Thursday, April 24, 2008

Maldini To Be Awarded FIFA Order Of Merit

FIFA is to bestow the Order of Merit on AC Milan legend Paolo Maldini, the Gazzetta dello Sport has revealed.

The FIFA Order of Merit is usually awarded to those who are considered to have made a significant contribution to football.

The prize is not necessarily just for footballers, as apart from the likes of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and the only other Italian to have won the award so far, Dino Zoff, political figures such as Nelson Mandela and Henry Kissinger have also been recipients.

Maldini will become only the second Italian to win the award, following in the footsteps of 1982 World Cup-winning captain Dino Zoff.

The 39-year-old Maldini will receive the honour at the annual FIFA Congress in Sydney next month. The Milan captain is set to retire from football at the end of the season after a glorious career lasting almost a quarter-of-a-century.

He has won seven Scudetti, one Coppa Italia, five Italian Super Cups, five Champions League titles, five European Super Cups and three World Club Cups.

He is both Milan and Italy’s all-time appearance maker, and is regarded by some as the best defender in the history of the game.