FIFA World Cup 2022: Maldini says Italy’s absence in Qatar difficult to digest

Despite not winning a tournament with Italy, Maldini reached the final of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 and the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1988.

Paolo Maldini of AC Milan looks on during the Serie A match between Empoli FC and AC Milan at Stadio Carlo Castellani on October 1, 2022, in Empoli, Italy.

Paolo Maldini of AC Milan looks on during the Serie A match between Empoli FC and AC Milan at Stadio Carlo Castellani on October 1, 2022, in Empoli, Italy. | Photo Credit: Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Despite not winning a tournament with Italy, Maldini reached the final of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 and the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1988.

Former Italy skipper Paolo Maldini has cemented his place in the history books as one of football’s all-time greatest defenders. Despite enjoying a trophy-laden career at the club level, he did not win an international trophy with Italy.

Maldini took part in four FIFA World Cups and three UEFA European Championships. He reached the final of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 and the semifinal of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1988.

READ:FIFA World Cup: Captains to not wear ‘OneLove’ armband in Qatar

With Italy failing to qualify for its second consecutive World Cup, Maldini said: “It’s something we all are trying to digest but failing miserably. Being four times champions in World Cup, it is difficult for us to accept that we would not be part of the tournament the world looks forward to”.

Despite failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Italy clinched the 2020 European Championship after beating England 1-0 in the final.

The Azzurri enjoyed a 37-match unbeaten run under the tutelage of Roberto Mancini, and qualifying for the World Cup seemed like a cakewalk for the in-form team. But, in reality, it took just one must-win match against North Macedonia to seal the fate of the European champion. A 92nd-minute winner by Aleksander Trajkovski broke Italian hearts and hopes of qualifying for the World Cup finals.

“Being the best in Europe and losing to North Macedonia in a qualifier is unbelievable for every football fan. When the draw was made, we thought it would really be tough to play Cristiano’s (Ronaldo) Portugal in the final qualifier. Yet, we were hopeful. But we failed at the first hurdle,” said the former Italy captain.

With Italy out of the World Cup, Maldini was asked to pick his favourites for the Qatar World Cup.

“There are a few, I must say. From Europe, the reigning champion, France, along with Germany, England and Portugal. Brazil and Argentina from South America. Be prepared for a surprise in a World Cup, like the Croatians did in 2018. They have a good team this time, too.”

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :
Download Sportstar App
Download Sportstar App
 Episode 13: David Gower
Connect With Us