MILAN • AC Milan led the Serie A tributes to former defender and club legend Cesare Maldini, who died yesterday at the age of 84.
Maldini, the father of 1990s club icon Paolo Maldini, made 412 appearances with the Rossoneri between 1954 and 1966, winning four league titles, including a scudetto in his first season with the club.
He had the honour of lifting the trophy at Wembley in 1963 when Milan became the first Italian club to win the European Cup, with victory over a Eusebio-inspired Benfica.
He also played 14 times for Italy, including their 1962 World Cup campaign in Chile before hanging up his boots in 1966.
Maldini had an ill-fated spell as Milan's coach, spending less than one season on the bench in 1973-1974, when Giovanni Trapattoni was ushered in to take over for the remaining games that year.
A minute's silence was held before yesterday's Serie A games.
A statement by Milan said: "President Silvio Berlusconi and the rest of the club will always remember his charisma, kindness and warm smile with fondness.
"The club sends its condolences to the Maldini family and the loss of such a key figure in Rossoneri history has left everyone at AC Milan moved and saddened."
Maldini eventually returned to coach Italy ahead of the 1998 World Cup in France only to leave his post under a cloud after the tournament. His tactics and selection choices prompted widespread criticism in the Italian media.
He then returned to Milan as the club's chief scout and in March 2001, took over from coach Alberto Zaccheroni for the closing stages of the 2000-2001 season, overseeing a memorable 6-0 victory over cross-city rivals Inter.
Current Inter coach Roberto Mancini was among those who paid tribute to Maldini.
"With the loss of Maldini, Italian football has lost a leading light. A hug to his son Paolo and to the family. Ciao Cesare!"