Carlo Ancelotti has paid tribute to newly-retired Paolo Maldini, the legendary defender he coached for eight years at AC Milan.
Maldini capped a 24-year career with Sunday's 2-0 triumph at Fiorentina - a result which ensured the Rossoneri direct qualification for the group phrase of next season's Champions League.
"The friendship with Maldini will remain as will the conviction of having dealt with a great champion and a splendid person," said Ancelotti, who has left the club for Chelsea.
The 40-year-old Maldini has won five Champions League titles, two Intercontinental Cups, four European Super Cups and seven Serie A crowns. Maldini also lifted the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007.
On the international stage, he earned a record 126 caps for Italy before retiring after the 2002 World Cup.
"He is a player that doesn't speak much but has always been present in the locker room," Ancelotti said.
"In eight years I think he has been the only player whom I have never fined for arriving late.
"He has loved his work and has done it with great enthusiasm, otherwise you would not be able to play at this level up to 41."
Maldini will celebrate his 41st birthday later this month.
Milan have retired Maldini's number three jersey, although it may appear on the Giuseppe Meazza pitch again if any of his sons make it into the senior team. One son, Christian, plays for Milan's youth team.