Serie A Heroes: Paolo Maldini


Now in my 21 years or so of watching football, there has been no better defender in the world than Paolo Maldini.

He started with AC Milan aged 16 in January 1985, I was only 8 months old, 25 seasons later Paolo retired from football aged 40 & he never left Milan! He played over 900 games for Milan, was their inspirational captain & was selected to represent Italy a whopping 126 times.

So ever since I followed Serie A Paolo was there. He was at 1st a left back before moving in & playing at Centre Back. He used to perform wonderful sliding tackles stopping the best attackers of his generation with ease & would get up still looking impeccable.  He made great defensive partnerships with Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Alessandro Nesta, Ciro Ferrara & Fabio Cannavaro.

He would gallop forward as a left back, get goals & be the best last line of defence. Now as a kid I was always a striker so I was drawn to goalscorers but Maldini was the first defender to catch my eye, as he was the one who would be the one that would stop players like Klinsmann, Batistuta, Mancini, Baggio & Ronaldo. He would do it with such flawless class, you instantly knew you were watching a great. He was the first defender to win the World Player of the Year trophy in 1994.

The man is just the embodiment of a true world class professional. He made more appearances in Serie than anyone else, won 7 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia & 5 Champions League titles.

The saddest thing for me was in 2006 when The Azzurri won the World Cup the real Il Capitano was not their lifting the trophy.

He is the man I loved in the Milan side for 21 years, he for me was Milan. The tribute to retire his number 3 shirt was fitting.. No one could fill that jersey, although the true family man wants one of his sons to take it if they make it at AC, his father Cesare Maldini, also a European Cup winner, managed his son whilst he bossed Italy/

I was honoured to see Paolo Maldini four times & he was almost perfect in every game. Now at 42 he has taken a break from football & has stated he won’t become a coach.

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