Italian Legend Paolo Maldini Announces His Retirement Date

ROME (From AC Milan's record-breaking captain Paolo Maldini has announced he intends to quit football at the end of next season.

"I'll stop in 2007 when my current contract expires the 37-year-old defender was quoted as saying in La Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday.

Maldini who has made the most Serie A appearances also revealed he had turned down a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2002.

"Three years ago (Real Madrid president) Florentino Perez made me an offer but I didn't want to leave Milan he said.

Maldini who made his Serie A debut in Milan's 1-1 draw against Udinese in January 1985 set a new record of 571 outings in the division earlier this season surpassing the mark of Italy's 1982 World Cup-winning captain Dino Zoff.

During 20 years with the club Maldini has won seven Serie A titles and four European Cups.

He was also a pillar of the Italian national side making 126 appearances for the Azzurri between 1988 and his retirement after Italy's elimination by South Korea at the 2002 World Cup.

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