Mark van Bommel had a reputation for putting in crunching tackles during his playing days – his name became almost synonymous with bookings.
After seeing out his time as captain of Bayern Munich – part of which came under the guise of Louis van Gaal – the midfielder moved on to AC Milan in January 2011.
In fitting style, van Bommel would be sent off on his Serie A debut – then go on to make a telling contribution as the Rossoneri secured the Scudetto ahead of city rivals Inter.
He remained at San Siro for another season before moving back to his homeland a year prior to calling time on his career, spending his final 12 months as a player at PSV.
Despite his relatively short stint in Italy, however, van Bommel has described the upcoming Derby della Madonnina as ‘the most beautiful match in the world’ – a lofty compliment.
Two of his countrymen currently ply their trade for the Dutchman’s former club as the Rossoneri get ready to face San Siro cousins Inter on Sunday – Nigel de Jong and Marco van Ginkel.
Yet the stories of the two players during their Milan tenure are quite different.
De Jong is a crucial figure for the side, perhaps the lone remaining true star in a squad that has been decimated over the past few years as finances have dried up.
The 29-year-old’s former boss at the international level – van Gaal – has been said to be keen to reunite with de Jong at Manchester United, needing a midfielder of his ilk.
With his contract set to expire in June, a move to Old Trafford remains a possibility. But with the upcoming derby currently at the fore, van Bommel has compared de Jong to himself.
“I like Nigel as a player and as a person,” he told Milan Channel. “He’s very similar to me, he plays for the team and not himself.
“There aren’t many players like him. He’s an important figure in the dressing room.”
Van Ginkel, meanwhile, has found little more than difficulty on loan from Chelsea at Milan.
Hoping to rebound from an injury-hit first season at Stamford Bridge with a spell in northern Italy, van Ginkel has been relegated to the bench for all but 33 minutes.
Van Bommel said of the Blues loanee: “Van Ginkel? He didn’t play much at Chelsea due to the injury, but he’s young and has the qualities to do well both offensively and defensively.”
The 21-year-old is yet to really demonstrate those qualities to boss Pippo Inzaghi, and faces a fight to make his loan at Milan a success – which Chelsea undoubtedly hope it would be.
Sunday’s Derby della Madonnina would be a brilliant place for van Ginkel to start by leaving his mark, but it remains to be seen if he’ll get the chance after barely seeing action up to this point.