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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 16 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Feb 21, 2007

Maldini ready for 100th Champions League match

Paolo Maldini will make his 100th Champions League appearance on Tuesday night against Celtic but the AC Milan skipper believes the milestone does not tell the whole picture.

The defender won the European Cup with a star-studded Milan side in 1989 and 1990 before winning Europe's elite prize again in 1994 and 2003 after it became the Champions League.

And the 38-year-old hinted he feels the publicity surrounding his 100th appearance masks his true impact on European football.

He said: 'Obviously it's a big honour for me. But I used to play in the competition when it was not called the Champions League and I feel I have made more than 100 appearances.'

Maldini is desperate to win the trophy for the fifth time but he refused to divulge whether this would be his final attempt.

He is expected to retire at the end of this season but he could keep playing beyond his 39th birthday in June.

The Italian said: 'It will be one of the last, I'm not sure it will be the last. I keep playing because I like this challenge, this type of match.'

Maldini's 100th Champions League appearance in the first leg of the last-16 tie in Glasgow has been overshadowed by the crisis in Italian football sparked by the death of a policeman in violence before a Sicilian derby.

Milan's last game at the San Siro was played in front of just 21,000 fans as work to meet new security guidelines began.

But Maldini does not feel extra pressure because of the tragedy before a game between Catania and Palermo on February 2.

He said: 'Football is nothing to do with what happened in Catania.

'Obviously there is a problem with violence but it's a social problem. We don't feel UEFA or FIFA will have their eyes on us.'

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti hopes to have Clarence Seedorf and Alberto Gilardino available for the Parkhead clash.

The pair trained last night despite minor injuries, with Seedorf nursing a thigh strain and Gilardino suffering from a knee problem.