Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Maldini Dynasty

Milan fans over the past 60 years years have had the pleasure of witnessing a footballing dynasty. Every great once in a while, you will hear of a father to son career, or a couple of brothers who both play professionally, but rarely are there two or more family members who achieve any kind of comparable success. And it’s even more rare that the success is achieved with the same club. But Milan have been blessed with the Maldini Dynasty. First the father, then the son, and now, two grandsons in our youth sector. If either of those young players can even come close to replicating the careers of their predecessors, then Milan truly have a Dynasty of football talent to span the decades. As it is, we are blessed to have witnessed the careers of two Maldini Legends.

Kings of Milan, a Dynasty that dreams are made of

Cesare Maldini
Born in 1932, the son of Slovenian immigrants, he started his playing career at his hometown club of Triestina, but after only one season, he went to AC Milan. There he played center back for 12 years, winning 4 Scudetti and a European Cup and captaining the squad for five years. He also represented Italy on the national team from 1962-1968.

As if that wasn’t enough to be remembered by, he went on to coach for nearly 30 years, including two short spells at Milan, 10 years with the Italy U21 team, and two years with the Italian national team. His time with the national team included World Cup 1998, where his son, Paolo, was captain for Italy. His second brief spell at Milan in 2001 also saw him coaching his son as captain. He has since done a bit of scouting for Milan, as well as a lot of work as a football analyst and currently works for Al Jazeera.

Royal Rossoneri blood

Paolo Maldini
As if following in his father’s footsteps wasn’t enough, Paolo eclipsed his father’s playing career, playing exclusively for AC Milan for his entire career. As a boy, he originally played in the local Parishes, but at the age of 10 he moved to the Milan Youth teams. He was promoted to the senior team at 17, and played until the age of 41. Playing as either a right-footed left back or a center back, he won 7 Scudetti, 5 Champions League trophies, a Coppa Italia title and 5 Supercoppa trophes. 5 European Super Cups, two Intercontinental cups, and a FIFA Club World Cup. He captained Milan for many years, and had the privilege and distinction of lifting one of the Champions League trophies exactly 40 years after his father, also the captain, had lifted it. He is one of the legends of Milan and Italian football, both for his playing abilities as well as his leadership skills and exemplary behavior off the pitch as well.

He also holds many individual records for Milan, UEFA, and even FIFA, having played the most minutes of any player in World Cup matches. He has also won many individual awards, including being named to the team of the tournament in many competitions, as well as best defender, etc. Amazingly, he is also the second most capped player for Italy, with 126 caps. He played for the Azzurri at both the U21 level, as well as the senior team for 14 years. He captained the national team from 1994-2002, earning him the nickname of “Il Capitano” from more than just Milan fans. Since retiring from football in 2009, he has said he would not follow in his father’s footsteps by coaching, as it took him from home too much, but he has hinted that he wouldn’t mind getting involved in football, ideally at Milan, in other ways. That is, when he’s not taking his two sons to practices and games, of course.

Christian Maldini develops under the legendary Pippo Inzaghi

Christian Maldini
Born in June of 1996, Christian is 16 years old, and currently plays for Milan’s Allievi Nazionali (the under 17 team.) Like his father and grandfather, he is a defender. But will he be able to eclipse or even match his father’s career? The odds of that happening are very slim. Not only has the game changed since 1985, so has the youth system, and finding a spot in the senior team is much more difficult. Currently, he is not even a consistent starter for the Allievi squad, which is coached by a former teammate of his father’s: Pippo Inzaghi. So he has excellent genes, an excellent coach, and has so far followed in his father’s footsteps. But I don’t believe in burdening him with expectations, that only leads to disappointment for everyone. Especially when he has a little brother, too…

Daniel is still just a boy, his future may or may not be Milan glory

Daniel Maldini
Born in November of 2001, Daniel is 11 years old and plays for Milan’s Esordienti 2001 squad. Unlike all of his predecessors, he is actually a striker. He is perhaps most famous for tackling one Clarence Seedorf when he was only 5 years old, so is a bit of an internet star. But he’s also only 11. Sure, he’s got the history and the genetics to be a fantastic footballer, but who knows what will happen over the next 6-10 years? I think expecting an 11 year-old to do their homework or pick up after themselves is ambitious in and of itself. It’s not as if this mere boy needs the weight of world football placed on his tiny little shoulders.

Of course it doesn’t help that when Paolo Maldini retired, they also retired his jersey number. With the exception, of course, of one of his sons wearing it. So Milan fans everywhere are waiting for the number 3 jersey to be filled once again by the beautiful football skills that its previous Maldini dazzled us with.

Everyone wants to continue seeing them in the red and black...

Personally, I am so grateful for the dynasty that we have already been privy to. Think about it... 11 of our eighteen Scudetti have been won with one or the other Maldinis in the squad. If the Maldini name stops there and the number 3 jersey is never worn again, is it right for us to expect anymore? Sure, we can dream and we can hope, because who doesn’t want both of those boys to match or even exceed their grandfather’s or their father’s amazing feats for Milan? But I say let them grow, their future is theirs, not ours. And if they choose to continue the dynasty and give us even more beauty, then so be it. If not, we have truly been blessed to see a father and son duo to bleed red and black in two glorious careers spanning six decades. Never forget the gifts we have already been given of Milan’s Maldini Dynasty.

This post inspired by the music of Andrea Bocelli