‘Ordinary Nottingham man born up the road’ to be honoured for founding footballing giant

Video: Author Robert Nieri speaks to Notts TV’s Liam Hunt about AC Milan’s founder

A butcher’s son who grew up on Mansfield Road and went on to found AC Milan is set to be honoured on the 100th anniversary of his death.

On Saturday 22 October, a ceremony will take place outside Herbert Kilpin’s Nottingham home on Mansfield Road with the Sheriff of Nottingham naming a bus after him.

Author of The Lord of Milan, a novel recounting the story of Kilpin, Robert Nieri thinks that although he created a super club of world football, one of the city’s most successful sporting sons is often overlooked.

He’s an ordinary man who founded a legendary football club

He told Notts TV: “I’ve been writing this story for nine years and I’m amazed nobody has picked it up before, I just see it as a platform for Nottingham.

“I think it can inspire lots of young people in the city to pursue their dreams because this was an ordinary Nottingham man born up the road who basically founded a legendary football club.”

AC Milan founder, Herbert Kilplin

The ninth child of a butcher, Kilpin was born in 1870 at 129 Mansfield Road (now 191 Mansfield Road).

Growing up he had a passion for football and played for several local sides at the Forest Recreation Ground.

Kilpin’s work in the lace mills took him to Northern Italy where he would first play football in Turin.

He would then move to Milan and founded Milan Football and Cricket in 1899.

The clubs founder, trainer and captain, Kilpin would lead AC Milan to numerous trophies including their first three Italian championships.

AC Milan lifting one of seven European Cups (Picture by Wikipedia user Soccer Illustrated, cc-by-sa-3.0)

The ‘Rossoneri’ would go on to win seven European Cups and 18 league titles.

The father of Italian football later retired and died at the age of just 46 in 1916 – the location of his grave was thought to be unknown until a historian tracked it down.

In 1999 Kilpin was reburied in the Monumental Cemetery in Milan with the club he founded paying for a new tombstone.

He is buried among other famous names including F1 Driver Alberto Ascari, conductor Arturo Toscanini and composer Guiseppe Verdi.

Images of Kilpin surround the San Siro but despite his recognition in Milan, he is relatively unknown in Nottingham – until now.

Mr Nieri said: “Kilpin has been honoured in Milan in the city’s hall of fame where his name is on a big marble plaque.

“There are plans at the moment to name a street after him there.

“He deserves more recognition in Nottingham but things are picking up; we now have the Herbert Kilpin pub, and we’ve also now had the Herbert Kilpin Cup played by children from Nottinghamshire schools on the Forest Rec in the last week.”

The San Siro, the home of AC Milan (Picture by Wikipedia user Nahuel, cc-by-sa-2.0)

Mr Nieri has raised money for a commemorative plaque which will be revealed on Saturday and will be placed on the founders former home in the near future.

In conjunction with the ceremony on Mansfield Road, The Lord of Milan will also be published in both English and Italian to mark the centenary of Herbert Kilpin’s death.

The launch of the Italian book will take place on Thursday at the AC Milan headquarters in front of the Italian press and the English version will be launched at the Nottingham Conference Centre in the Kilpin Room next Wednesday.

Three Milan fans are due to attend the launch in Nottingham, one of whom discovered Kilpin’s remains and is someone Nottingham author Mr Nieri worked on his novel with.

Mr Nieri added: “An AC Milan fan has e-mailed me wanting to meet me and thank me for what I’d done for the founder of the club.

“I think there’s a huge potential for Milanese and Italian people to come to Nottingham; the actual site of his birthplace is a place of pilgrimage and if you go up there now there are stickers of AC Milan on the door.”

Google Street View:The birthplace of Kilpin, 191 Mansfield Road (left of Best Choice).

The book will be sold locally at: The Herbert Kilpin Pub, Junkyard Pub, Nottingham Tourism Centre, Dukki Giftshop and Taste, with Mr Nieri keen for local outlets to generate their own business.

Nottingham’s LeftLion are also collaborating with author Mr Nieri to produce a documentary about Kilpin’s remarkable story.


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