In team sports, a captain is an honorary title given to the member of the team primarily responsible for strategy and teamwork while the game is in progress on the field.
The definition of the word captain seems to not do Paolo any justice. As I looked for the definitions and quotes about calcio captains, I began to wonder myself what makes a good captain, or more importantly what has made Paolo a good captain.
Some people would easily say that the reason he is such a great captain is his success. It is hard to argue with that seeing that the only trophies that elude Paolo are those that are won on the national stage. Others would argue that is Maldini’s longevity that makes him a great captain, he has been the captain of the Rossoneri since 1997, and has played with the Rossoneri for all twenty three year marvelous, a true feat in modern sports. (I will devote a post solely to Maldini’s amazing tenure in the future.)
None of these reasons really ring true to me; the one that I find the most amazing trait of Il Capitano is the respect. Maldini is easily one of the most respected players ever to step foot on the pitch of the San Siro, but also arguably the most respected player ever to play in Serie A. It is not the accolades, or the years even though they are both spectacular. What I find most amazing is the fact that he is held in the highest regard from old adversaries like Zidane, Roberto Carlos, and Ronaldo. Looked up to by friends: Vieri, Gattuso, and Sheva; and finally acclaimed by the game’s greats: Platini, Cantona and Muller.
It is hard to find a person who says they do not like Maldini. One can say that he has aged, or that he is not the best defender (blasphemy in my eyes), but I find it very hard for anyone to say that they do not respect him in all aspects of his game.