AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini turns 40

June 27th, 2008 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Milan, June 27 (DPA) AC Milan celebrated their captain Paolo Maldini’s 40th birthday Thursday after he signed yet another contract with the Devils. The defender, who is currently on holiday in the US, is set to begin his last Serie A season in August. It will be his 25th since his debut in January 1985 against Udinese, when he was 16.

“At 40, a footballer usually dwells on reminiscences,” the club’s website wrote. “But Paolo Maldini is still fresh, new, and the images of his latest feats are very recent.”

By signing a deal reportedly worth 1.5 million euros ($2.36 million) Maldini postponed a farewell to football that had been rumoured since he lifted the Club World Cup last December.

Maldini holds an all-time record of 617 games in the Italian top flight and played 1009 games in Milan’s red-black jersey.

He also boasts the record of games played with Italy’s national team, 126, with seven goals scored, and a world record of 173 international club games.

Among the titles won with Milan are seven Serie A scudetti, five European club trophies, two Intercontinental Cups and the 2007 Club World Cup.

He began his career as left-flank defender, then moved to the centre of defence, but showed to able to play also on the right.

“He’s been the best for many years and if he is still playing now, it means he is far above the rest,” said Giorgio Chiellini, a young international whom many indicate as Maldini’s successor.

“He has been a model for me and many players of my generation,” said the Juventus defender, who turns 24 in August. “Being compared to him can only please me. He has a class and an elegance which I’ll never be able to have.”

Maldini successfully underwent knee surgery in May and in the next season is likely to play as part-time defender in a backline that Milan have strengthened with the arrival of international Gianluca Zambrotta from Barcelona.

Despite the triumphs in the Champions League and the Club World Cup in 2007, the Devils played a dismal Serie A season.

They failed to qualify for the elite continental tournament, having to settle for the UEFA Cup, the only major trophy missing from their prestigious collection.

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