There is self- inflicted sadism in deliberately reviewing the images of Italy – South Korea from the 2002 World Cup . The Golden goal miserably called “the sudden death” by the English, the referee Byron Moreno, Vieri who tears chances after chances, Trapattoni tarantolato who takes it out on the inside world.
Among the snapshots that hurt the most, however, there is one in a certain epoch-making sense: Ahn’s detachment that leaves Paolo Maldini on the ground, caught in backlash, and signs the 2-1 goal that eliminates Italy from the World Cup.
Then the image of the blue captain, while all around and a red bedlam, who with a suffering expression, puts his left hand in his hair, raising his arm that visibly shows the captain’s armband .
It was the last image of the blue leader in the national team: the day after the Italian press did not spare indecent criticisms and Paolo, to preserve his knees and focus only and exclusively on Milan , decided to greet everyone by taking off his blue shirt.
126 appearances, four World Cups, one more mocking than the other. A Dante’s pledge to make him weigh like a boulder the many satisfactions he has won with his eternal club. While he was ringing Scudetti, Champions Cups and World Championships, Maldini took only so many slaps in the national team .
For this reason, despite his numerous satisfactions, he has repeatedly said that the semi-final of Italy ’90 against Argentina is his greatest disappointment . Three World Cups killed on penalties, the fourth and last for the Golden goal: it just wasn’t his fate .
In Asia, that 2002, ended a cycle that began on March 31, 1988 with the debut in the senior national team, at the age of 19,in Split in the match between Yugoslavia and Italy ended 1-1. Wanted by Azeglio Vicini who had the task of “refounding” the team after the unsuccessful expedition to the 1986 World Cup, Maldini was the pillar, despite his young age, of the 1988 European Championship, but above all of the 1990 home World Cup .
If the debut took place in 1988, it took five years to see him rejoice for the first goal with the blue shirt : on January 20, 1993, in fact, Maldini scored the 2-0 goal against Mexico:
In 126 appearances, which place him in third place in the overall standings of appearances behind Cannavaro (136 goals) and Buffon (169), Maldini has scored seven goals. After the first goal, Paolo took two months to achieve the second: on 24 March 1993 he scored Italy’s 5-1 (6-1, the final result) against Malta in the qualifying group for the 1994 World Cup:
With Arrigo Sacchi on the bench , Maldini scores again, on 11 November 1995, scoring the definitive 3-1 goal against Ukraine, this time in the qualifying round for the European Championships the following year. A really really nice goal:
On 29 March 1997 he scored in the new adventure with his father, Cesare Maldini , as the blue coach: the left-back opened the scoring, with a valuable personal action, in the 3-0 against Moldova and made up for it, in the same qualifying round, scoring the 2-0 against Poland (3-0 the final), a month later, on April 30, 1997:
A year later, on April 22, 1998, in the friendly against Paraguay he scores again at the start, on 5 ‘, in the match that sees Italy win 3-1:
The last goal in blue marks it on June 5 1999, at the Dall’Ara stadium in Bologna, against Wales. On the bench is Zoff, the national team plays to gain access to the 2000 European Championship and Maldini scores the 3-0 goal, a goal that Bruno Pizzul defines as “spectacular” :