Friday, 30 January 2009

Lippi lines up Maldini testimonial

Italy coach Marcello Lippi has indicated that Paolo Maldini could be given one final international cap in a testimonial match.

Maldini with the 2007 FIFA Club World CupThe AC Milan defender retired from international football after the 2002 FIFA World Cup with a record of 126 caps for the Azzurri.

Lippi said the 40-year-old, who announced his intention to retire from football at the end of this season, should be honoured in a special match but that he thinks its unlikely it will be in next month's match against Brazil.

"He is one of the greatest players I have ever seen and I spoke with him about his decision to leave the Azzurri," Lippi said in an interview with Goal.

"He told me he was no longer interested in playing for the Nazionale, but I think an initiative like this final friendly is possible.

"Before it all he would have to announce his retirement from the sport, then we'll see if we can organise it all.

"We would have to talk to him and see if he is interested, then discuss it with the Federation, but before all this it is crucial that he retires from club football."

Maldini; who has lifted the European Cup five times with Milan, the World Club Cup three times and the Serie A title on seven occasions during his glittering club career that started in 1985; has only an international honour missing after finishing runners up at both the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the European Championships in 2000.

Some have called for Maldini to receive his 127th and final cap in the prestigious friendly match with Brazil at the Emirates Stadium in London on February 10.

"We would consider it, but at this moment it's just impossible," Lippi said. "There are less than two weeks until that game and it will be difficult to organise something like that so quickly.

"I have great respect for Maldini, a great player and professional, but he has not yet retired from professional football and we don't know when he will make that final decision."

Milan have already announced that Maldini's No.3 shirt will be retired and only seen again if one of his sons make their way to the senior side.

Source: C4 Football Italia

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