Paolo Maldini spoke to RAI on Saturday, discussing Stefano Pioli, Zlatan Ibrahimović, his son Daniel, the upcoming mercato and more.
While 2020 has been a nightmare for the majority of the world, it has actually been very good for Milan: the club has returned to center stage in Italy and is currently in first place after 14 games.
A lot of the credit belongs to the management and to Paolo Maldini. The Milan director gave an interview to RAI 2’s Dribbling, and you can find it below:
“This Milan makes me happy for the way that the play and the way they are, for their courage. These are all things we asked our players when they arrived here and those we found when in August 2018 I accepted this job,” Maldini stated.
“The secret of the change? Believing in what you do, in the players, we waited for the players. This is a team that needed to rebuild a base, which had changed over the years so it could not get going again. I believe that the discourse we made at the beginning was carried on into the following season and now you see the results, after 18 months. I did not think that this was necessary for my life, I stayed away from football for 9 years but with the idea of not necessarily returning. At the same time, I kept telling myself that if it happened I would enjoy it.
“What does it mean to deal with young guys? It means giving the necessary time to adapt. Those who have not tried it on their skin find it hard to understand. Not all clubs give the same stress and Milan is a club that takes away a lot from you: if a player works well elsewhere it doesn’t mean that he would work well at Milan.
“How do I experience the relationship with Daniel Maldini? He still lives at home with us, but at Milanello we greet each other in a very normal way, like what happened to me with my father. We are calm and it’s very natural because football is a sport and sport is general is very democratic. You are here because you are worth it. This must be a lesson for Daniel, like it was for me, that he is here because he deserves to be here. Many things annoy him, those were the same thing that bothered me when my father spoke to me. In the end, the people who are close to you are the ones who hurt you the most when they tell you things.
“There’s been a Maldini at Milan for 66 years? The history of Milan and my family is something special. In addition to a long belonging, we have been lucky – both my father and I – to have had many successes and so the wish for Daniel is that he can have similar successes.
“If my phrase ‘I think for myself and that can sometimes wreak havoc’ still applies? When you’ve had a beautiful and successful life filled with more than satisfying personal relationships, then it’s normal to gain an independence of thought. I believe that a person, with his head, still makes the difference.
“The fact that I believed a lot in Pioli? Stefano has many characteristics of a great coach. We have a very open relationship and we tell each other everything. Also because it’s the only way to get results.
“What can I tell you about Leão’s six-second goal? It’s something practically unrepeatable but if you don’t try it then it will never happen. Working, working hard when you enter the Milanello gates – is a little secret to always carry with you. It’s one of the little secrets that are not secret. You have to forget your own thoughts and concentrate on exactly what is required.
“How is Ibrahimović? Zlatan faces everything head-on and is therefore angry because he was close to returning. But muscle problems concern everyone, especially in the COVID-19 era and those who have it have not only suffered from the disease but also from playing every three days.
“What kind of mercato it will be? It could be a creative mercato, perhaps looking for opportunities. But it will certainly not turn upside down the team that has shown in 2020 that it can be competitive.
“If a vice-Ibrahimović arrive? We have Zlatan and many alternatives. The alternatives are Leão, Rebić, Colombo and Daniel who has also played there and therefore we have a series of young players in whom we believe. We have played them, we have kept our word and we are first in the standings. Everything that has happened, even in the difficult times, has led us to feel very strong from the point of view of our spirit, we don’t want to go looking for something that we don’t think is necessary.
“An anecdote about my relationship with Sacchi? A year ago I said that I remember the nightmares of all the things he said to me and of coming home after the physical and mental work. And 30 years later he sent me a message to apologize… but it was not a negative thing – on the contrary. If I have become a perfectionist then it’s also thanks to him.
“What do I hope for in 2021? A return to normality. As far as my work and this team are concerned, my wish is to not stop dreaming. I’m very practical and realistic but dreams sometimes allow you to get where you didn’t think you would.
“What kind of football would be it after the pandemic? We hope first of all to be able to account on the fans because maybe the players have gotten a bit used to empty stadiums, but the show is different. I don’t say it’s depressing because we are talking about sports and rivalries, but the real gist is missing: the passion of the fans.
“Being on the France Football Dream Team? It is a great pride and honestly it’s something I’ve been very pleased about. Just the thought of being able to play with all these Champions, even if it’s impossible, remains a dream.”