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The Lord of Milan: The Story of Nottingham-born AC Milan Founder Herbert Kilpin

5 October 16 words: LeftLion Extended

Did you know that the founder of AC Milan hails from Nottingham? No, neither did we until recently

Nottingham can lay claim to many footballing firsts: the world’s oldest league club, the first million-pound footballer and more. But, a story that's gone under the radar until now, is that of Herbert Kilpin, founder of Italian giants AC Milan. A collective of Nottingham football fans are seeking to change that and celebrate the life of this local legend on the 100th anniversary of his death.

Herbert Kilpin was born on Mansfield Road, Nottingham in 1870 as one of fifteen children. He spent his early life as a butcher’s son at 129 Mansfield Road, which has since been renumbered as 191. He was a lace warehouseman, working in the Adams building on Stoney Street, and played football in his spare time for Notts Olympic and for St. Andrews on the Forest Recreation Ground.

Herbert Kilpin - Images supplied by

Herbert Kilpin. image: Maglia Roosnera

In 1891 Kilpin moved to Turin, to work for Edoardo Bosio an Italian-Swiss textile merchant with links to a Nottingham lace manufacturer. In the same year, Bosio founded Internazionale Torino, an early Italian football club. Kilpin played for them in the first two editions of the Italian Football Championship. By 1898, he had settled in Milan and was instrumental in founding Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club, which later became AC Milan. He came up with their famous red and black striped shirts and led the club to its first three championship titles in the early 1900s. 

The Lord of Milan - A documentary by LeftLion Extended

The Lord of Milan. A Documentary by LeftLion Extended

Author Robert Nieri has spent the last decade researching his book The Lord of Milan, a story based on Kilpin’s life and love of football. He’s traced the story across Kilpin’s early haunts and has been working with AC Milan. He will launch his book at the San Siro stadium on Thursday 20 October, two days before the 100th anniversary of Herbert Kilpin’s death.

Robert said “I first learned of this story nine years ago. Being based in Nottingham, half-Italian and mad on football, I knew I had to learn more about it. Eventually, I realised that so little was known and although I’d never had plans to write a book before, I decided someone had to do it.”

Herbert Kilpin - Images supplied by

Herbert Kilpin. image: Maglia Roosnera

Jared Wilson, founder of LeftLion, met Robert and was quickly enthused: “We’d been filming together for another project, but we quickly realised this was a much bigger story. Robert asked us if we’d be able to make a documentary with him and then AC Milan football club opened their doors to us all. At that point, we just couldn’t say no. It’s an amazing story and Nottingham needs to know more about our Herbert.”

The 100th anniversary of Herbert Kilpin’s death takes place on 22 October 2016. The same day AC Milan will play Juventus at the San Siro, who also have well established links to the city. Robert Nieri and the LeftLion team will be in Italy to document it. Nottingham City Transport have also agreed to name a bus after Kilpin, which will travel past his old home on Mansfield Road.

LeftLion have launched a public crowdfunding project with rewards for backers, which aims to raise £3000 to pay for a plaque to be erected in Herbert Kilpin’s honour and cover some
of the costs of making the film.

Support this campaign on Kickstarter

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