This is the translation of a special forum held on the premises of la Gazetta last Thursday in honour of San Paolo’s 720 games for Milan in his career. La Gazzetta also invited a few people to honour this new record by the legendary Milan Captain. Enjoy! FORZA SAN PAOLO!!!
Cesare Maldini, is it true that as kid your son Paolo was a Juve fan?
Cesare Maldini: It’s true. Paolo had a poster of Juventus team in his room and Boniperti was one of his favorite players and he was always asking me about him. But it was Paolo whom chose Milan. When I realized that he was able to play, I asked him: “Milan or Inter” and he chose Milan.”
Mauro Tassotti: “Milan or Inter? Let us imagine that the mister (referring to C. Maldini) would have told him: “Milan or Milan?”.
Paolo Maldini: “No, it’s true. It was I whom chose. I was 10 years old.”
C. Maldini: “He followed the normal path, I took him to Linate and let him in the hands of Maestro Braga, whom is great with kids. Braga asked me where to play him and I answered him: where you want and I left because I saw there was a lot of people around. He put my son on the right wing and an hour later, I went to pick him up. It all began that day.”
P. Maldini: “There was a reason behind me being a fan of Juventus. I liked a lot the national team of 1978, which was full of Bianconeri. This is the first souvenir I have of football. I started on the right wing, then on the left, and at the end, I moved back, first right back since on the left back position, there was already Lorenzini.”
Nils Liedholm, on January 20th, 1985, you made Paolo start in Serie A. A very courageous move, given his very young age.
Nils Liedholm: “I believed that the way he was built physically and with a father like Cesare, whom had written the history of Milan and whom had taught him everything about football, could have played in Serie A without any problem. In Udine, Paolo was tranquil and quite on the bench, then someone got hurt…”
P. Maldini: “Andrea Manzo”.
N. Liedholm: “You always remember him…It seemed to me natural to make Paolo enter; I don’t even remember in what position. That Milan played really great…And then, I was used to youngsters. In 1978, I was the one to make Baresi start in Serie A, but I was afraid to lose my job as Rocco didn’t want an 18 years old libero/sweeper. With Roma, I gave Ancelotti his debut in Serie A at the age of 18. In that regard, Cesare, whom was coaching Parma at the time, helped me a lot. One day, I went to Parma with my son and Carletto played magnificently, so great that I don’t remember him playing that good again anymore.”
Franco Baresi: “What I remember from the debut of Paolo, is that it was really natural. I remember his great natural”.
C. Maldini: “One day, Spadino
Selvaggi, told me: “nice lad your son”. I remember, that as soon as he entered on the pitch, he started to impress me.”
Filippo Galli: “ It was clear that Paolo would have gone to achieve great things. He was well built and strong physically. At the opposite of me…”
Bergomi, with 758 official matches, you are the Maldini of Inter. What does Paolo Maldini represent to you? Just an opponent?
Guiseppe Bergomi: “Duing a derby, there was a foul for us and he didn’t even give me enough time to take the free-kick, as he came right away shake my hand. Paolo is also a very generous guy, he helps me to raise money for the group of the Bindun. Our relationship continues. He will beat my record, it’s just as he deserves it.”
P. Maldini: “At that time, there was a special link between Interisti and Milanisti as the defence of the national team was completely from Milano: Baresi and I, with “Zio” Bergomi, Ferri and Zenga.”
Between you, teammates of the defence and Paolo, was the rapport between you, only professional?
Mauro Tassotti: “Our rapport has been a very particular experience. It’s always been the case, even to this day and that has characterized the work of Milan, even till today.”
P. Maldini: “Mauro was my roommate when we were playing away from home.”
F. Galli: “From time to time, I also joined you guys to lighten up the atmosphere.”
M. Tassotti: “I remember that with Sacchi, he was used to make a round of all the rooms to check that we were respecting the curfew, at 9.30 at which time all the lights were shut down and at that time, Sacchi had already been to check each room at least 4 or 5 times. And then, we were continue to talk once Sacchi had left.”
Alberto Zaccheroni, you have been the coach of the last Scudetto of Maldini: what struck you about Paolo?
Zaccheroni: “Paolo is the biggest talent and best player I have ever worked with. Even to this day, in Milan, I believe he still represents a point of reference for all He doesn’t speak much, but he is the first to arrive at Milanello and the last to leave. He plays the friendly game of the Thursday afternoon, against either the Primavera or an amateur side as if it were finale of the Champions Cup. Paolo has a great charisma. One observes the way he behaves and how hard he works and you realize: This is how it is at Milan. For a coach, it’s a great pleasure to have such a player in the team.”
For those who have had Paolo as a teammate, what has changed in the rapport with him?
Ancelotti: “For me, absolutely nothing. Maybe the question will arise when I’ll have to make some choices. So far, Paolo has always played, it could become a problem the day when he will be on the bench. One thing for sure, it will be another coach to do that. Looking in retrospect, I have once left him on the bench, against Brescia. Deep down, one lives also with those emotions.”
P. Maldini: “Yes but you made me play in the 2nd half.”
Who among all of you would have never imagined such a career for Paolo?
Liedholm: “I didn’t have a lot of dialogue with the players, but with the physical attributes of his, with his pace and with such a father, Paolo would have remained on the field for a long time. And this is precisely what has happened.”
C. Maldini: “His qualities were obvious, he who works that hard in the world of football, can only harvest certain things. However, I honestly didn’t imagine him to have the kind of career he’s been having.
F. Galli: “Paolo was on the right and on the left. An example for all. At the beginning, it is possible that everything goes your way, but the most difficult thing is to confirm it and to remain at that level. And he has managed to do that.”
P. Maldini: “Thanks to me, the left foot of Filippo has improved. One year, I played in central defence with Franco and this way, he (Filippo) moved to the left.”
F. Baresi: “Paolo has demonstrated continuity in everything. During my career, I have had great advantages as I have had these guys around me. I am honored that someone like him beats my record of games played. He deserves it.”
P. Maldini: “I’m almost embarrassed. I was very moved when I beat Rivera’s record. I am moved as well now that I have reached 720 matches.”
Tassotti, Galli, Baresi and Maldini, a mythical and legendary defence, the first of the Great Milan. Were there ever any misunderstandings between you?
F. Galli: “Sometimes, I didn’t understand the off-side trap.”
F. Baresi: “With Paolo, it was impossible to get upset. And when he did commit a mistake, no one told him anything.”
M. Tassotti: “We were all able to think as one person. We have played so many years together that every single movement was a movement by all of us.”
N. Liedholm: “Each Thursday, these 4 played 20 minutes against the Primavera of Capello. And in 4 against 11, the Primavera never
scored against them.”
How long can Paolo still play at those levels of excellence?
A. Zaccheroni: “Without injuries, in this role and with Nesta beside him, at least 5 more years.”
P. Maldini: “But at this age, it’s difficult to make long term projects. My contract runs until 2005 and then, we’ll see.”
A. Zaccheroni: “As Inter’s coach, I repeat that you can easily play 5 more years.”
C. Ancelotti: “From the physical point of view, I can see him even manage the games during the week. First let him arrive till 2005, then we’ll see.”
Let us talk about the Ballon d’Or. You, would you give it to Paolo?
F. Galli: “He’s been at the highest level for 20 years…”
M. Tassotti: “Paolo deserves it because he had a terrific season winning the Champions League and the European Super Cup. This award is not for his career but his past year. However, being a defender, doesn’t help it…”
A. Zaccheroni: “They refused to give it to Baresi but they gave it to Sammer.”
G. Bergomi: “He deserves it, but the fact that last year, they didn’t give it to Roberto Carlos makes me think.”
F. Galli: “I am fan, but Paolo is from another category than Roberto Carlos.”
Phone call from Fabio Capello: “When I think about Paolo, an anecdote comes to mind. Once, as the coach of the Primavera, playing away to Torino, one of the coaches of Torino…”
C. Maldini: “Radice, it was Radice…”
F. Capello: “…asked me for what reasons I was playing the son of Cesare Maldini. I answered him: “we will talk about that a few years later, this kid is a true fuoriclasse
.” By the way, Paolo, if you decided to come back with the national team, it would be a great thing.”
P. Maldini: “It’s hard to say good-bye to the national team, but it’s also difficult to make a U-turn.”
F. Capello: “Yes, but sometimes, one can change their mind.”
P. Maldini: “I will think about it, but the decision has already been made.”
The following data come from the Official site. They had posted it last week, prior to the Milan-Juve game.
The Curriculum Vitae of Paolo Maldini
Some of the most important dates in his career
01 May 1984: Debut in Milan in a friendly game in Angera (at the age of 15!!!).
20 January 1985: Debut in Serie A with Milan at Udinese.
08 April 1985: Wins the Cannes International Tournament with the Italian Under 17 Team.
21 August 1985: Debut in Coppa Italia.
18 September 1985: Debut in European Cups.
12 November 1986: Debut with the Italian Under 21 (at the age of 18!!!).
04 January 1987: First goal in Serie A.
11 February 1987: First goal with the Italian Under 21 team.
28 October 1987: Debut with the Italian Olympic Team.
31 March 1988: First Cap with Italy in Yugoslavia.
19 February 1989: 100th game in Serie A.
04 October 1992: 200th game in Serie A.
20 January 1993: First goal with the Italian NT.
17 February 1995: 300th game in Serie A.
25 April 1999: 400th game in Serie A.
10 September 2000: 113th Cap with Italy, equalling the record of Dino Zoff against Romania, in Milano.
17 June 2002: 126th Cap with Italy, all time record.
15 March 2003: 500th game in Serie A.
22 March 2003: 501st game in Serie A, equalling the record of Gianni Rivera.
28 May 2003: Wins his first Champions Cup as the Captain of Milan, his 4th in total.
1 Man, 1000 Matches.
721 matches with Milan and counting, in all competitions as of today, including the game in Bruges.
126 Caps for Italy.
100 friendly games with Milan between 1984 and 1997.
50 friendly games with Milan between 1997 and now and counting.
6 Scudetti: 1988, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1999.
4 Champions Cup: 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003.
4 European Super Cup: 1989, 1990, 1995, 2003.
2 Intercontinental Cup: 1989, 1990.
1 Coppa Italia: 2003.
3 Italian Super Cup: 1992, 1993, 1994.
Mundialito Clubs: 1987.
Military World Cup with the Italian Military Team: 1989.
Coppa Disciplina A: 1989.
Trofeo Berlusconi: 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2002.
Capodano Tournament, Oviedo Tournament, Memorial Giorgio Ghezzi, Glass Point Cup, Opel Master, Trofeo Tim, etc...
Bravo (Guerin Sportivo) in 1989.
Pallone d'Oro (El Pais, Uruguay) in 1995.
Calciatore d'Oro in 1995.
Most Valuable Player of the 2003 Champions League Final.
To all the above, one can add, some other outstanding achievements for San Paolo, such as:
He won the Champions League/Champions Cup, more than any other player (with Costacurta) still active (4 times and counting...
). In the history of the Champions Cup, only one or 2 players have won more Champions Cup than him, those being the captain of the Real Madrid of the 60, who won 5 Champions Cup. He has a very valid shot at reaching that record as well.
Two more titles can be won by San Paolo before the end of the calendar year, one with the team and one individually.
After reading all these, only one word:
FORZA SAN PAOLO!!!!
IMMENSO!!!UNICO!!! IRRAGGIUNGIABILE!!! INCOMPARABILE!!!