Paolo Maldini EAFC24

From Future Star to FC ICON: Paolo Maldini's journey from Milan prodigy to greatest defender of all time

Long before he burst onto the scene at AC Milan, Paolo Maldini's last name was legendary in Italy. His father, Cesare, was an icon for both Milan and the national team, a captain for both club and country. A dominant defender in his playing days, Cesare Maldini went on to manage AC Milan, too, making him one of the most important figures in history for one of the world's biggest clubs.

All of that is to say that the name Maldini carried weight and, for many, that weight would have been crushing. The moment Paolo Maldini was born, that weight was thrust upon him. He spent his entire childhood being looked at as Cesare's boy as he followed in the footsteps of his father for both club and country.

So how did Maldini shoulder that weight? How did he respond to the massive expectations thrown on him? Well, he simply became perhaps the best defender this sport has ever seen. Not bad... not bad, at all.

By the time his own career was over, Maldini redefined what his own last name meant. Over the course of two-and-a-half decades, Maldini won everything there is to win, reinventing himself as a player over and over again. His time at Milan was iconic. No player is more synonymous with a club than Maldini and Milan.

Born amid unrelenting pressure, Maldini exceeded every expectation, becoming an all-time great. To coincide with the release of his Future Stars Icon card on EA Sports FC24 on PlayStation 5, GOAL takes a look back at Maldini's journey and how he went from Future Star to ICON...