Paolo Maldini is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a left back and central defender for A.C. Milan and the Italy national team. He spent all 25 seasons of his career in the Serie A with Milan, before retiring at the age of 41 in 2009. He won 26 trophies with Milan: the UEFA Champions League five times, seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana titles, five European Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup. Maldini made his debut for Italy in 1988, enjoying a 14 year career before retiring in 2002 with 126 caps, a record at the time, which has since only bettered by Fabio Cannavaro in 2009 and Gianluigi Buffon in 2013. Maldini captained Italy for eight years and held the record for appearances made as Italy’s captain, wearing the armband 74 times, until he was once again overtaken by Cannavaro, in 2010. With Italy, Maldini took part in three UEFA European Championship and four FIFA World Cups. Although he did not win a tournament with Italy, he reached the final of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000, and the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1988. He was elected into the all-star teams for each of these tournaments, in addition to Euro 1996. Maldini is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time. He played at a world class level for his entire career spanning two-and-a-half decades, and won the Best Defender trophy at the UEFA Club Football Awards at the age of 39, as well as the Serie A Defender of the Year Award in 2004. He came second to George Weah for the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1995. Maldini also placed third in the Ballon d’Or on two occasions, in 1994 and 2003. In 1999, he was voted 21st in World Soccer‘s list of the 100 greatest football players of the 20th century. In 2002, he was chosen as a defender on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team, and in 2004 he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players. Maldini was also the Milan and Italy captain for many years and was considered a leader by fellow footballers, leading to the nickname “Il Capitano” (“The Captain”). Maldini holds the records for most appearances in Serie A, with 647, and also held the record for most appearances in UEFA Club competitions, with 174, until he was overtaken by Iker Casillas, who made his 175th European club appearance in 2017. He is also the record appearance holder for Milan with 902 appearances in all competitions. He is one of only 18 players to have made over 1,000 career appearances. Following his retirement after the 2008–09 season, his lifelong club Milan retired his number 3 shirt in his honour, and in December 2012, he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame. Paolo’s father Cesare formerly played for and captained Milan, and was a successful national under-21 manager, who also coached both Milan, and the senior national side during France 1998.
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Although he played as a left back for most of his career, Maldini was naturally right footed, and began playing for Milan as a right back. He was switched to the left back position by manager Arrigo Sacchi due to the presence of Mauro Tassotti on the right for Milan. This was made possible due to Maldini’s tactical versatility and ability with both feet, which allowed him to play anywhere along the backline, and have a long and successful professional career, both with Milan and Italy. Maldini was renowned for his technical ability, athleticism, sliding tackles, stamina, composure and fast energetic forward runs as a left-back or wing-back. He was also an excellent crosser of the ball, and was an effective attacking threat, scoring and assisting several goals throughout his career. In the final few years of his career, as he lost speed, he was moved to a centre-back position, where he excelled in relying on his experience, tactical ability, positioning and timing to win the ball. Maldini was renowned for his technical ability, athleticism, sliding tackles, stamina, composure and fast energetic forward runs as a left-back or wing-back. He was also an excellent crosser of the ball, and was an effective attacking threat, scoring and assisting several goals throughout his career. In the final few years of his career, as he lost speed, he was moved to a centre-back position, where he excelled in relying on his experience, tactical ability, positioning and timing to win the ball.
Italy vs Bosnia and Herzegovina
Match Worn Shirt
“I always found it very difficult when I came up against Paolo Maldini. He was the best defender I faced over the course of my career. He definitely deserved to win the award FIFA World Player of the Year several times over” Ronaldo Nazario
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Maldini played in his fourth World Cup, and his second as captain, in the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan. He helped Italy keep a clean sheet in their opening win against Ecuador, and played in all four of Italy’s matches. Italy disappointed in the remaining group matches, but went on to the knockout round as the second placed team of their group. Immediately after a ten-man Italy were controversially eliminated in the round of sixteen, by a golden goal, to co-hosts South Korea, Maldini retired from international football, at the age of 34, as Italy’s most capped player. He scored seven international goals, all coming in home games. He spent over half of his 16 years as an international as team captain, wearing the armband a record 74 times, until he was overtaken by Cannavaro. Despite his performances for his country, Maldini was unable to win a trophy, although he reached the final of both the World Cup and the European Championship. Maldini made 23 appearances in World Cups, in 2017 still the second highest total after Lothar Matthäus, who appeared in 25 matches. Maldini holds the record for most minutes played in World Cup matches with 2,216 minutes played.
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Maldini is considered to have been one of the greatest defenders of all time, and has been described as “an icon and gentleman of the game”. He was known for his calm and composed manner on the pitch, as well as his ability to read the game, preferring elegance and intelligence to physicality and aggression when defending; regarded as a correct player, known for his discipline on the pitch, he only received three red cards throughout his entire career. In a 2002 FIFA poll, Maldini was selected as a defender in the FIFA World Cup Dream Team. Maldini was the first defender ever shortlisted for the FIFA World Player of the Year award, finishing second in 1995. He was also twice elected as a finalist for the Ballon d’Or, in 1994 and in 2003, where he finished third on both occasions. In addition to his team success, he also won several individual accolades and awards. He won the UEFA Defender of the year, the Serie A defender of the year, the Bravo Award and the World Soccer Player of the Year Award. He has also been elected as part of the UEFA Team of the Year, the FIFPro World XI, the World Cup Team of the Tournament and the European Championship Team of the Tournament during his career. Maldini was a symbol of his club and the Italian national football team. He was renowned for his consistency, versatility, work-rate, and longevity, breaking into the Milan starting lineup as a teenager and remaining there throughout his career until he retired at the age of 41. Throughout his career, Maldini was also considered to be a leader, both for Milan and for the Italian national team, earning the nickname “Il Capitano” (“The Captain”). He was renowned for his vocal, commanding presence on the pitch, and for his awareness, communication and organisational skills, helping to motivate his teammates and ensuring they remained in position. He played in over 1,000 professional matches during his 25 seasons at Milan, and is the record appearance holder in Serie A, and for Milan in all competitions. Maldini also appeared in a record eight UEFA Champions League Finals, and is the record appearance holder in all UEFA club competitions. With 126 caps during the 16 years he played for Italy, he was the record appearance holder for the national team, until he was overtaken by Fabio Cannavaro in 2009 and by Gianluigi Buffon in 2013. He also formerly held the record number of caps for Italy as captain, wearing the armband on 74 occasions, until being overtaken by Cannavaro. Maldini has inspired many defenders like Rafael Márquez and Carles Puyol. Paolo was son of Cesare who was also a footballer who also played as a defender, captained Milan, and represented the Italy national team, later going on to become a coach. Throughout Cesare’s managerial career, he coached his son both in the Italy under-21 side and the senior team, as well as at Milan, also managing several other teams.
Milan vs Real Madrid
Match Worn Shirt
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Milan won the 2002–03 Champions League with Maldini as their captain for the first time in his career, in the first all-Italian final, against Juventus, on 28 May 2003 at Old Trafford. Maldini helped Milan keep a clean sheet, as they defeated Juventus 3–2 on penalties after a 0–0 deadlock following extra time. On that day, it was exactly 40 years since his father, Cesare, had also lifted the European Cup trophy as Milan’s captain, also in England. He and his father are only one of three other father-son pairs to have also done so; the others being Manuel Sanchís Martínez and Manuel Sanchís Hontiyuelo of Real Madrid, and Carles and Sergio Busquets of Barcelona. Maldini was elected Man of the Match and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year for the first time in his career.
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The 2003 UEFA Champions League Final was a football match that took place at Old Trafford in Manchester, England on 28 May 2003 to decide the winner of the 2002–03 UEFA Champions League. The match was contested by two Italian teams: Juventus and Milan. The match made history as it was the first time two clubs from Italy had faced each other in the final. It was also the second intra-national final of the competition, following the all-Spanish 2000 UEFA Champions League Final three years earlier. Milan won the match via a penalty shoot-out after the game had finished 0–0 after extra time. Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, was selected to host the match in December 2001, following a meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee in Nyon, Switzerland, at the same time as Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville was selected to host the 2003 UEFA Cup Final. It was selected ahead of the likes of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, the Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris, and the Amsterdam Arena.
Champions League 2003 Final Match Worn Shirts and Game Used Ball.
Watch above the Champions League Final 2003 penalties set
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In the 2003-2004 season, Milan were defeated by Juventus on penalties in the Supercoppa Italiana, and in the Intercontinental Cup final by Boca Juniors, once again on penalties, but managed to defeat Porto to capture yet another UEFA Super Cup. Maldini placed third in the 2003 Ballon d’Or for the second time in his career. Maldini would go on to captain Milan to win the Serie A title that season, with a record 82 points, whilst Milan would be eliminated in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia by Lazio, and in the quarter-finals of the Champions League by Deportivo de La Coruña. In April 2004, Maldini placed tenth on the ‘UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll, an online UEFA survey, which was organized to commemorate the best European footballers of the past 50 years. Maldini was the second-highest placed Italian after Dino Zoff. Maldini was also included in the FIFA 100 list in 2004, which was a selection of the 125 greatest living footballers, chosen by Pelé. Following his Series A-winning performances, Maldini was elected to be the Serie A Defender of the Year in 2004 at the Italian footballing Awards.
Match Worn Boots
“Maldini was the best and toughest defender I ever faced. He had everything: he was a complete defender, who was strong, intelligent, and an excellent man-marker” Zlatan Ibrahimovic
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On 18 April 2009, Maldini announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2008–09 season. On 17 May 2009, in the Stadio Friuli, Maldini played his 900th official match for Milan in a league game against Udinese. Maldini’s last match in San Siro was on 24 May, a 3–2 loss against Roma, and was given a standing ovation by the fans. There was a small controversy, however, when the Milan Ultras fans known as Brigate Rossonere protested against Maldini as he said goodbye. His last appearance for Milan, and his last game as an active player, was a 2–0 win against Fiorentina on 31 May 2009 in the last match of the Series A season. This win meant Milan finished in third place and qualified for the following season’s Champions League. While Maldini was once again given a standing ovation by half the fans, the Milan Ultras once again protested against him while he was greeting the fans. Maldini was very disappointed and he also did the fingers to the Brigate Rossonere.. As they had previously done with Franco Baresi’s number 6 shirt, Milan retired Maldini’s number 3 shirt, but stated that it will be bequeathed to one of his sons if one of them were to make the club’s senior team.