Story told by Robert Nieri
In 1891 Italy was a young country in search of an identity, a land of growing cities, of new rich and poor and social unrest.
Only the privileged few had time for leisure: to row, cycle, climb mountains or join gymnasium clubs. But an industrialist had returned to Turin from England with a book of contacts and a leather ball, enthused by the wondrous game of football.
He recruited skilled labour to his business and in the summer of that year brought over from Nottingham a young textile worker and amateur footballer called Herbert Kilpin.
Kilpin was the ninth child of a butcher, born at the back of his father’s shop. He came from the town of Robin Hood and of the dastardly Sheriff cooped up in the castle that had dominated the skyline of Nottingham since William the Conqueror’s day and which would serve as the backdrop to the end of the Middle Ages and the declaration of civil war by a king on his own people.
A lace boomtown, through whose streets Luddites strode to smash up machines, Chartists to burn down the castle and William Booth to provide succour to the dispossessed, giving them a glimpse of life before death.

A town of kings and outlaws, rioters and evangelists.
Kilpin would work in the mills and factories of Northern Italy for over 20 years but his mission in life was to bring football to Italians after realising they had little idea how to play the game.
For years he played in Turin, a losing finalist in the first two Italian championships. Then he moved to Milan and in 1899 founded Milan Football and Cricket Club.
Founder, first trainer, captain of the club that would in time be better known as AC Milan, leading it to its first three Italian championships and numerous trophies.
Our colours will be red, because we will be the devils and black, signifying the terror we will strike into the hearts of our opponents.

Italians, Englishmen, but not confined to those nationalities, together we will bring a sense of mission to this new venture and we will go down in history, in every nation, on account of the power and beauty of the way in which we will play the game.
Together with other pioneers of the so-called “heroic age” of Italian football Kilpin brought the discipline and strategy of a foreign game to a fledging nation which, in time, would overtake England in the practice of its arts: in terms of World Cup triumphs, it remains England 1 Italy 4.
Two of the greatest clubs in Italian football came into being in Kilpin’s own backyard in Turin.
And the idea that took shape in his mind as he pounded the streets of Milan in the last years of the nineteenth century has gone on to become the most successful club side in world football in terms of international trophies.
Together with its offshoot and great cross-town rival, it has made the city a world capital of football.
A shadowy, paradoxical figure emerges from the past, a man who played football until the age of 43 but who nonchalantly posed for the camera in his team strip with a cigarette in his hand, openly drinking Scotch whisky before, during and after matches to “recharge his batteries”.
An organiser and networker who mixed with aristocrats, cobblers, business moguls and opera-singing footballers to establish a team from scratch. At the same time, a solitary and driven figure, consumed by his passion for a game from which he neither sought nor derived financial reward.
Kicking a heavy leather ball around muddy fields with his band of brothers in a time of widespread hunger, protests, martial law, ice cream-eating assassins and war, while the seeds of fascism took root.
So with what’s left of one unheralded man’s story, the fragments of an adventure are pieced together, the odyssey of the Lord of Milan.
Kilpin has been rediscovered in Milan, his image raised on banners in the San Siro stadium by fans who have tired of the caprices of the modern footballing era. His contribution to Milanese and Italian culture has been recognised by officialdom as well as on the streets.
No blue heritage plaque marks his birthplace and yet the first step to the San Siro leads from 191 Mansfield Road - in a city of kings and outlaws, rioters, evangelists… and football.
But in his home city, where its river divides the oldest professional football club in the world from neighbours who conquered Europe two years in succession, while a statue stands to commemorate Brian Clough, Herbert Kilpin is not so much forgotten as never known.
The game we gave the world is unlikely to be coming home any time soon. While we wait for that glorious moment, we should celebrate the remarkable tale of its forgotten son and his times.
If you would like to receive updates on publication of the Lord of Milan or have any questions or comments you can contact us by using the form below. We will read every email and when required will respond as soon as we can.
Site design and build by Mr Nieri