he actually is, but when he finds his groove he can dominate and win games like few other midfielders.
He may have arrived as part of the South American heritage that gave us Zico, Rivaldo and Ronaldhinho but the boy named as a result of his kid brother's inability to pronounce the word 'Ricardo' is a very different kind of Brazilian. Kaka's most devastating feature is to run, at pace, with the ball at his feet. And when he's in full flow, he is virtually unstoppable. He drifts instead of dribbles, leaning one way, then the other, sprinkling little seeds of uncertainty into the collective minds of the opposition, as subtle and as dynamic as a breeze.
Andriy Shevchenko (1999–2006) (2008–2009)
Before he became a spare part of a striker with an allergy to putting the ball in the back of the net at Chelsea, this skinny-looking Ukrainian spent a considerable amount of time being the most lethal finisher on the planet. 175 goals in 324 appearances for Milan make him the clubs second all-time top scorer, one place behind fearsome Swedish thunderbolt Gunnar Nordahl. Shevchenko's biggest strengths were his ultra sophisticated interpretation of the play and his chillingly clinical eye for goal. The angled patterns of the Rossoneri suited him perfectly.
Filippo Inzaghi (2001-)
'Super Pippo' is probably the last of the great goal-hanging strikers, a genuine 100 per cent maverick. Half elbows and half knees, he has spent the whole of his career poised on the shoulder of the last defender, waiting for his moment to pounce. When it comes to making off-the-ball angled runs, there is no-one better, perhaps ever. His jagged scurries into the box have been one of the defining features of European football in the 21st Century. As have the number of offside decisions given against him. His goalscoring record, in case you didn't know, is phenomenal. No-one loves scoring goals as much as Inzaghi. Great goals, average goals, fluky goals, vital goals, meaningless goals, headers, shin kicks, tap-ins, he celebrates each one in the same euphoric manner.
Cafu - Nesta - Costacurta - Maldini
Gattuso - Kaka - Seedorf
Shevchenko - Inzaghi
Do you agree with those who made it into the Milan Team of the Decade 2000-2010? What would be your XI? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think...
Gil Gillespie, Goal.com