Sunday, 16 December 2007

Maldini to call it a day

AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini has announced that he will retire from football at the end of the season, ending one of the most decorated careers in recent times.

The 39-year-old defender revealed his decision following Milan's 4-2 triumph against Boca Juniors to lift the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.

Following the game, which resulted in his 26th honour with the Rossoneri, he said: "This victory is so great because it's really hard to play with a great team like Milan when you are 39 years old like me.

"This club have always given me the possibility to play for important trophies and today I feel very satisfied with what I have done. I can quit playing without any regrets or sorrow. I have had all the things I could ask for in my career," added Italy's most capped international, with 126 appearances to his name prior to his last outing in 2002.

Maldini has lifted the European Cup five times – during a career that began with his debut in 1985 – the most recent of which being last May's 2-1 win against Liverpool in Athens.

Now in his 23rd campaign, he has appeared a record 604 times in Serie A, scoring 28 goals and winning the Italian title on seven occasions. He also won five European Super Cups, one Italian Cup, four Italian Super Cups and three world club titles.

The only success missing in Maldini's distinguished career is an international honour with the Azzurri. He was on the losing side in the 1994 World Cup final when Brazil won on penalties, and in Euro 2000, when France took the trophy with a 2-1 victory in extra-time.

Milan will retire Maldini's No.3 shirt at the end of this season but it could be seen again if one of his sons makes the senior side and his eldest is in the youth squad.

"I'm proud of being part of a club that always win something important," Maldini continued. "I'll quit playing next June but until that moment I will enjoy every match I play even if I feel pain in my knee, but I won't postpone my retirement."

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti added: "Maldini has shown what a great champion he is today. He is 39 and has returned to play on the left flank without problems. This shows his personality. Players like him give confidence to the whole team."

FINAL: [Boca Juniors 2-4 Milan]

Source: UEFA

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