Paolo Maldini, Il Capitano, 1000 Games for AC Milan and Italy

Image courtesy of Eddie Marles and AC Milan.

Last Saturday night in Parma (0 x 0), the legendary AC Milan captain, Paolo Maldini, celebrated his 1000th appearance for club and country. He came on as a 70th minute substitute for Marek Jankulovski.

“I hope my legacy will be one of absolute respect for the sport and opposition. This respect has been recognised by the fans, as I have never been insulted or jeered in any particular fashion.

I did not create a personality or character that is separate from how I am in real life and this was appreciated by fans.”

Source: Football Italia.

“I would like to dedicate this achievement to my family, in particular my mother who has followed me all these years and has always stayed close.”

Source: Reuters.

He has played 23 years for the same club, which is a milestone in and of itself. He has been the Milan captain since 1997, and was the Italy captain from 1994 to 2002. In both instances, he succeeded Franco Baresi. When he retires in May, Italian calcio and world football will commemorate a player for the ages: Paolo Maldini.

Total Appearances, Red Cards, and Goals

  • 126 for the Italian National Team (He was the captain 64 times).
  • 874 for AC Milan, where he debuted in January 1985 as a 16 year old against Udinese.
  • According to GFDb, since 1999, he has had only 1 red card. (To the best of my knowledge, he was never red carded playing for Italy).
  • He has scored 43 goals in his career.

Career Honors

  • 7 Serie A championships.
  • 5 European Cup/Champions League titles. He has played in 8 final games, and that ties him with Paco Gento of Real Madrid for the record.
  • 5 UEFA and Serie A Super Cups.
  • Record holder for appearances at AC Milan, the Serie A, and the Italian National Team.
  • Intercontinental Cup Champion in 1989 and 1990.
  • Bronze medal at World Cup 1990.
  • Silver medal at World Cup 1994.
  • World Soccer Magazine Player of the Year in 1994.
  • Silver medal at Euro 2000.
  • FIFA’s Best 125 living players.
  • He competed at 4 World Cup competitions, along with three European Nations Cups.
  • He played for the Azzurri from 1988 to 2002.
  • 23 completed games at the World Cup, which is a record. (Lothar Matthäus played in 25 games, which is the record for most appearances).
  • 2006-07 UEFA Club Defender of the Year.
  • 2007 FIFA World Club Champion.

Excerpts from an Interview in the Gazzetta dello Sport

Ha giocato 80 partite consecutive senza perdere: le capitava di sentirsi imbattibile?

“Non la vivevo così, però l’imbattibilità era un motivo d’orgoglio e uno stimolo a dare qualcosa in più in ogni partita”.

You played 80 consecutive games without losing. Were you able to understand the feeling of invincibility?

I didn’t experience it that way, but being unbeaten was a motive of pride and a stimulus to give something extra in every game.

Quale partita vorrebbe rivivere in campo per le emozioni che le ha dato?

“La prima: sarà banale, ma è vero. Quel giorno a Udine (20-1-1985, ndr) ho cominciato a sentirmi parte del Milan”.

Which game would you like to relive for the emotions it gave to you?

The first: it will be banal, but it is the truth. That day in Udine (20 January 1985) I began to feel a part of Milan.”

Quale finirebbe sicuramente con un risultato diverso, se la rigiocasse?

“La finale di Istanbul, che poi è stata tra le più dolorose ma anche tra quelle giocate meglio”.

Which one would have had a different result if you replayed it?

The final in Istanbul that was among the most painful but also among the best played.

Da quale maestro ha imparato di più?

“Liedholm: i suoi insegnamenti sono stati preziosi. Anche Vicini, Sacchi e Capello mi hanno dato molto. Poi, con l’esperienza e l’età, anch’io ho cominciato a dare qualcosa”.

Which coach taught you the most?

“(Nils) Liedholm: his teachings have been precious. Also (Azeglio) Vicini, (Arrigo) Sacchi and (Fabio) Capello have given me a great deal. Also, with experience and age, I began to give myself something.

Ha giocato 126 partite in Nazionale: a Cannavaro ne mancano 14 per raggiungerla. Le dispiacerebbe essere superato?

“Un pochino sì, ma il grosso dispiacere è non aver mai vinto il Mondiale”.

You played in 126 international games. (Fabio) Cannavaro only needs 14 games to reach that figure. Would it displease you to be overtaken?

A little bit yes, but the greatest sorrow was never having won the World Cup.

Translated by Steve Amoia.

Paolo Maldini – The Legend

Steve Amoia is the author and editor of World Football Commentaries. He also writes for Soccerlens, and recently has contributed to one of their Football Media partners, Keeper Skool.

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