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Calcio Debate: The History Of The Legendary Paolo Maldini

Player Details:

Name: Paolo Cesare Maldini

Date Of Birth: June 26, 1968

Place Of Birth: Milan, Italy

Position: Defender

Clubs: Milan (1984-2009)

International: Italy (1988-2002)

Timeline Of Playing Career:

1978: Joins Milan’s youth team as a 10-year-old, and goes on to spend seven years with them.

1985: January 20 – Makes Serie A debut against Udinese as a 16-year-old, coming on as a half time substitute for the injured Sergio Battistini. It would be his only appearance for the season.

1985/86: Earns a permanent spot in Nils Liedholm’s Milan line-up, as the first choice left back.

1986: Called up to the Italy Under-21 side, coached by his father Cesare.

1987/88:
Wins his first ever Scudetto with Milan on the last day of the season, edging out an impressive Napoli outfit by three points.

1988: March 31 – Makes his debut for Italy in a friendly against Yugoslavia that ended 1-1.

1988:
June 10-22 – Plays all four matches at EURO 1988 in his first major international tournament.

1989: May 24 – Wins his first ever European Cup, as Milan smash four past Steaua Bucharest to win their third ever title.

1989: Named as Under-21 European Footballer of the Year.

1990: May 23 – A second consecutive European Cup for Maldini and his team-mates, as they edge Benfica 1-0.

1990: June-July – Participates in his first World Cup in Italy, only to be eliminated in the semi-final on penalties by Argentina.

1991/92: His Milan side win their 12th Scudetto, in an unbeaten season.

1992/93: Wins his third Scudetto with the Rossoneri, in a season where the champions finished four points clear of their cross town rivals Inter.

1993: January 20 – Scores his first international goal for Italy in a friendly against Mexico (2-0), exactly eight years after making his league debut.

1993/94: Celebrates his third consecutive Scudetto with Milan, despite his side managing to score only 36 goals in 34 games.

1994:
May 18 – Milan continue their dominance in Europe, as they claim their first ‘Champions League’ crown by thrashing Barcelona 4-0.

1994: June-July – Captains his country for the first time at a major tournament, at the World Cup in the USA. His side go on to lose the final against Brazil on penalties, with Roberto Baggio missing the last kick.

1995/96: Milan celebrate their fourth Scudetto in five seasons, with several dominant performances, including a 7-1 demolition of Cremonese.

1998/99:
Maldini’s sixth domestic championship of his career, as the Rossoneri leave it until the very last day to clinch the title over Lazio.

1999: June 5 – Scores his seventh and last ever goal for Italy in Bologna against Wales in a EURO qualifier.

2000:
July 2 – Italy narrowly lose the final of EURO 2000 to France after being defeated by a David Trezeguet golden goal. It would be the closest Maldini would ever come to winning a significant international tournament.

2000:
October 7 – Breaks Dino Zoff’s Italian record for international appearances after his 113th match in a World Cup qualifier against Romania.

2002:
June 18 – Makes his final appearance for the Azzurri, as the Italians are controversially eliminated by South Korea at the 2002 World Cup.

2003: May 28 – The Rossoneri claim their sixth Champions League triumph, following a victory on penalties against Juventus at Old Trafford.

2003: May 31 – Milan win their only Coppa Italia in Maldini’s time at the club, defeating Roma 6-3 on aggregate, following a 2-2 draw in the second leg.

2003/04: This would be Maldini’s seventh and final Serie A title, after his side cruised to their 17th championship, seeing off the second placed Roma by 11 points.

2005: May 25 – Despite scoring the fastest ever goal in a European Clubs’ Cup final after just 51 seconds, Maldini labels his side’s failure to win the Champions League against Liverpool as the "worst moment of his career".

2005: September 25 – This time he breaks Dino Zoff’s Serie A appearance record after playing his 571st match against Treviso.

2007: May 13 – Becomes the first player to make 600 appearances in Serie A, in a 1-1 draw away to Catania.

2007: May 23 – His side’s seventh Champions League would go on to be his final major success in European football, as Milan avenge their disastrous defeat to Liverpool two years prior, with a 2-1 victory over the Reds in Greece.

2007: December 16 – Announces his decision to retire from football at the end of the 2007-08 season, following Milan’s 4-2 triumph in the Club World Cup final against Boca Juniors.

2008: February 16 – Makes 1000th senior appearance for Milan and Italy combined, after coming on as a substitute against Parma.

2008: March 5 – Reconsiders decision to retire at the end of the season, following Milan’s elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Arsenal.

2008: June 6 – Signs a contract extension for a further year with Milan.

2009: April 18 – Officially announces that he will retire at the end of the season, and this time there would be no going back.

2009: May 24 – Makes his final appearance for the Rossoneri at San Siro, as Milan go down in a thrilling match against Roma 3-2.

2009:
May 31 – Paolo Maldini will play his last match as a professional footballer, against Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi stadium.

Other Interesting Facts:


- Maldini supported Juventus as a youngster, which was the home of his boyhood hero Roberto Bettega.

- Before earning his first call-up to the Azzurri, he made 12 appearances and scored an impressive five goals for the Under-21’s.

- He captained Italy on a record 74 occasions, in the final eight years of his international career.

- His goal in the 2005 Champions League final against Liverpool makes him the oldest player to ever score in a final, at the age of 36 years and 11 months.

- Maldini has participated in eight UEFA Champions League finals throughout his career, equalling the record held by Francicsco Gento who played for Real Madrid.

- Goal.com launched a campaign earlier this year to see Paolo Maldini play one more match in the Azzurri colours. Despite the proposition attracting the interest of many, including Maldini and Marcello Lippi, the player seems likely to reject the opportunity, as he declared that he wanted to end his career in an “official” manner.

“Paolo Maldini is a true legend of world football, who will undoubtedly be forever remembered as one of the greatest to ever play the game. All the best to him as he prepares for his final match against Fiorentina this weekend, and for the future.”

Adrian Del Monte, Goal.com