Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Families in Football’ series. Over the next few weeks, we take a look at siblings, cousins and even parents and children that have played the beautiful game. Some have played cup finals together while others have been on opposing sides. Today, we focus on Paolo Maldini, along with his father Cesare and his son Daniel.
Families in Football: Paolo Maldini and the Family’s Legacy at AC Milan
Italian defender Paolo Maldini will go down as one of football’s greatest ever defenders. The left-sided centre back spent his entire career at AC Milan and was a mainstay in the Italian national side for 14 years.
Born in the Italian capital, Paolo followed in his fathers’ footsteps at joining AC Milan as a youth player. He won the Coppa Italia Primavera with the youth team in 1894/85 and made his senior debut for the Rossoneri in the same season, aged 16.
The following season, the young defender adopted the number three shirt, which had previously been worn by his father, Cesare.
Having established himself as a first-team regular, Maldini secured his first trophy at the end of the 1987/88 season by clinching the Scudetto. It would be the first of seven league titles the defender would win during his time at the San Siro.
Maldini also clinched one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana titles, five European Championships, four UEFA Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup.
Individually, Paolo won plenty throughout his career and also came third in the 1994 and 2003 Ballon d’Or respectively.
For Italy, Paolo Maldini was capped 126 times – a record which was later broken by Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon. He captained the Azzuri for eight years for a total of 75 international matches. Although he failed to win a major tournament with Italy, Maldini reached the final of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 along with the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1988.
Having made 902 appearances for the Rossoneri over 25 years, he also holds the record as the club’s player with the most appearances.
Born in Trieste, Cesare Maldini came through the ranks with his hometown club, Triestina. The defender spent two seasons with the Serie A club.
He moved to Milan in 1954 and achieved success plenty of success. He won the Serie A title on four occasions, along with one European Super Cup and one Latin Cup. He made 399 appearances for the Rossoneri before joining Torino, where he would spend one season before his retirement.
Despite only making 14 senior appearances for Italy, Cesare would win the 1992, 1994 and 1996 UEFA European U21 Championship as manager. His management record was also stellar at domestic level, winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup and Italian Cup in the 1972/73 season.
Son of Paolo and grandson of Cesare, Daniel Madini didn’t quite follow in his predecessors’ footprints. Instead of becoming a defender, the young Italian decided to play as a striker. However, like his family, Daniel turns out for AC Milan.
The 20-year-old has become the third generation to represent the Rossoneri, having spent ten years in the youth setup with the capital club.
He made his senior debut in 2020 before coming on as a substitute against Liverpool in the Champions League earlier this season. One week later, the striker started and scored for the first time in a 2-1 win over Spezia.
Daniel scored 19 times from 41 appearances for Milan Primavera before adding 13 in 28 for the U23 side. At senior level, the striker has added one goal in 19 outings.
Daniel also has an older brother named Christian. A defender like his father and grandfather, he too came through the youth academy at AC Milan but has spent his entire career in the lower leagues.
Before he announced his retirement, Paolo Maldini expressed that he would not go into coaching. However, when former AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti took the role at Chelsea, Maldini reportedly met with owner Roman Abramovic to discuss a coaching role, but the defender turned it down.
Not only was Paolo one of world football’s best defenders, but he was also extremely talented at tennis. In 2017, he qualified for the Aspria Tennis Cup in Milan – a professional tournament on the ATO Challenger Tour. However, he and doubles partner Stefano Landonio were knocked out in the first round.