Technical director Paolo Maldini has described playing in the Champions League as the height of his career at AC Milan, telling the players to relish tomorrow’s game against Liverpool.
The Rossoneri will make their return to Europe’s elite club competition tomorrow night and will make their debut at Anfield in doing so as they kick off their Group B campaign away against Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Both teams come into the game full of confidence as Milan have won three out of three in the league, while Liverpool have won three out of four and sit joint-top of the Premier League. Both teams have conceded just once while their attacks have been in full flow.
Maldini knows all about what it means to play in the Champions League having won it multiple times himself, and he spoke to Milan TV on the even of the game to recall his experiences in the competition, with his words relayed by MilanNews.
“The Champions League for me is perhaps the highest moment of my experience with Milan, what was once the Champions Cup and the one that raised my dad for the first time in 1963 for an Italian team,” he began.
“It is also a concentrate of very strong emotions; in the first game, what you couldn’t go wrong was that game. A mistake and you could have been out. The most intense moments of all were the six days of the two derbies in the 2003 semi-finals, in the final against Juventus and also the last against Liverpool.”
On Berlusconi: “Once Berlusconi arrived, his idea was that Milan could play away from home as if they were playing at home. Bad pitch, rain, snow… don’t worry, we go and play our game. This got us there at such a high level that when we got to a final, we didn’t feel this pressure.”
On winning the Champions League: “These are fantastic situations, but the fact of raising the trophy as captain is the achievement of a goal, which remains common since we are talking about a team sport. The great strength of this club is that it has included more than 100 people: it is not only the people who work in the field, but also those who accompanied us on this incredible journey.”
On the victory in the final against Juventus: “When we won the Champions League in 2003 we had not reached the final for nine years. I took everything as a great lesson.”
On the fans: “One of my best memories are linked to the emotion that people transmit, and when they ask me what I miss most, in addition to the daily routine of training and living in the locker room, it is precisely that adrenaline that feel when you arrive at the stadium.
“When we played our first final against Steaua in Barcelona, that tide of Rossoneri fans will remain indelible within those who lived it. As well as arriving at the Manchester stadium and seeing our fans.”