Former AC Milan and Italy defender Paolo Maldini will take part in this year's ATP World Tour, it has been announced.
Maldini, who was awarded a wild card for the Challenger event in his home city, progressed to the professional rounds proper after having won the pre-qualifying tournament with friend and coach Stefano Landonio.
While the news comes as a surprise to many, Landonio was confident he and his 48-year-old partner would give a good account of themselves.
“We knew we would play well,” he told Il Tennis Italiano.
“It was our first competitive tournament, but we have previously played in some exhibition matches for charity.”
Maldini has been a long-standing fan of the sport, but has only recently reached a good level after having hung up his boots.
When asked if his partner could have had a successful career in tennis had he not been a professional footballer, Landonio answered: “It's difficult to say.
“Having started to play later in life, just five-six years ago, he [Paolo] struggles a little bit in terms of technique.
“If he had started working on his technique before... who knows? Considering what he has done in the past, we know that he has amazing mental and physical abilities.
“He doesn't struggle in key moments and he is really strong.”
Maldini will take to the court again on June 26th, the day of his 49th birthday.