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Maldini Monday

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Sam weighs in on Maldini...


For a young girl sitting half way across the globe in cricket crazy India to become hooked on to football because of one man only, that man would have to be pretty special. In the beginning, it was his incredible good looks that caught the eye during Italy's World cup run in 1998. By the time 2002 rolled out, I was already part of a select few people in India who would get up in the middle of the night and stay hunched over the computer for 90 mins constantly refreshing to get play by play updates for SerieA matches. Paolo Maldini made me become a football and then a Milan fan. His performances on the pitch, the way he adapted the fullback role from a purely defensive one to an attacking one making forays into the opponent's side, his amazing side tackles without once taking his eyes off the ball, his ability to keep some of the best attackers in the world in check (sometimes stopping their plays an instant before they were even to start making them) - all of these made me appreciate the importance of the defender's role and the importance of tactics in football. Then of course, there was his attitude - I never saw him get into a brawl with someone, very rarely raise his voice on the pitch, never heard him trash someone in an interview - he was the epitome of a gentleman player. There never has and never will be another player like him. His ability to play at the highest levels for so long with rare blips will ensure that he will hold a place in the record books for Italy and Milan and his humbleness and modesty will ensure that he will hold a place in the hearts of all football lovers!

If anyone has seen the Maldini Il Film you know at the end his peers, coaches, and friends all reminisce about the greatest defender to ever walk the Earth, this is your chance to do the same. Milan fan, Paolo fan, hell even Inter fans you are welcome to share your memories at acmilan@theoffside.com and you too will get your time in the sun to honor Maldini.