- Paolo Maldini
Paolo Cesare Maldini was born on the 26th of June 1968. He is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a left back and central defender for A.C. Milan and the Italian 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 before retiring in 2002 with 126 caps, a record which was 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 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.
Capitano as he is fondly called, 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.