MILAN: Hanging proudly on the wall at the headquarters of AC Milan is a black-and-white photograph showing the club’s captain holding aloft the European Cup.
The captain is Cesare Maldini and the venue is Wembley Stadium, scene of AC Milan’s 2-1 victory over Benfica in 1963.
It is an image that any football family would treasure but on Wednesday the Maldinis might be able to add a second such picture to their family album.
Forty years on from his father’s success, current Milan captain Paolo Maldini is 90 minutes away from holding up that huge Cup, again on English soil.
This time it is Manchester United’s Old Trafford that is the theatre to a unique dream.
Most sons of famous footballers are condemned to eternally playing in their father’s shadow with even their greatest successes compared with the achievements of another man, in another era.
As Italy’s most-capped player of all-time, the winner of six Italian titles and three European Cups, Paolo Maldini has long since passed that test however.
But it was the classy central defender Franco Baresi and current assistant coach Mauro Tassotti who raised the Cups in those three European triumphs and now Maldini is relishing the chance to have his own moment of glory.
“There have been some strange recurrences at important moments in my career,” Paolo Maldini told Reuters as he prepared for Wednesday’s final.
“It has happened a lot in my career and my life that I have found myself in the same situation as my father, after all I am doing the same job as him.
“I hope that once again my story and his will follow the same path,” said the Milan captain.
“That photograph was the clearest image I had of my father’s career because I never saw him play – he had finished before I was born,” says Paolo.
“Then of course it is the image you see when you enter the club’s headquarters –there it is my father with the Cup held high”.
His father will be at Old Trafford on Wednesday hoping, for once, that he can do something Paolo was unable to do and see a Maldini lift the European Cup.
“What a thing, this final will also be played in England and as England always brought me good fortune, I am going to Manchester hoping Lady Luck is with me. After all 40 years on the captain of Milan is still called Maldini”. – Reuters