Milan legend Paolo Maldini blasted his old club for their dip in fortunes and reveals the offers he turned down. “They sold top players and lost the magic.”
The retired defender had been expected to take a job working within the Rossoneri camp after hanging up his boots in 2009, but has not returned to San Siro.
“I have done many things in football and was in this world for 31 years starting from the youth academy. There is a ‘risk’ I’ll be left out of the football world now, but I had such a strong bond with Milan that it is difficult to imagine myself with another club, even a European one,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.
“I have never considered being a Coach, because I saw the nomadic lifestyle my father Cesare had to go through in order to work. Plus I don’t see myself anywhere except Milan, so my chances of finding another coaching job in Italy would be close to zero.
“I don’t want to be a director because I don’t like politics. If I were to remain working in football, it would be in bringing my football knowledge. There are few who are 100 per cent competent, know about tactics, players and sports psychology. I am not interested in a role just for the prestige of it.”
It has long been suggested that Maldini won’t return to work for Milan because of his bad rapport with Vice-President Adriano Galliani.
“I was fortunate enough to be with Milan for 25 splendid years. When I arrived, I found a great foundation to build a great club. President Silvio Berlusconi arrived and taught us to think big, also of course with his investments. Arrigo Sacchi came and we had the mentality that we’d become the symbol of a style of football.
“It was something magical. Slowly, the magic was lost and Milan transformed into an absolutely normal club. That’s because Milan stopped transmitting that message and those who had written the history of the club stopped teaching their knowledge to the next generation. There is nobody in the current Milan set-up who wrote history, other than those in marginal roles,” added the 44-year-old.
“Look at Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, who had directors like Beckenbauer, Hoeness, Rummenigge, Butragueno, Gallego and Valdano. This magic can be carried on and taught by those who experienced and even created it. Milan had the magic for 25 years, but then lost it.
“It is difficult to evaluate the planning of this Milan side, as over the summer they released 12 players of great character and still didn’t expect a difficult start to the season. In all honesty, I can’t see what their plans are. Choosing certain players, even if they are on free transfers, look a world away from a specific plan.
“I’ll reveal to you that Leonardo wanted me at Milanello, even if I was just to stand there and show my presence. I told him there was no point in my turning up without a role. Galliani told me and Leo that a director of sport was no longer necessary in football, but I think there is a real need for one.
“Last year, Max Allegri called me and said he needed someone to keep an eye on him, to say whether he’d done something wrong tactically or in dealing with the locker room. He needed someone with the character to talk to the more important players in an authoritative manner. He thought that I, with my past, could do that.
“Anyway, I’d like to destroy this myth that I am ‘one of the family’ at Milan. They don’t particularly want me there. I feel bitter, but not just for me – also for everything we created together that has fallen apart. It’s the same sensation many of my ex-teammates have. I just want to give the magic back to Milan.
“I won more than anyone with this club and played more games than anyone, but I feel Milan have given me even more. I feel a debt of gratitude to Milan.”
Maldini also revealed he rejected big money moves from some of Europe’s top sides during his time at San Siro.
“Juventus wanted me, while Gianluca Vialli called me to Chelsea in 1996, but I preferred to stay with Milan to recover from a disastrous year. It was the right choice. Arsenal made an economic offer and there was also a request from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
“The truth is that most of these offers coincided with terrible seasons for Milan. It probably would’ve been easier to accept, but those of us in the foundations of the team took our responsibility and preferred to stay so we could turn the situation around.”