AC Milan and Italy legend Paolo Maldini has revealed he turned down approaches from Manchester United and Chelsea in his career, both as a player and as a coach.
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Speaking to Jamie Carragher in an interview with the Daily Mail, the 46-year-old spoke about a number of big moments in his career, with the pair focusing particularly on the two Champions League final clashes between Milan and Liverpool in 2005 and 2007.
Still, Maldini also revealed he had the chance to play in England. Despite being a one-club man and an all-time legend at the San Siro, he could also have made a name for himself at Old Trafford.
He revealed: “I had an offer from Manchester United, but I didn’t speak directly to them. Luca Vialli, when he was Chelsea manager, called me. That was in 1996. We’d had a very bad season. There was also something from Arsenal, but I never spoke to them directly. I would have said no anyway. Vialli was a friend of mine and he was the only one who made me think. I had some problems with my team and the supporters at that time. I thought, just for one day, ‘What if?’ But then, no.”
He added that he was also approached for a coaching role at Stamford Bridge: “The offer came only one week after my last game for Milan. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to move my family to London. I went there. I spoke to Mr Abramovich. I spoke to Ray Wilkins, who I had played with at Milan. I don’t know. I decided not to do it.”
However, he did end up sticking it out at Milan, and he admits his regret that he is not more involved with the club now after the end of his playing career, with his old side struggling badly in Serie A this season.
“Milan is not just a team for me. It is part of my life,” he said. “My family loves those colours. But you know what? When I see it (like it is now), I feel sad. We built with other great players something unique and they didn’t realise the importance of the men and the people.
“You know what? Only Franco Baresi works there now. No other former players. That is sad. Milan have a great tradition and they completely let it go. So the new generation, they do not understand. There is all that history of the club but now it is different.”