“AC Milan are not a magical Team anymore” – Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini gave a Rare and candid interview that was printed in Repubblica Sport today. Here’s the English translation of that Must Read Interview..

Is it true that you will be a candidate for the parliamentary elections in Berlusconi’s party?

“Since I retired i don’t speak much to the media and I hope to be very clear the few times that i do. Yet every now and then false information is printed.

However I never received any proposals from Berlusconi,since 2009 to now. From my last game at San Siro I saw him only at the party celebrating his 25 years at Milan. Since then I have never heard from him. Additionally and perhaps more importantly, i have no intentions to go into politics.”

Some of your former teammates Like Kaladze in Georgia, Shevchenko in Ukraine and Weah in Liberia, have become politicians..

“But those men are symbols in their respective countries, countries that are in a particular situation. Italy is, or it should be, a country with democracy that is a little more solid.”

It has already been three and a half years since your retirement..

“Yes, but it does not scare me. I did a lot in football. For 31 years,since when I started in the Milan youth academy. I have a past and a strong bond with Milan,it is hard for me to imagine myself in another place.

However, I am not offering myself to Milan. This “risk” to remain outside the world of football, is my choice. I am an entrepreneur in the real estate business. I started this back when I was playing and now i am involved in it full time.”

What about Coaching ?

“I never thought about that at all. I saw my father when he was a coach and the nomadic life he lead. That’s Not for me. Even if i become a coach, I would have to be open to all possibilities, Like Leonardo: and not restrict myself to coaching only Milan. And since I don’t think I will work in another Italian club, the chances that I coach are as good as zero. I do not like all the politics, so any involvement in football would have to be something strictly related to football and nothing more.”

like what ?

“I can bring my knowledge of football.The way players evolve and experiences that I gained in my long playing career. I think I have lived all along the evolution of the modern game. From being the Captain of AC Milan from ‘97 on to Captaining the national team from ‘94 to 2002.”

What about joining FIGC, UEFA or FIFA

“I never thought about such things seriously. Just having a role or a position of representation does not interest me at all.”

You are an untapped resource. Do you not fear that all your knowledge will go to waste..

“But first you must determine if I am seen as a resource or as a problem. You want me to tell you what really gives me trouble?”


“Let’s talk about Milan, because I had the good fortune to be there for 25 wonderful years. Well, when I arrived, I found a great foundation for building a great team: great players and great people. Berlusconi had come and taught us to think big. Of course, he had the money to buy the best, But he also gave us a new mentality. Sacchi had the idea that the club should become a model for the type of game teams should play to win. In short, we created something truly magical thanks to the personality of those who were already there and those who had joined us.

Then, little by little this magic was lost and Milan went from being a magical team to being just another team. And you know why? Because – unlike other big European clubs with a similar past, like Real, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, where people who wrote the history of the team went back to work there. To pass on to young players what they had learned.

However in Milan the management itself stopped any such interactions. In the current Milan team there is no one who has made history with the team, who is playing a significant role.

Look at the history of Bayern and Real and the roles Beckenbauer, Hoeness, Rummenigge, Butragueño, Gallego, Valdano played. When new people arrive this guidance and this magic is passed on through those who have been there for long. AC Milan has always been a great team, even in the days of my father. But the greatest moment of magic lasted 25 years and now it’s lost.

Is it an irreversible process

“Assessing the ideology of this Milan team is difficult. 12 players with great personalities left in the summer and the team had a difficult start to the season. It seems to me that they don’t really have a plan for the future.Lets wait for the winter market.”“

Galliani has often explained that it was all planned and that this is the year 1 of the new project

“Frankly I see little planning. Maybe I’m wrong, but certain choices they have made with players, are far from the idea they are trying to convey.”

Berlusconi spoke of a new policy where Milan will only sign U-22 players

“The really good young players cost upwards of €20m and there are not many to be frank. Rejuvenating the team with young players is necessary and i agree to that but Braida alone can’t be expected to..”

..that’s why We increasingly rely on a outside sources like Raiola

“It’s been the method in recent years. I’ll tell you one thing. The last two coaches have tried to get me involved. Leonardo wanted me at Milanello: “Don’t even do anything – he told me – we just need your presence.” But I told him that it did not make sense to be at Milanello without any role.”

You could have been the Sports director?

“Galliani, in the presence of Leo, told me that the position of Sporting director no longer exists at Milan”

..and Allegri

“last year Allegri needed someone who had the personality to talk with the major players – with Ibra,Boateng and others in an authoritative way. And he thought that I, with my past experience could do it.

Allegri called me when i was on vacation in the states and told me ‘Paolo, how do I know if I have done something wrong tactically or in the management of the locker room’. He needed me to manage the group for him. We met, we spoke on the phone and I warned him that this could be a problem for him.

Allegri told me he had spoken with the club and everything was ok. Soon after he SMS’d me to tell me that he would call in a few days. It was October 2011, I have not heard from him since then. I have never tried to reach him either. “”

What do you feel towards Milan today ?

“Sometimes I reflect on the past. We were aware of our role. The players,the managers,the executives, Everyone undertook their responsibilities without interference. There was so much valuable knowledge on the subject of football that Only a fool wouldn’t learn anything. “

So the feeling is of disappointment ?

“I would say the taste is bitter and not just for me. It’s bitter because everything that was created together has now disappeared. Many of my former team-mates feel the same way. “

Have you ever discussed this with Berlusconi ?

“I told the president whatever i had to before quitting. As long as the work of everyone is paid in the right manner the economic aspect is not important. Neither is being in the spotlight important, for I already have far too much media exposure for my reserved nature. Rather, what’s important is the satisfaction of doing something important and passionate for a club that has given me everything. That is priceless.”

At the same time Levels in Serie A have fallen

“Milan’s record of 56 games unbeaten is now worth a lot more because it came during the times of the so-called “Sette Sorelle (seven sisters)”. Parma had won the UEFA Cup, Lazio the Cup Winners’ Cup and Italian Clubs dominated all over Europe. Nowadays, Juve wins hands down in the league and are the only Italian club that can do something in the Champions League.”

Meanwhile Italian clubs are turning to the youth..

“Yes but it wasn’t a planned process, it was very random occurrence.A result of the circumstances. But it will still do a lot of good. De Sciglio starting for Milan ? A few years ago that wouldn’t have been possible.”

They say he’s your heir…

“Comparisons will always be there but they never do any good to emerging players. He is a straightforward player who does everything well. Playing in a derby is not easy and i was impressed by the simplicity of his playing style. I think he is a balanced guy which is important when you play for Milan because you will feel too much pressure if you are not balanced. Another talented fullback is Santon and I think that playing abroad will make him better. ”

Is the great school of Italian defense running dry ?

“It’s not just the problem of Italian football. In the world today, Thiago Silva is the only defender who is capable of changing a game. Learning to run after the opponents is much harder and less rewarding than to attack.

I see a lot of teams that attack but lack a defense. Today, the most difficult thing is defense. Now the full-backs are no longer defenders, central midfielders don’t have a defensive outlook. There is only one team to which this point of view doesn’t apply, because it is good in everything, even in defense. Barcelona is unique.”

Will this Barça will make history Like Ajax of Michels and Sacchi’s Milan ?

“Certainly. It ‘a pleasure to see Barça play. It’s a team of players blessed with the greatest technical skills. Apart from a couple of players, Barça is composed of players who aren’t so tall and yet they do not let the opponents see much of the ball. “

Is Messi as good as Maradona ?

“He’s at the same level. He Always plays with high intensity, He is young and will still have time to win with Argentina as Maradona did . For me he is definitely stronger than Cristiano Ronaldo, especially since I’m used to seeing the man and not just the player. The way Messi behaves on the field is an example for the kids. ”

Who is the best Italian footballer today?

“Pirlo is a unique player,Buffon an exceptional goalkeeper,Barzagli perhaps the best defender and Daniele De Rossi a great midfielder. Right now I really like El Shaarawy. I am surprised by his strength and his ability to score. I hope he stays humble, puts his head down and keeps working hard.”

and Balotelli?

“He must find peace of mind. If not, then he will always be just an eternal promise.”

Pato wants to go back to Brazil?

“I said a year ago that Pato can become one of the top three in the world. Today I suspend that judgment.”

What do you think of the policies of Milan and the possibility that Berlusconi, sooner or later, will sell the club?

“I think the idea of rejuvenating the team is shared by all and people are even willing to wait a few years. But there must be a solid project. It can’t just last a few months. And to win, young people are not enough, you need experience too. Many quality players would still come to Milan, for what it used to be. Milan’s charm is a strength not to be wasted.

Milan played well at times this year, Like against Juve. But with Barça in the Champions League, few teams can expect to emerge unscathed. And for Milan to get into the top three in Serie A, We will need a miracle. At most i see a Europa League qualification, although there are many teams ahead of us.”

Is it true that during your playing career you were close to signing for Chelsea and Juve..

“I recently met Boniperti and he confirmed that Juve wanted me. Vialli at Chelsea called me in ‘96. But I preferred to stay at Milan, It ‘was the right choice. Then, Arsenal called me and sent a quotation.There was also the request from Ferguson and another one from Real Madrid. The truth is that very often these requests coincided with tough times,times when it would probably have been easier to accept. But i chose to stay.”

According to the French press Ancelotti wanted you to coach the defenders at PSG..

”..But I already said that coaching does not interest me. I was a guest of Leonardo in Paris. Just a guest, no proposal.”

As a former captain, Don’t you think that Milan has lost its identity,Changing a Captain every three games ?

“You have injuries and the traumatic changes of last summer to blame for that. I remember when i inherited the captain’s band from Franco Baresi. Capello asked everyone about their choice for the new captain.Few Others, like Billy Costacurta, were entitled to it as well. Together We decided in the locker room and I had no problem taking over that responsibility. ”

Your jersey number 3 was withdrawn. Only your sons Christian(16) and Daniel(11),who currently play full-back and center back in Milan Youth Academies can wear it…

“I can imagine the kind of pressure that they must be under. I had that too as the son of Cesare Maldini,the Captain of AC Milan But now it must be even greater for my sons. For now,I am only interested in my sons doing well in sports, in school and in their relationships with others. ”

Studying and playing sports at a high level, in Italy, is not easy.

“Certainly. A lot of guys are uprooted and in general a school doesn’t always help. I remember that, even though I had the good fortune to grow and study in Milan,In high school I had a teacher who purposely called me “the footballer”. We could use a setup like in America where in schools and universities, those who have talent in sports are treated the same was as a mathematical genius.”

What matters most, Apart from footballing technique ?

Values. They build character and most of all a sense of loyalty. Sometimes they make you take a longer route but in the end it’s all worth it.