Friday April 10 2015
Maldini: 'Milan values forgotten'

Legend Paolo Maldini has lamented the lack of attention to 'Milan's real values', while looking back on his long Azzurri career.

The conqueror of seven Scudetti and five Champions League trophies played for teams that were very unlike the one currently sitting eighth in the standings.

Speaking to Gazzetta TV, the 46-year-old offered his opinion on what made the difference.

“Times have changed compared to how things were many years ago,” Maldini has conceded.

“It was easier to bring together a group and we [the players] spent a lot more time together.

“One of the sources of strength for a club like Milan, and for the few other clubs that are alike to Milan, is tradition.

“Nowadays the real values of Milan are not being tended to. I remember when I was just starting for the team and I took as an example those who spoke little and worked hard on the pitch. Franco Baresi above all others.

“My toughest adversaries? [Diego Armando] Maradona, Ronaldo, who was phenomenal in his two years at Inter, and [Zinedine] Zidane.”

Maldini then went on to discuss his many international tournaments, with special emphasis on his four World Cup campaigns.

“In the Italy 1990 World Cup, changing venues from Rome to Naples for the game against Argentina was the worst thing that could have happened.

“Maybe the best final would have been Italy-Germany. If we'd won the World Cup at home, we'd have been placed on a pedestal for life.

“USA '94 was an incredible World Cup, but it was played in the most ridiculous environmental conditions [because of the extreme heat]. We went there with a lot of knowledge and international experience.

“The problem was that we couldn't have a proper training session. Playing at a high pace, in that weather, was impossible. It took us time to adapt and we almost got knocked out.

“Playing the final was a beautiful feeling, but the tension can kill you. The preparation for it was unusual, but in the end that game [lost 0-0 to Brazil on penalties] became my only regret in football.”

Italy star Roberto Baggio famously picked up an injury at the end of the semi-final against Bulgaria, and many believe that compromised his performance in the final against Brazil.

“We were only told about the starting XI moments before going to the stadium,” said Maldini of the incident.

“[Coach Arrigo] Sacchi had a training session around 8am to try Baggio, who did not show up. Nobody knew if he was going to make it."

Maldini also commented on the Euro 2000 Final, which was won by France 2-1 after a stoppage-time equaliser and extra0-time Golden Goal.

"It was practically already won, though we'd been very luck against the Netherlands [in the semi-final].

“In 2002, I was not at my best condition when I reached the World Cup, as I'd been injured for four months.

“It's a shame, because that was a great team. That World Cup wasn't handled well, it was too broken up and there wasn't much warmth from the supporters.

“It was an sterile World Cup - my last, and I did not play it well.

“The season after that everybody thought I was done for, but it was my best campaign ever. At least in terms of strength.

“In that year's Champions League we started with the preliminary rounds and I played every game. We won it, and it let us send a great message.”

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