Final Four club legend: Dino Meneghin, Milan

May 17, 2021 by Print
Final Four club legend: Dino Meneghin, Milan

There are Italian basketball greats, and then there is Dino Meneghin. The sturdy center is a true living legend whose accomplishments could fill an entire wing of a library on European, international and EuroLeague basketball. Meneghin is the all-time record holder among players with seven EuroLeague titles and one of just a few players who has hoisted the trophy with more than one team.

Meneghin's professional career began in November 1966, when he debuted at just 16 years and 11 months for Ignis Varese. His career would last 28 years and see him collect trophies at an unprecedented pace. He stayed at Varese until 1981, winning five EuroLeague crowns – in 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976 – along with seven Italian League and four Italian Cups titles. The big man would move to Milan in 1981 and star there for nine years, guiding the club to the 1987 EuroLeague crown at 37 years old, an impressive 11 years since his previous championship. Meneghin helped Milan win the continental title in 1988 for what was the club's last EuroLeague trophy. He added five more Italian League crowns and two Italian Cups with Milan.

Meneghin also helped the Italian national team to major successes, taking the silver medal at the 1980 Olympics and winning the 1983 FIBA EuroBasket gold medal. Meneghin was also a part of Italy winning the 1999 EuroBasket title as team manager, with his son Andrea Meneghin starring for the team. That family highlight came nearly a decade after the father and son faced each other on the court as the 16-year-old Andrea was playing for Varese and Dino was a 40-year-old with Trieste in November 1990. Dino Meneghin played for Trieste for three seasons before returning to Milan in 1993 for one final season and then retiring in 1994 at age 44.

Meneghin, whose distinctions also include being the first European to be selected in the NBA Draft (by Atlanta in 1970) and one of the 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors, remains close to the game. In addition to his role with the Italian national team, Meneghin was also a manager at Milan and, in February 2009, became president of the Italian Basketball Federation, for which he still serves as honorary president. His legend lives on.