Here's HOW AC Milan's 'Captain', Paolo Maldini revives the club to glory

New Delhi: 

AC Milan won Scudetto after 11 long years and it took a few former legends of the club to pull it back from the bottom of the ocean where the club had drowned over the years after 2011. 

Being a legend in club where you have spent your life is a task of responsibility and Paolo Maldini understood it well when he retired from the game in 2009. Though he wasn’t done making history as he returned to make Rossoneri, the Champions of Italy, something that the club waited for a decade. 

Post 2014, Milan fell from grace consistently every year due to frequent changes in ownership, management and the directors. After the disastrous collapse of the club under Li Yonghong, Elliott Management Corporation did what was the need of the hour – to revive the club. 

Calling the likes of people who breathe the club and has its DNA, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paolo Maldini, they delivered what they envisioned. Maldini, when he retired, was offered numerous deals of joining other clubs as manager or director but he refused. But Leonardo (also a former Milan player) convinced him to join as the sporting director in the fateful moment. Though, the legend had difficulties operating under new role. He admitted in Paolo Guido’s biography that he felt unfit of role and he was working under the shadows of Leonardo. 

“I knew so many things, I already had so many ideas. But on a practical level I had to learn a new job. I think I really started giving my input when Leo told me he was leaving. There I said to myself ‘what the f— is going on now?”.

“I didn’t feel safe having to negotiate with agents and clubs. Then I started having to do it myself and it became the most natural thing in the world. I figured out what to say and what not to say. How to change register based on the interlocutor, those with whom you need to speak clearly and those with whom you need to use more diplomacy. If you have always been in this world and you use common sense these things are very easy. And it’s nice to do them.” 

The calmness he showed in this quote is what is visible on the pitch. Combining it with the aggression and passion of Zlatan is the point where you get a team that can become the champions of Italy. 

Since 2019, he has been the technical director of the club and things had been changing for positive from that time. Signing of Zlatan was a decision that gave the club a leader – a desperate need for a club comprising young players. Ibrahimovic’s impact wasn’t just limited to the field but also to the dressing room. The passion he brough with himself is evident in the winning team. This could happen as Maldini, showed trust in Stefano Pioli from the first moment and supported him even when the things were going through a rough edge. When CEO Ivan Gazidis was in talks of appointing Ralf Rangnick, Maldini protected Pioli and demanded time to show their work. 

His trust changed the perspective of the world from #Pioloout to Pioli is on fire and only a player with emotional connect like Maldini could envision this for the club. 

The most significant role of Maldini was during the signing of the players. Apart from brining Zlatan back in the club, Maldini made some crucial decision to build a strong base for the club. Letting go the players of key players and rebuilding the team was crucial. Maldini worked with his theory of “No one will be bigger than the club,” when Gigio Donnarumma and Hakan Calhanoglu were set free and they opted to sign other players instead of throwing more money for them. 

Everything together worked well for the club as the decision synced in the span of three years and the legends had the belief that they will rise again, all they needed was just a bit of time to come together.


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