As Cesare Maldini’s auspicious craeer was beginning to peter out, Paolo’s was starting to show the potential that would lead to greatness, reaching heights that not only his father but the finest soccer players from all over the World could only hope to aspire to.
Maldini junior spent all of his 25 seasons as a footballer wearing the red and black striped of A.C. Milan, eventually hanging up his boots at the age of forty. During his playing career, Paolo’s Milan won seven Italian Serie A championships, one Coppa Italia and five Supercoppa Italiana. On the European scene, Paolo added five UEFA Champions League Cups, five UEFA Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup winning medals to his collection.
Maldini made his league debut in 1985 at the age of 16. and such was his talent that he became a regular in AC Milan squad in season 1986/87
With the eighteen year old Maldini holding down a regular place in the first team, Milan won the 1987-88 league championship (Scudetto) his first trophy, in an incredible career and one that saw Maldini go on to break many records on the domestic club scene. His first came on the 25th September 2005, when Paolo Maldini broke the Serie A appearance record, playing in his 571st league match, breaking goalkeeper Dino Zoff’s record. By February 2008, Maldini had made 1,000 senior appearances at club and international level.
Playing for Milan, Maldini took part in no less than eight UEFA Champions League finals, a record bettered by no less than Francisco Gento, of Real Madrid. As captain of the club, Maldini has lifted the trophy five times, as well as holding the record as the player to score the fastest-ever goal in a European Clubs’ Cup final just 51 seconds into the match, as well as the oldest player (37) with the same goal in the final against Liverpool in 2005
On the international level, Paolo Maldini, played for the Italian national team for fourteen seasons, from his debut in 1988 till retiring in 2002. During that time he made 126 international appearances and notched up seven goals.
Maldini enjoyed the distinction of being was called up by his father Cesare to become part of the Italian U-21 side, where his defensive midfielder talents stood out, when he played twelve times, scoring five goals. There was no holding the young Maldini back and made his national team ( Azzurri )debut at the age of nineteen on 31 March 1988,.
He was awarded the captain’s armband for 1994 World Cup, which he wore with distinction till he retired as an international player at the end of the 2002 World Cup, having worn the armband a record 74 times Sadly Maldini never won or led Italy to an international trophy as Italy’s most capped player.,.
Maldini announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2008-09 seasons. On 17 May 2009, Maldini played his 900th game, appearing for Milan in a league game against Udinese and his last game as an active player was on 31 May 2009, in the last match of the season, against Fiorentina, which Milan won 2-0.
When Paolo Maldini retired, so did his number 3 shirts, with the promise that it will only be worn if one of the third generation of Maldinis make it to the AC Milan first team squad. So far, Paolo Maldini’s oldest son and Cesare Maldini’s grandson Christian is shaping up well to take up the challenge. Just seventeen he is currently a member of the Milan youth squad, displaying the sterling defensive talents that made the Maldini dynasty so long a feature at Milan and on the Italian international scene