Lino Dante "Alan" Ameche (March 1, 1933 – August 8, 1988), nicknamed "The Iron Horse", or simply "The Horse", was an American football player who played six seasons with the Baltimore Colts in the National Football League after winning the Heisman Trophy in college at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was elected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons in the league. He is famous for scoring the winning touchdown in the 1958 NFL Championship Game against the New York Giants, labeled "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
With colleague (and former Colts teammate) Gino Marchetti, Alan Ameche founded the Gino's Hamburgers chain. He also founded the Baltimore-based Ameche's Drive-in restaurants. Ameche died in Houston, Texas.
Ameche was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His parents were Italian immigrants who came to the United States in the late 1930s, although they returned for a year to Italy during his childhood. The family then returned to Kenosha, where he attended Mary D. Bradford High School. Ameche was a cousin of noted actors Don Ameche and Jim Ameche.
Ameche earned All-America honors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he played linebacker as well as fullback in single-platoon days. In four years as a Badger, he gained 3,212 yards, then the NCAA record, scored 25 touchdowns, and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Ameche won the Heisman Trophy in 1954, the first player to do so in Wisconsin's history.
Ameche is one of six Wisconsin football players to have a number retired by the program (35) and enshrined on the Camp Randall Stadium façade as of 2008: fellow Heisman winner and current career rushing record holder Ron Dayne (33), Elroy Hirsch (40), Dave Schreiner (80), Allan Schafer (83), and Pat Richter (88) are the others. Ameche was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1967 and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975.
Ameche played fullback for the Baltimore Colts from 1955 until 1960. Named NFL Rookie of the Year in 1955, he was a four-time Pro Bowler (1955–58). He averaged 4.2 yards per carry over his career. He held the record for rushing yards in his first three NFL games until Carnell "Cadillac" Williams passed it in 2005.
Ameche may be best remembered for his role in the 1958 NFL Championship Game at Yankee Stadium, often cited as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." Ameche scored the winning touchdown for the Colts on a one-yard run in overtime as the Colts beat the Giants, 23-17. It was his second touchdown of the day as he also scored a TD on a 2 yard run in the second quarter.
Ameche finished a relatively short six-season NFL career with 4,045 rushing yards, 101 receptions for 733 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Alan Ameche died of a heart attack at age 55 in Houston, a few days after undergoing heart bypass surgery. He is interred at Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.