The Rossoneri's captain, Paolo Maldini, gave an interview to daily newspaper 'La Stampa' in which he touched on various themes: his career, his emotions, Milan, his life.
(ON THE ARCHIVE PHOTO: PAOLO MALDINI)
MILAN - Paolo Maldini, a name, a legend. He has tied his entire career to Milan, the team of his city which saw him mature and grow as a man and a professional. In 1978 he had his first try-out with the Rossoneri, his Serie A debut on 20 January 1985 under Nils Liedhbolm, while he was just sixteen, in a match against Udinese (1-1).
Already the following season, at just 17, Paolo became a first choice in the Rossoneri's formation, with the number 3 shirt of the left back. He scored his first Serie A goal on 4 January 1987 in Como-Milan (0-1). In Europe, his first goal came on 21 October 1992 in Slovan Bratislava-Milan (0-1).
Today Paolo is Milan's captain, husband and father of Christian and Daniel, and holds the record for the most seasons in Serie A with the same team. With 25 consecutive seasons played with Milan, he is the record holder for appearences: 895 official games played, including Cups.
"There are seven games left to the end of the season" - Paolo Maldini said this morning in an interview to Turin daily newspaper 'La Stampa' - I've solved my physical problems, I'd like to get to 900."
The Rossoneri's captain made up a balance of his career on his last season as a player, saying: "As a man and a player I gave my best from when I was 30 to when I turned 40." On which game gave him the most emotions, Maldini answered: "The debut in Udine. Battistini got injured, Liedholm told me during the break in the dressing room."
With Milan's shirt in Italy he won, at national level: 7 Scudetti (1987-1988, 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1995-1996, 1998-1999, 2003-2004); 5 Italian Supercups (1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2004 ) and 1 Coppa Italia (2002-2003); at international level: 5 Champions Cups/Champions League (1988-1989, 1989-1990, 1993-1994, 2002-2003, 2006-2007); 5 UEFA Supercups (1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007); 2 Intercontinental Cups (1989, 1990); 1 Club World Cup (2007).
With the national team shirt he debuted at age 19, on 31 March 1988 in Jugoslavia-Italy (1-1) and scored the first of his 7 goals on 20 January 1993 in Florence against Mexico (2-0).
He quit the national team in 2002 at 34 after the World Cup. With the Azzurri's shirt he has played 126 matches (an absolute record), scoring 7 goals. Paolo also holds the record for the amount of matches with the captain's armband: 74. It's also possible that he will wear the Azzurri's shirt one more time in a possible friendly at Pescara in an act of solidarity towards Abruzzo: "It would be magnificent, I would be proud" - Maldini commented.
On 26 June Maldini will turn 41 and he will end this cycle of honors, glories and victories with the Rossoneri shirt, but since a few months a 'new' defender, Thiago Silva, is training alongside him at Milanello, and Paolo gave him his grade: "A very high grade. He's strong and quick. He's worthy of Milan."
All of this is captain Maldini, a unique case in the world and certainly all the Rossoneri fans, and not only them, will have a sad day when he plays his last match at San Siro on 24 May against Roma: "I would have liked to finish at San Siro, but our last match is in Florence. And so I will wave the fans goodbye the Sunday before, on 24 May at home against Roma."