Il Capitano said farewell to AC Milan yesterday. After 901 appearances and 25 seasons in the first team (which Ryan Giggs would require seven more years to equal) Paolo Maldini played his final game in red and black at the San Siro stadium against Roma. The goodbye to the extended football family comes next week, away to Fiorentina, but this was the big one.
It is hard to believe there will be another, even if the club bring his No 3 shirt out of retirement for the third generation of the Maldini family, sons Christian or Daniel (Paolo’s father Cesare also captained the club).
For them, this is some act to follow. Maldini, 41 next month, will endure in the memory as one of the greats. He is the most capped Italian player, has made the most appearances in Serie A, the most for AC Milan, he has featured in eight European Cup finals and won five of them (the same as Liverpool) and he has won seven Serie A titles.
His success spans three decades and 26 trophies and, when he emerged at the San Siro yesterday, a capacity crowd showed their appreciation in a uniquely colourful and Italian way.
The club had issued them all with a scarf to mark the occasion. Tre, solo per te, it read. Three, only for you.
Grazie mille, Paolo Maldini.