by Michael Pearson

Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy cannot stop scoring.  His 2 goals at Chievo last Friday took his tally to 12 goals in 15 league games – stats that match Marco van Basten’s best-ever start to a season for the club.

While the Dutchman was already at the peak of his powers by that time, El Shaaraway is still only 20 years of age and his sensational displays are reminiscent of those of another legendary Milan marksman from the 1950’s, Jose Altafini, a Brazilian striker with Italian grandparents, who joined in Milan in 1958. He, like El Shaarawy, was just 20 years old, but was already a World Cup winner on his arrival.

Milan won a League Title, in his first season 1958/59. Altafini scored 28 goals in 32 matches.

He went on to score at least 20 goals a season, and by 1961 there was great demand for him to be brought into the Italian national team.

Unlike today, his appearances for Brazil did not exclude him from playing for Italy, and he would go on to represent the ‘Azzurri’ at the 1962 World Cup. Altafini won a 2nd Scudetto in 1961/62 -scoring 22 goals in 33 games- and then won the European Cup in 1962/63.

The strikers role of course was pivotal and he netted 14 goals in that European Cup triumph. A record for the competition- now jointly held with Lionel Messi (who equalled the feat in 2011/2012).

In the final, Altafini scored 2 second half goals, as Milan came back to defeat Eusebio’s Benfica at Wembley Stadium.

He remained with Milan for two more years, although without winning any more major trophies. He left to join Napoli in 1965, leaving a legacy of 161 goals in 246 appearances.

The Top 10 goals of Jose Altafini can be seen here:

As players on the field, El Sharaaway and Altafini are strikingly similar. Both not the tallest. Both strong and brave enough to cope with physical battles against opposing brutal defenders. Both extremely intelligent, pacy players and each lethal in front of goal.

Jose Altafini remains a Milan legend and it is far too early to say if legendary status will be bestowed on Stephan El Sharaaway.

For the present however, he continues to bewitch and bring Milan’s season of strife back to life.