AC Milan led the Serie A tributes to former defender and club legend Cesare Maldini, who died on Sunday 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 first 'scudetto' in his first season with the club.
Maldini 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 Eusebio-inspired Benfica.
He would play 14 times for Italy, including their 1962 World Cup campaign in Chile before hanging up his boots in 1966.
Goodbye dear Cesare. Today the world loses a great man and we lose a page of our history. You will be missed. pic.twitter.com/2OFgVCQiaz
— AC Milan (@acmilan) April 3, 2016
Maldini returned to Milan for an ill-fated spell as a 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 the Udinese v Napoli clash early on Sunday and was due to be observed in the remaining seven league games.
Meanwhile, 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's son Paolo followed in his footsteps and went on to enjoy unrivalled success at the club during their 1990s heyday.
Maldini senior eventually returned to coaching, taking over Italy ahead of the 1998 World Cup in France only to leave his post under a cloud after the tournament when his outdated tactics and selection choices prompted widespread criticism in the Italian media.
He returned to Milan to take a job 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 the memorable 6-0 victory over Inter Milan.
Roberto Mancini, the current coach of Inter who spent his playing days at Sampdoria and Lazio, was among those paying 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!"
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in a statement on Twitter Maldini was “a great Italian.”
Un pensiero affettuoso per un grande italiano come Cesare #Maldini e un abbraccio alla sua famiglia
— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) April 3, 2016
"Great man and great loss to Italian football," Italian footballer Andrea Pirlo tweeted to pay tribute to Maldini.
Grande uomo e grande perdita per tutto il calcio italiano. pic.twitter.com/SCIwWrEcIL
— Andrea Pirlo (@Pirlo_official) April 3, 2016
Former Italian footballer, Alessandro Del Piero too tweeted his condolences for the Maldini family. "Goodbye #CesareMaldini, big man with whom I had the good fortune to make a piece of road.
Paul, I embrace you," he posted on the microblogging website.
Goodbye to #CesareMaldini a great man with whom I had the fortune to pass a part of my journey.Thoughts with Paolo and family.
— Alessandro Del Piero (@delpieroale) April 3, 2016
(With inputs from AFP)
Published Date: Apr 04, 2016 14:25 PM | Updated Date: Apr 04, 2016 14:42 PM