- By Xavi Riera Follow @xaviriera
“I hope Milan win all their matches, except when they play against Barça. After Barça, Milan is my favourite team” said Carles Puyol in Tuesday’s press conference.
Twenty-four hours before meeting Milan in the first leg of their Champions League tie, Catalan defender, Carles Puyol has spoken about his love for Milan, once again. Puyol has always said that his wish is to play at Milan, should he ever leave Barcelona.
For those who know him, it is obvious why he finds AC Milan so endearing, his admiration for Paolo Maldini.
The Italian defender will always be considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, after 25 marvelous years at Milan, in which he inspired many kids to play football.
One of those kids was Carles Puyol, who was playing in Barça’s youth academy while Maldini won his first Scudetto for Milan.
Puyol’s dream was to play with Maldini, but despite the admission that he wished to play for Milan one day, in the press conference, he admitted that he just signed a new contract for Barcelona and maybe he’s too old to move to Milan. “Now I’m focused on finishing my career at Barcelona”, Puyol said.
If you ask Puyol who his idols are, there is only one answer: Paolo Maldini. A career the Barcelona player has followed, step by step. In 2009, when Maldini announced his retirement from football, Puyol wrote a letter to the iconic defender.
A letter to clarify why Maldini is Puyol’s idol. These are his words:
I know that all players retire from football. Some earlier than others. However, I thought that you’d never retire from football. You are the great Maldini, ‘the tireless’. Despite the fact that you were 40 years old, you remained competitive.
You began your playing career when I was a child and I never stopped admiring you. People say that when you grow up, you lose your idols. But not me. I continue to admire you more and more.
I admired your way of defending, your sacrifice and your tactical discipline. But, mainly, I admired that way you live football, something that I have tried to copy at Barça. I can never recall a bad word in an interview or press conference, or a huge foul. You are a clear example, to demonstrate, that it’s not necessary to be violent to be a good defender. You have dignified the work of footballers that don’t score goals.
You showed me that you must always be involved in the match. No matter who the opponent is. You have won countless awards and you’ve won numerous titles with a great club like Milan and the Italian National Team. That’s not easy. Now, you retire from football and I’m sad because my dream is not going to come true. I wish we could’ve played on the same team.
Football would never be the same without Maldini. It’s not just Milan who are losing a great player. People who admire you, are losing a reference.
I wish you a great future with plenty of happiness. Thank you for being who you were and for giving everything to football.