By Musa Abdullahi Kaga
The name Maldini is synonymous with Milan, as it is impossible to talk about Milan’s history without mentioning the Maldinis. In fact, the name is almost synonymous with football itself. Just as the likes of Maradona, Pele and Cryuff, the Maldinis have crafted their names on the golden stones of football history, only that there’s was even more spectacular – Grandfather, father and now the son, all following the same path.
The dynasty began in 1954, when the Italian centre-back, Cesare Maldini, made his debut for the Rossoneri. Due to his impressive leadership qualities and team spirit, he was rewarded with the captain’s armband just a year after his move to Milan from Triestina. He had 12 illustrious seasons with Milan, lifting four league titles and a European cup (now Champions League) in the process. Cesare had the privilege of being the first Italian to lift the then European cup, and of course, Milan was the first Italian team to win the title.
Cesare, named after the Roman emperor, had excellent technique and passing range. He was known to be imposing in aerial duels and had an outstanding reading of the game with anticipation. As a defender, despite having hundreds of caps for both club and country, he was only booked five times and sent off once in his entire career, solidifying his place in the list of the greatest defenders to have graced the game – the likes of Sergio Ramos could only dream.
Cesare Maldini made his final Milan appearance in a 6-1 triumph over Catania on May 22 1966, only to return as a coach six years later. The dynasty continued as a certain 16-year-old boy made his Milan debut in 1984 – Paolo Maldini, making an incredible 902 appearances during an illustrious 25 years career, winning 23 major trophies in the process. One of the few ‘one club men’ was an elegant and cool defender known by his iconic no. 3 jersey, deservedly retired, just like the legendary Baresi’s no. 6. The ambipedal defender has, despite being a left-back, adequately occupied all the defensive positions, forming a formidable partnership with Milan and Italy legend Franco Baresi. The duo, while playing together, conceded only 29 goals in 196 games – astonishing? Legendary rather.
Paolo succeeded the retiring club captain, Franco Baresi, in 1997, after 20 years of service. Following his father’s footsteps, he captained Ac Milan till his retirement after the 2008/2009 season. The Maldini era was seemingly coming to an end until his unexpected return to Milan as sporting strategy & development director. He was, however, promoted to Technical director after a year. He was instrumental in the acquisition of the likes of Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao and Mike Maignan. Among the new faces was a player with a very familiar and historic surname, coming through the youth ranks, Daniel MALDINI, your guess is right, the son of the legendary Paolo Maldini. Lo, a new chapter in the Maldini dynasty beckons.
Daniel, unlike his ancestors, plays as an attacking midfielder. Last season, in a very difficult match away to Spezia, Coach Pioli gave him his first Serie A start. The then 19-year-old did not disappoint, as he made history by scoring a header, becoming the third member of the Maldini family to score for Milan. Due to limited playing time, the 21-year-old was loaned out to Spezia this season. He started on Saturday evening against his parent club and, surprisingly, scored a curler to cancel out an early Theo Hernandez strike. A ‘Maldini‘ has scored in Sansiro again, precisely 5,333 days after Paolo’s goal against Atalanta in 2008 – Tradition.
Daniel would have rescued a point barring the intervention of Olivier Giroud. Milan thought they got the winner after Sandro Tonali’s screamer. However, VAR cancelled out the goal for a foul in the build-up. In the 89th minute of regular time, with incredible dexterity, from a tight angle, Oliver Giroud gave Milan a well-deserved victory again through a spectacular acrobatic volley – typical Giroud grand style.
The adrenaline was high, as you’d expect of any late winner. Hence, Giroud pulled out his shirt during the wild celebrations. Consequently, he was penalised for a second booking and eventually sent off. He was captured with a ‘mea culpa’ face in tears after the match. Cheer up, sins forgiven, Olivier!
Musa Abdullahi Kaga wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org.