He is Italian Calcio, both figuratively and literally. He plans to retire after a stellar 25 year career with AC Milan in May.
But he may play one more time for the Azzurri where he holds the record of 126 caps. His tenure with Italy spanned from 1988 to 2002. He captained the team 64 times (second best behind Giacinto Facchetti with 70). His final game for the Azzurri ended with a bitter extra time loss to South Korea. He also won a Silver Medal at World Cup 1994 and Euro 2000, respectively.
"Mi farebbe piacere giocare un'ultima partita. Non sarebbe un ritorno in Nazionale - precisa Maldini -, ma l'occasione per la celebrazione di una carriera comunque lunga in azzurro, per questo mi farebbe proprio piacere."
"La sfida contro il Brasile è vicinissima - ha raccontato il c.t. -, mancano meno di due settimane e probabilmente sarà difficile da capire ma non si può organizzare una cosa del genere in così poco tempo. Ho un grande rispetto per Maldini, è stato un grandissimo giocatore ed un grandissimo professionista.
Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 3 February 2009.
"It would please me to play a last game. It wouldn't be a return to the national team, (he stressed,) but an occasion to celebrate a long career with the Azzurri, for this it would give me pleasure."One can only hope to see the great Maldini wearing the blue shirt for a final, fitting, and well-deserved farewell.
"The contest against Brasil is very near, recounted Marcello Lippi, less than two weeks and it will probably be difficult to understand but one can't organize a thing of this nature in such a short time. I have great respect for Maldini, he has been a very great player and a great professional."
In 2004, Giovanni Trapattoni gave the same type of honor to Roberto Baggio. Let's hope that Mister Lippi and the Italian FA can make this event a reality.
Speaking of Mister Trapattoni, Italy faces the Republic of Ireland on 01 April. That might be an ironic and historic farewell game for Maldini. No former Italian manager has ever faced the Azzurri in a competitive game.