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Milan 2 Roma 3

No matter what I have done in the past twenty-four hours or so, I can’t shake the image of Jeremy Menez scoring Roma’s second goal. It was not so much the goal that gets me, but the chilling pursuit from Maldini. He was never going to catch Menez, but as he pumped his arms and pushed his legs, and Menez pulled further away, I saw something I have never before seen on Paolo’s face, defeat. The grimace is engrained in my mind, and while he ran the Captain’s armband he has worn so faithfully, for as long as I can remember, fell to the ground, a symbolic omen that crushed me at that moment, and still sends chills down my spine.

Yes, Ambrosini scored soon thereafter, but the image was already engrained, the moment had happened, and I had a sinking feeling that stuck with me long after I tried to go to sleep. The fact of the matter is that Roma deserved to win on this day. They were the more dangerous team, faster, more decisive, and determined, and though only one goal came from the run of play, it was only missed opportunities that kept Milan close. On a day where no motivation should have been necessary for the Rossoneri, it was Roma who triumphed, it was Roma who played the better football, and it was Roma who earned the win.

I never considered this to be Maldini’s” last” match, yes it was the last at the San Siro, and it was the last time he would play in front of home fans, but I was not ready to say goodbye today, didn’t even consider it. I looked ahead to next week’s fixture as my final goodbye, the final game in the red and black. Considering today’s result I am almost relieved that my intentions were as such, that I am going to get another chance to see him play, but following today’s game and the post match actions of the Ultras, I can’t even fault him if he chose not to play. It was well known that Maldini requested the simplest of send offs today, no pomp and circumstance, no testimonials, in fact he wanted not much of anything. However I never expected to see what I saw today…

Even now as I watch the videos of the Ultras I am still a bit appalled and shocked. It is no secret that Maldini has always been a supporter of the Club and its front office, a front office that almost raised the man. This was a view the Ultras have not always shared, but to air their grievance in this fashion was embarrassing to say the least. To dishonor a man who has done no wrong for club, country or sport is the most despicable action I have ever seen. The funny thing is as I sit here I am not without fault, and though I may never satisfy the Roman legions, that is not my goal and never will be; I do want to be held accountable in the eyes of those who will not. I can only hope the Ultras share my guilt and recognize their error. Nothing any Rossonero tifosi will ever do will be enough to honor our Captain, but today’s disgrace should not go unnoticed or forgotten. I never held the group in high esteem, and today only solidified my opinion of them.

So as I sit here in my guilt, I can’t help but feel for Maldini. I have lived through epic failures: Istanbul, Korea 02, USA 94, EURO 2000, but this failure is easily the worst. I failed, the tifosi failed, and his teammates failed. Unlike so many things in life, we all have another chance come the trip to Florence. What should have been a meaningless trip with little bearing on the campaign now becomes a game of higher importance. Yes Milan need only a one goal loss to assure a spot in Champions League football in the first Post-Maldini season, but that attitude serves no one, a proper send off with a proper victory is a must at all costs, I just hope this time it can be done right.

Please forgive me if I take a day or two to recompose my thoughts and feelings. My intention was to post a video of Maldini each and every day this week leading up to next week’s final Maldini Monday, but at this point I admit feeling a bit at a loss. In December of 07 I started a simple tribute to Paolo each and every Monday thinking our time was coming to an end. Instead I embarked on what has truly been one of the most rewarding things I was able to do on this blog. Writers from various blogs here at the offside and football blogs around the net joined in to pay what was nearly a two year tribute, but at this point I can’t help but feel even that has not been enough…