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Folks :)

This will be Paolo Maldini's last WC, and the AC Milan man has been a stalwart of the Italian defence for as long as I can remember. He's a great player. I will be sorry to see him retire from international football after this. Any thoughts about Paolo, please post here. :)


Maldini makes World Cup history
OITA, Japan, June 13 (AFP)
Italy defender Paolo Maldini grabbed a slice of World Cup history here Thursday as the 'Azzurri' survived a nervy 1-1 draw with Mexico that saw both teams progress to phase two of the tournament.
Maldini has surpassed the mark of German legend Uwe Seeler who between 1958 and 1970 played 21 World Cup matches without leaving the field for a single minute.
Maldini, who will have turned 34 by the end of the tournament, went one better on Thursday when he completed his 22nd match without ever being substituted.
The AC Milan defender's feat is a remarkable one as Seeler played at a time when substitutes were not used except for 1970 - his last World Cup.
Maldini, in contrast, has played at a time when most coaches use all three substitutes during a match.

Source: Dailysoccer.com
 

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Another interesting fact, if Italy do go all the way, then Maldini will be the only player to ever win all three medals.

Bronze in 90, Silver in 94 and Gold in 2002. :cool:
 

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The way he is playing i would bench him

put coco on

sure he was great but he has cost us this tournament and will again

he is sadly a liablilty now

the team should come before his silly record

Lav
 

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He may be slow but he has the quality to lift the team. He is a leader. Remember how people were asking to drop Albertini. See how his absence has affected Italys midfield. He definitely should play. If not the quality, he can surely contribute in team spirit.
 

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i will always have a bias for maldini but he was injured for two months so his play should progress as the tournament progresses......he has looked garbage at times but steady at other times....
 

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Arrivederci Paolo: A Tribute To A Legend
News Archive

An Artist Bids Farewell (AP)
06/18/2002. Italian hearts worldwide are still crying, and I am as numb as I have ever been. The tears in my eyes are accompanied by the haunting feeling in my heart that someone has died. But, I have to live with it…I have no choice! I also have to live with the fact that the whole world seems to have turned against Italy and cruel jibes are the only condolences being offered. But, I cannot live with the fact that this is the last I have seen of Paolo Maldini in that beautiful "Azzurra" shirt.

At a time that can only be described as bizarre, I implore fans all over the planet to step aside from their prejudices, beliefs and perceptions of the "Squadra Azzurra" and spare a thought for the legend…the warrior…the symbol of defensive genius: Paolo Maldini.

"It is not an easy decision after 15 years wearing the Azzurra shirt," he had said earlier this year when he made public his decision to quit international football after the World Cup 2002. "It has been a long, rocky ride." And, how true his words were. Sent on as a substitute versus Yugoslavia in Split on March 31, 1988, Maldini made his debut at the tender age of nineteen. His club debut came at an even earlier age (sixteen) when Nils Leidholm decided that it was time to give the son of legendary defender Cesare Maldini a shot on the big stage. An astonishing 16 years later, he is recognized as perhaps one of the greatest defenders of all time and definitely one of the finest left-backs ever to grace the green.

But, for the man who has won everything imaginable at club level, things have not gone right internationally. In a career littered with 6 Scudetti (Italian championships), 3 European Cups, 4 Italian Super cups, 3 European Super cups and 2 World Club Championships, all Maldini has to show for his record-breaking 126 Italy caps are two losing finalist medals (World Cup 1994 and Euro 2000).

He was the youngest Italian at both Euro 88 and Italia 90, and until recently claimed that the saddest moment of his life had been the shoot-out elimination at the hands of Argentina in the semi-final of Italia 90. But, how things have gone sour for him over the years? First the despair of the shoot-out loss to Brazil in the World Cup final in 1994, then a similar disappointment versus the hosts in the quarter-finals of France 98, more recently the heart wrenching last-gasp defeat to France in the Euro 2000 final, and now the humiliating expulsion from World Cup 2002 at the hands of South Korea.

"If I had won today, I would have retired," said a notably subdued Maldini in an interview hours after going down in the Euro 2000 final. "It is strange how the Maldini family (his father Cesare, and he) have won so much at club level, yet have nothing to show with the Italy shirt," he lamented. Of course, victories are not dependent on the credentials of one man or on the sum of all the individuals in the team for that matter. World Cups and European Championships are won through teamwork, luck and a touch of inspiration. However, one look at this charismatic leader tells tales of how wrong it is to see him go this way.

When David Trezeguet put the ball in the back of Toldo's net and took off to celebrate what was the best moment of his career, few had a chance to see the expression on Maldini's face. It was that of a man who had been stabbed in the heart. He stood there with the grieved look that not even a widow mourning over her husband could have emulated. Tears streamed down the eyes of the veteran who had seen his team come within eight seconds of what would have been a deserved winners' medal, but in the blink of an eye, it was all lost!

Yet, in the minutes that would follow, the world was to witness the most amazing sights that one could ever conjure. A disconsolate Maldini was asked to lead his team on to the podium to receive the runners-up medals. And before my eyes, he stepped forth, looked the presenter squarely in the eyes and gave him his broadest smile. He accepted the medal with grace, firmly shook hands and acknowledged a few words of consolation. And yet, as he stepped down from the podium, one could see the smile disappear and the distraught expression return to his face. He was broken, but he didn't share it. Such was the class of this warrior!

With perhaps the best Italian team available since 1982, many thought that this was going to be Italy's year. It was not meant to be. But the piece of the puzzle that seems most awry is not that Italy have followed in France, Argentina and Portugal's footsteps and gone home, but the fact that the good Lord didn't spare Maldini even in his last game. As Ahn Jung-hwan rose to head the winner that would send Korea through and Italy home, Maldini watched from barely a foot away as his international career was brought to a sudden halt in the most cruel of ways. It should have ended differently, it could have ended differently, but it didn't.

San Paolo is done with international football, and considering his luck, he's probably glad that he is. Thankfully, we can still witness his prowess in defense and his renowned forays down the left for a few more years in Serie A, but what a shame that one of the true legends of Italian and world football, has to go in this way.

All we can hope for now is that he finds solace in the one place that won't let him down: his family. And who knows, fifteen years or so from now, two more Maldinis shall rise as Christian and Daniele Maldini will take the field to represent their country. And an old man by the name of Paolo Maldini will watch from the stands with pride as they do what he was not able to do: win something with the Azzurri.

Arrivederci San Paolo, and God bless!

Lo Scrivano

soccerage ;)
 

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Maldini swansong Friday 5 July, 2002

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The Azzurri¡¦s friendly against Slovenia on August 21 could see Paolo Maldini play his last game in the famous blue shirt.

The Milan defender, who announced his decision to quit international football prior to the 2002 World Cup, would be given huge send off, having made a record 126 appearances for the Italian national team. Though no official announcement has been made, the friendly is expected to be used as a farewell game for the long-serving captain.

Italy¡¦s premature exit from this summer¡¦s World Cup was an especially bitter pill to swallow for Maldini, who despite making his international debut back in 1988, has never won anything with the Azzurri. The closest he came was in the 1994 World Cup Final when Italy lost on penalties to Brazil. He also lost out on a European winners¡¦ medal when la Nazionale were beaten by a Golden Goal from French striker David Trezeguet.

channel4 ;)
 

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Maldini to play on for Italy? Tuesday 16 July, 2002

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Paolo Maldini has admitted that he could continue playing for the national team despite claiming that he would quit after the World Cup.

The Azzurri captain had openly stated that the 2002 tournament would signal an end to his international career.

However, national boss Giovanni Trapattoni wants Maldini to continue playing. And the Milan legend is considering his options.

"It is of great satisfaction that Trapattoni recently phoned me where he confirmed his faith in me as a player," Maldini told Milan Channel.

"Trap recommended that I waited a bit longer before officially announcing my retirement from the national team and I will do exactly that.

"At this moment in time I do think I will stick to the decision I made a few months ago but I will let everyone know my final plans in around 20 days time."

Maldini was set to win his 127th and last cap in an August friendly against Slovenia which was set to be his farewell game.

However, it is now a distinct possibility that the defender could continue for a little while longer in the national team.

Trap wants Maldini to carry on as there seems to be no natural replacement for the 34-year-old.

channel4 ;)
 

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