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Van Basten's coaching ambition
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Marco van Basten during his AC Milan days
Van Basten is still a legend in Milan and Amsterdam
Former Ajax, AC Milan and Holland superstar Marco van Basten caught up with our friends at the BBC World Service for an exclusive chat.

Ask most Dutch football fans who Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy reminds them of, chances are the answer will be Marco van Basten.

Van Basten is widely regarded as one of the most talented footballers Europe - and the world - has ever seen.

A horrific ankle injury cut short his brilliant career aged 28 back in 1993, just when he was about to join the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cryuff as one of football's all-time legends.

But after a 10-year absence from football, he's back - and he's passing on his vast experience to Ajax's stars of the future.

Ruud van Nistelrooy in action for Manchester United
Van Nistelrooy is often compared to van Basten

"It feels good to be back on a football pitch," said van Basten.

"I wanted to develop myself as a person and I wanted to be involved in football again.

"I did my training courses at Ajax so I have a good relationship with the club, and I decided to work here."

Van Basten has now joined the world famous De Toekomst academy (which translates as 'the future'), where Ajax's talented young stars are put their paces.

"It's good that I now have the chance to work with talented youngsters," said van Basten, part of Holland's 1988 European Championship-winning side.

"The game today is quicker and more physical than it used to be, there isn't as much space for players.

"So we're trying to help our young players by not only teaching them certain tactics and techniques, but also to think faster during the game and learn how to turn situations to their advantage."

Like many footballers before him, van Basten was forced to retire prematurely because of injury.

Although he went through numerous operations to get back to fitness, he reluctantly accepted his ankle was not strong enough for football anymore.

"It's not a problem for me, it's all in the past," he said.

"It wasn't easy because at the time I was only just 28 and hadn't considered stopping playing.

"But after a lot of operations I had to accept it - and that was hard."

Now he's back on the football pitch, van Basten's out to unearth his successor. We have been warned!

World Football is broadcast at 0830 every Saturday on the BBC World Service

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Van Basten's factfile
Date of birth: 31 October 1964
Place of birth: Utrecht, Holland
Height: 6ft 1in
Position: Striker
Clubs: Ajax, AC Milan
International caps: 58
International goals: 24

Did you know?
Marco was named European Footballer of the Year on three different occasions (1988, 1989 and 1992), equalling the record set by his countryman Johan Cruyff and France's Michel Platini

Open Quote
He is a bit like Marco van Basten - fast, strong, good in the air and knows how to score goals
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Frank de Boer
Frank de Boer
On Dutch team-mate Ruud van Nistelrooy

:: BBC World Football

:: Ajax's official website

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