Posts Tagged ‘European Championship’

Profile of the week: Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini (born 26 June 1968, Milan) was an Italian footballer who spent his entire career playing for Ac Milan. Many people acknowledge him as one of the greatest defenders ever. Despite being naturally right footed, Maldini played in the left back or central defender position for a majority of his career. He played at an elite level his entire career spanning over two and a half decades.

16-year-old Paolo Maldini making his debut for Ac Milan

At the age of 16 Maldini made his professional debut against Udinese in the 1984/85 season, making him the youngest ever player to play for Ac Milan in the Serie A. It would be his first and final appearance of that campaign. However the following season he started eleven times for the Rossoneri. The following season marked Paolo Maldini’s first Serie A trophy. This would be his first of seven. He also played a vital part in the Milan side who went the entire season unbeaten. Due to his fine form Maldini played all four games at Euro ’88 for Italy, eventually being knocked out by Soviet Union in the semi-finals. On the 24th of May 1989 Maldini would lift his first European Cup after Ac Milan bet Steaua Bucarest 4-0 . They went on to win it the following season too. Many feel that Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan were one of the greatest teams in history as no team has won the European Cup back-to-back since. The 1990 World Cup then came around, Italy were hosts and felt they could go on to lift the trophy for the fourth time in the country’s history. However this was not the case as Italy once again fell short, being beaten by Argentina in the semi’s on penalties.

Following the disappointment of Italia ’90, Maldini was lifting silverware with Ac Milan almost every season. Winning the Scudetto three times in a row (91/92, 92/93 & 93/94). During this period Milan went on to win their fifth and Maldini’s third Champions League against are Barcelona side which were considered heavy favourites. The Rossoneri went on to win 4-0. Paolo Maldini was made captain of the Italian national team for the 1994 World Cup in America. This tournament proved to be more heartbreaking than the previous World Cup. Italy made it all the way to the final against Brazil to be once again denied on penalties. Maldini was named in the team of the tournament, 32 years after his father, Cesare Maldini, received the same honour. In the same year, he also became the first defender to ever receive the World Player of the Year award.

Maldini won two more Serie A titles before the end of the ’90s (95/96, 98/99) but continued to return from major tournaments with Italy trophyless, following disappointing team performances at Euro ’96 and the World Cup in 1998. In 2000 Maldini was denied another international trophy as Italy were beaten in extra-time by a David Trezeguet golden goal in the final of the Euro’s. This would be the last time Maldini would play in an international final.

After being knocked out of the World Cup in 2002, Paolo Maldini decided it was the right time to retire from international football. Although he retired trophyless, he retired  as Italy’s most capped player of all time, making 126 appearances for the Azzurri. He also captained his country a record 74 times throughout his international career.

Remarkably, 2003 became the one and only time Maldini won the Coppa Italia beating Roma 6-3 on aggregate. Just three days before the Coppa Italia final second leg, Ac Milan beat another Italian rival, Juventus. However this was in the Champions League final, which they won on penalties in Old Trafford, Manchester. This was the fourth time Maldini has won the competition.

Paolo Maldini lifts the Champions League for the fifth time in his career.

 

The 2003/04 season saw Carlo Ancelotti’s – a former team-mate of Maldini’s – Milan side win the Scudetto for the first time in five seasons.  That season, Paolo Maldini was named the Serie A defender of the year for the first time at the age of 36. Ac Milan once again reached the Champions League final in 2005 against Liverpool. Maldini opened the scoring himself after just 51 seconds but he was again denied by an unlikely comeback as Liverpool went on to win the final on penalties following a 3-3 draw. However in 2007 he would get his revenge as Milan beat Liverpool 2-1 in the final to give Maldini his fifth and final European Cup.

On the 17th of May 2009 Maldini played his 900th official match for Ac Milan against Udinese. The following week saw Maldini play in front of San Siro crowd for the final time in a match which Milan lost 3-2 to Roma. Maldini’s send off was marred by a banner displayed by a small section of Milan fans which read “Thank you, skipper. On the pitch you were an infinite champion, but you failed to show respect towards those who made you rich”. His last appearance in a Milan jersey came on the 31st of May, a game they won 2-0 against Fiorentina. The win meant Milan qualified automatically for next season’s Champions League, although Maldini would be absent.

The famous number 3 jersey which Paolo Maldini wore throughout his Milan career has been retired but it may be restored if either one of his children, Christian or Daniel  play for the Milan senior squad in the future.

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Time is golden

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has asked for an alternative to penalties, so is it time to bring back the golden goal rule?

The golden goal rule: Following a draw, two fifteen-minute halves of extra-time are played. If any team scores a goal during extra time, that team becomes the winner and the game ends at once. The winning goal is known as the “golden goal.” If there are no goals after both periods of extra time, penalties decide the game.

Golden goal was introduced in 1993 by Fifa but was not made compulsory, individual competitions could choose whether to stick with traditional extra time (15 minutes a half) or golden goal. The first major international tournament the rule was introduced for was Euro ’96 in England, hoping to promote more attacking play. However it didn’t exactly promote attacking play at all, with teams more concerned about conceding than trying to get the match winning goal. Oliver Bierhoff did in fact score a golden goal in the final to win Germany the Euro’s though.

Probably the most famous golden goal was scored at Euro 2000 when French striker David Trezeguet sealed the winner with a stunning strike.

Many will also remember the Italians crashing out of the World Cup 2002 to a South Korea golden goal that shocked the world.

Golden goal didn’t really last too long though, officially being removed in 2004 despite giving us some great moments over the years along with some very dull moments.

As a football fan I do believe that reintroducing golden goal would add more excitement and suspense to extra-time, knowing that one mistake or one kick of the ball could win or lose the game for either side. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve watched two teams knock the ball about during extra-time, both looking pretty content to bring it to penalties. Golden goal, I believe, would somewhat do-away with the defensive mentality adopted during extra-time.

David Trezeguet famously scores a golden goal to win Euro 2000 for France.

Task Force Football 2014 was set up to come up with an alternative to penalty shoot-outs even though I don’t think penalties are the main problem, extra-time is. It looks likely that golden goal could be that alternative but what will make it different than before? How can they guarantee that teams will not adopt a defensive mentality once again? We’ll have to wait to see what they come up with, if they do come with an alternative at all.

Do you think they should reintroduce golden goal or should everything remain as it is?