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Stylish Maldini slots in

With eight days to go until kick off, we pick our all-time XI including the Italian left-back.

Paolo Maldini, this most decorated of Italian defenders, surprisingly went through a prolonged and influential international career without winning anything. However, that unfortunate blot on an otherwise outstanding resume does not diminish his credentials for appearing at left-back in our star-studded line-up.

Introduced to international football by his famous father, Cesare, who selected him for Italy's Under 21 side in 1986, Maldini went on to make 126 appearances for the senior team, many of them as the captain, and established a reputation worldwide as being one of the most skilful defenders to play against. He made his first appearance in the World Cup finals on home soil at Italia '90 helping the hosts to reach the semi-finals and was in the Italian team who lost the 1994 World Cup final to Brazil on penalties.

Maldini retired as his country's most capped player after the 2002 World Cup tournament in Japan/South Korea, although he has since been surpassed by Fabio Cannavaro, Al Ahli's latest signing. He went into retirement at the age of 40 with a magnificent collection of medals earned during a distinguished single club career with AC Milan, whom he inspired to a record five European Champions League triumphs. @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae Tomorrow: Sweeper

Gordon Banks (Goalkeeper, England) Cafu (Right-back, Brazil) Paolo Maldini (Left-back, Italy)

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