Paulo Maldini had one of the longest careers in football, playing into his 40s.
Maldini’s career was so long that he defended against Platini, Maradona, Zidane, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic and Cristiano. Players from different generations. That tells a lot about his longevity.
Paolo Cesare Maldini, born on the 26th of June 1968 is an Italian former professional footballer who played primarily as a left back and central defender for AC Milan and the Italy national team. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest ever defenders and as one of the greatest players of all time.
As the Milan and Italy captain for many years he was nicknamed “Il Capitano” (“The Captain”).
Maldini held the record for most appearances in Serie A, with 647, until 2020, when he was overtaken by Gianluigi Buffon.
He is currently serving as Technical Director for Milan, as well as being co-owner of USL Championship club Miami FC.
Maldini spent all 25 seasons of his playing career in the Serie A with Milan, before retiring at the age of 41 in 2009.
He won 25 trophies with Milan: the European Cup/UEFA Champions League five times, seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana titles, four European/UEFA Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Maldini 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. Following his retirement after the 2008–09 season, Milan retired his number 3 shirt.
Maldini made his debut for Italy in 1988, playing for 14 years before retiring in 2002 with 7 goals and 126 caps, an appearance record at the time, which has since been surpassed by Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon.
Maldini captained Italy for eight years and held the record for appearances as Italy’s captain (75), until he was again overtaken by Cannavaro and Buffon.
With Italy, Maldini took part in four FIFA World Cups and three UEFA European Championships. 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 came second to George Weah for FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995. He also placed third in the Ballon d’Or in 1994 and 2003. In 2002, he was chosen as a defender on the FIFA World Cup Dream Team, and in 2004 Pelé named him in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players. He was also selected for the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020.
Maldini held the record for most appearances in UEFA Club competitions, with 174, until he was overtaken by Iker Casillas in 2017.
He is the record appearance holder for Milan with 902 appearances in all competitions, and is one of only thirty-two players to have made over 1,000 career appearances.
In December 2012, he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.
Maldini’s father Cesare also played for and captained Milan, and was a successful national under-21 manager, who also coached Milan and the senior national side during the 1998 World Cup.