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Maldini Monday

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Last Monday Il Capitano was awarded the Giacinto Fachetti award of excellence, which is truly an honor considered the company Il Capitano will share, such as the Captain of the Iraqi National team that led team to Asian Cup victory despite the countries turmoil and lack of infrastructure.

As a fan of Italian calcio I have to say that my knowledge of Giacinto Facchetti is a bit less than it should be, considering that he is in fact the predecessor to Paolo. Once you read about and learn about Fachetti you slowly begin to realize that he is an excellent player and the only mistake he seemed to make in my book is the choice of club jersey he decided to wear, but a player like Facchetti, much like Maldini transcends the jersey and makes your realize one simple thing, he was a once in a lifetime type player. So while we honor Il Capitano every Monday, as we should, it won’t hurt to explore some of the players and heroes that made him what he is today. I once read that there would be no Maradona without Pele, and in turn no Baresi without Scirea, no Buffon without Zoff, and alas Maldini was the next step in the legacy of Facchetti.

Are we honoring an Inter hero? NO! We are honoring a player who is closely linked to Il Capitano, and know he has been given an award in his honor as well. Here is some info on Facchetti, special thanks to MAD, of Inter offside fame for the tidbits (see even a bitter rival can cut a deal with the Devil! Thanks, MAD):

-For those that don’t know, July 18, would have marked the 66th birthday of Giacinto Facchetti if he had not died 2 years ago on September 4th 2006.

-Facchetti was a forward until he was seen by The Wizard (il Magio) Helenio Herrera.

-Facchetti, under the tutelage of The Wizard, changed positions from forward to left full back trusting on the genius of Helenio.

-It worked out pretty well. He won 4 Scudetti, 1 Italian Cup, 2 European Champions Clubs Cup (Champions League Forerunner), and 2 Intercontinental Cups (I think this is now the World Club Cup). He played for his (and my) beloved Inter for almost Twenty Years. He had 476 appearances with 59 goals from the left full back position.

-He was also captain of the Azzurri for 70 times out of just over 90 caps. Only 3 players have ever had more appearances. That solo European Championship that Italy has? He was the captain of the team for that Tournament in 1968. He played on 3 WC teams, including the 1970 WC team that made the finals and lost to Brazil 4-1.

-Oh, yeah. He was only sent off once in his whole international career.

-If that was all he did, he would still be considered one of the greatest Italian footballers ever.

-He died in 2006 of cancer of the pancreas.

-You will never find another Inter player to ever wear the Number 3 shirt. It is and always will be Facchetti’s shirt. Tu sei tutto quello che. Everything a man should be.

Sound a bit like Il Capitano doesn’t it?

Paolo’s thoughts on the award and Facchetti:

Milan captain Paolo Maldini has spoken of his pride at receiving the Premio Giacinto Facchetti.

The honour, which is named after Inter legend Facchetti who passed away in 2006, is awarded to a player who embodies the spirit of football.

The third edition of the Premio Facchetti has been given to Maldini during the final season of a magnificent career.

“It means so much to receive the award because my career is similar to Facchetti's,” the 40-year-old told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“He was an Inter talisman and I have spent my whole life at Milan and we have similar stories for La Nazionale.

“I liked Giacinto's calm approach and I remember that Arrigo Sacchi always used to talk about the way he was on the pitch.

“Facchetti was also the first attacking wing-back to interpret the role in a modern way.”

Despite the successes of his career, Maldini has maintained his reputation as a gentleman off the pitch.

“How football affects you depends on the education you receive,” the Rossoneri legend explained.

“For example, it's hard to always give sincere interviews, but if like me you talk very little you can say more intelligent things and be less rash.

“Football has changed during my career, but I think it is still full of positive things and passion that overcomes everything else,” he concluded.

Lastly, Paolo’s peers discuss the honor.