Paolo Maldini, the AC Milan legend
Paolo Maldini, the AC Milan legend Image Credit: Action Images

AC Milan icon Paolo Maldini paid a visit to the Emirates Group Headquarters during a Dubai visit on Monday.

The retired Italian legend, considered one of the greatest defenders in history – and one of the best footballers of all time – met with Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, this week.

Maldini, affectionately nicknamed Il Capitano (The Captain), famously played as a left back and central defender for both AC Milan and the Italy national team. Until 2020, he held the record for the most appearances in Italy’s top domestic league Serie A, completing a total of 647. However, he was overtaken by Gianluigi Buffon last year.

Emirates president Tim Clark and AC Milan's Paolo Maldini in Dubai in 2021.
Emirates president Tim Clark and AC Milan's Paolo Maldini in Dubai in 2021. Image Credit: Emirates

The one-club man – who made his senior debut on January 20, 1985 – played for AC Milan all 25 seasons of his club career. In 2004, he was included in Pele’s ‘Fifa 100’ list of the world’s greatest living players. He is also one of only 18 footballers in history to make more than 1,000 career appearances.

Maldini retired from AC Milan in 2009. As a result, the club retired his No 3 shirt. However, AC Milan stated that should one of his sons make it to the senior team, they would pass the No 3 shirt onto them. Maldini’s 19-year-old son Daniel made his senior debut for AC Milan in a No 98 shirt in 2020, marking the third generation of Maldini’s to wear the red-and-black kit, 66 years after his grandfather Cesare. Maldini’s first son Christian, 24, plays as a defender for Pro Sesto.

Maldini, 52, currently serves as the Technical Director of AC Milan FC, which has had a 15-year relationship with Emirates. During his visit, Maldini was accompanied by AC Milan’s Maikel Oettle, Sponsorship Director, and Casper Stylsvig, Chief Revenue Officer.

Emirates last year extended its backing of AC Milan until the end of the 2022-23 season. Emirates continues to be AC Milan’s shirt sponsor as well as having a visible presence at the San Siro Stadium. They also hold ticketing, hospitality and other marketing rights.

Emirates has been serving Italy for 30 years and currently operates daily flights to Milan.

The airlines first struck a sponsorship deal with AC Milan in September of 2007. By 2010-11, the shirt sponsorship deal emerged.