Leao lifts lid on relationship with Maldini and his sacking: “We were all shocked”

By Ben Dixon -

Recently, AC Milan winger Rafael Leao has released an autobiography titled, ‘Smile’. In the book, he has shared several anecdotes about his time at the club. In one of the segments, he recalls his emotions about the sacking of Paolo Maldini and the relationship the pair had.

This has been a difficult season for Leao, and whilst there have been suggestions that he has become more of a leader behind the scenes, on the pitch, it has been far from his best, at least in terms of numbers.

However, on Sunday, there was a showing from Leao, which was reminiscent of previous seasons – he was electric and was at the heart of Milan’s attacks. Furthermore, he scored a beautiful goal to end his Serie A drought, and will hopefully now spur him back into scoring form.

Leao’s book, offers further insight into the life and emotions of the winger and a more personal outlook on things that may commonly not be published through outside interviews.

MilanNews relayed an extract from the autobiography about Maldini’s sacking and the impact the iconic defender had on his career.

“Someone tried to identify him [Maldini] as my ‘second father’. People have this obsession, to try to identify father figures for young footballers and attribute guru-like qualities to them. Well, I won’t do that. Maldini was not a second father to me, but without him, I might not be who I am, and I wouldn’t have won a Scudetto. So I won’t be here to criticise his impact, far from it.

“He was unique, fundamental, he always told me that I was a beautiful footballer and that he and his father were football fanatics. I learned about his history, his family, and a real football aristocracy. Then he left,” he said.

You would like me to comment on that, wouldn’t you? You can’t wait to read something extremely spicy and interesting about it, can you? Well, the truth is, I don’t know what happened, I know that he left overnight and we were all stunned.”

Tags AC Milan Paolo Maldini Rafael Leao


  1. Love Leao’s response about another man being his “second father”.
    Reminds me of a very similar situation when young Kyrie Irving was asked by a ditzy reporter if Lebron James has been like a father figure to him. Kyrie said: Lebron is a great player and a leader but I have one father.
    Kudos 👏 to Leao.

  2. Leao has 9 goals and 8 assists= 17 goal contributions so far

    His best season was 16 goals 15 assists= 31 goal contributions

    season before was around 26 goal contributions

    There’s still over a quarter of the season left for him to make it to 26 or even 31 goal contributions, can we stop underrating him? He has learnt to rely on the team a lot more this season and makes better choices, in time he’ll grow into it more and contribute better on goal as well.

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