1. Paolo Maldini (Football)
Widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders of all time, Paolo Maldini was a real Rossonero, playing all of his staggerring 25 seasons for Serie A giants AC Milan.
Maldini retired at the age of 41 in 2009, until when he won 26 trophies with Milan which included seven Serie A titles and five European Cup or the UEFA Champions League, which is as many as won by Liverpool, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, while only Real Madrid and his own team AC Milan have won more. Maldini was synonymous with AC Milan more than anyone in the history of the Italian club.
Just like Rahul Dravid, Maldini was described as a “True Gentlemen of the Game”. He was the symbol, heart, and soul of the Rossoneri. He had the calm & composure to back his immense talent. He was considered a great leader by fellow footballers as he led the Milan and Italy side for many years, leading to the nickname “Il Capitano” (the Captain).
Paolo Maldini won everything at club level but was always deprived of International glory. He reached the final of 1994 FIFA World Cup with the Italian side, only to lose to Brazil 3-2 on penalties. 6 years later, Maldini captained the Italian side against France in the UEFA EURO 2000 final which Italy lost 2-1 after a golden goal by France’s David Trezeguet.
But, despite all that, Paolo was considered one of the greatest players ever produced by Italy. Following his retirement in 2009, his beloved club, AC Milan, retired his number 3 shirt in his honour.
“When I think of the current generation, Lionel Messi is top-level. And, although he has never taken my breath away, Kaka has impressed, Zinedine Zidane was brilliant but without a doubt, Paolo Maldini has been my favourite.” — Sir Alex Ferguson