What makes a great footballer is a successful record and a full trophy cupboard, with cups and medals from different years and competitions. That is why Paolo Maldini is a great player.
Having won the Italian Serie A seven times, the Italian Cup once, the Italian Super Cup, the European Super Cup and the European Champions League all five times, and having lifted the Intercontinental Cup twice and the FIFA Club World Cup once since his Milan debut in 1988, Maldini is a football legend.
But having played 20 years in the Milan first team, Maldini should have left at the end of last season. An ideal retirement date for the legendary Italian defender would have been two seasons ago after lifting the Champions League for the fifth time. But his love for the game and his passion for Milan makes it such a hard step for Maldini to hang his boots once and for all.
After leading the Italian national team as captain for more than a decade, Maldini retired from international football after the 2002 World Cup where he featured in what turned out to be a disappointing campaign for the Azzurri. Therefore, Maldini missed out on winning a major competition with Italy as he did not feature in Italy's 2006 successful World Cup campaign.
I am an Italy fan and am an admirer of Maldini's abilities. I see that he should hang his boots and leave while he is at his peak, so that football fans can remember the great picture of Paolo Maldini; Paolo, the leader, the champion, the warrior, and not an old and slow player.
Maldini reversed his decision to retire at the end of last season, and recently decided to keep on playing for an additional season to help Milan go back to their winning ways after a disappointing campaign last season where Milan were eliminated from the Champions League Second Round by Arsenal, and failed to qualify for next year's Champions League.
Let us remember you as a legend, Paolo. Let us remember you as the leader who rallied the troops of Milan to glory on so many occasions.