Friday afternoon question: Should Maldini, Figo and Cafu quit?

April 25, 2008

Paolo MaldiniIt is hard to know when to say goodbye

A footballer’s career is short and it can be tempting to play on as long as possible. But soccer is cruel and past achievements mean nothing when clubs plan for the future.

AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini, 39, will soon decide if he will retire at the end of the season following 23 years at the San Siro. The defender had been due to quit in May but is having second thoughts. It may all hinge on whether Milan snatch a Champions League place.

Team mate Cafu, 37, says he wants to play on as he is still motivated. The problem is Milan need fresh blood in defence and might not want him to stick around. Sometimes it is best to decide before the club have to.

Luis Figo, 35, is also pondering the future. He was given a one-year deal by Inter Milan last season after he pulled out of a move to Saudia Arabia. Injuries have robbed the Portuguese of his drive and he now looks a spent force. Inter coach Roberto Mancini has hinted this, but owner Massimo Moratti wants to keep Figo on.

Go out at the top, they always say, but if football is all you have known it can be a huge wrench to suddenly stop. Look at what has happened to poor Paul Gascoigne and others.

So what should this great trio do? Hang up those famous boots or plough on in search of even more success?

Mark Meadows, Milan

PHOTO: AC Milan club captain Paolo Maldini speaks to reporters during a news conference in Yokohama during the Club World Cup, Dec 7. REUTERS/Michael Caronna


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

well considering both clubs lack of success in the Champions league and Milan’s struggle for form in Serie A, it is obvious, they should both quit. If they want to keep playing go play for a smaller club. both clubs need to focus on developing their younger talent and quit relying on fading stars.

Posted by bill | Report as abusive

This is no easy question Mark. Nobody really likes to see former stars go under and be remembered for a time period that wasn’t their prime. I personally cringe when thinking of past stars and what they are now. Compare 1998 Ronaldo to the current version. Which would you rather remember? Consider this.. Star players start taking the spotlight at 16-17 years of age and the media will focus on them for positives and on the once-stars for negatives. An older player will have to do much more to impress than he once did in the past.
A player may be waiting for that one superb season to retire on top, but how long can you wait? Zidane was in top form for his last world cup but he knew it was the end of football for him.
I tend to think that an athlete should retire on his own terms, and a great way to do this is to announce your retirement before you start a season/tournament/etc. That way you don’t unwillingly decide to retire after a mediocre season that will leave you with a sour taste.

Posted by clement | Report as abusive

It’s down to the manager. Players should want to play forever. That should be their philosophy. But if I were manager of those big teams I’d move all three of the aforementioned players. That is the real question for me. And as for Moratti wanting Figo to stay – he should mind his own business and let Mancini do what’s right for the team.

Posted by Best Player | Report as abusive

[…] Time for a trio of legends to call it a career? (Reuters Soccer Blog) […]

Posted by Daily Dose.: 4.25.08 | The Offside | Report as abusive

The problem with saying that Maldini should quit is that he consistencly plays better than Nesta (32) Bonera (30) and Kaladze (32). So, should they quit as well? against Arsenal in the first leg, Maldini made Adebayor look simple – so should Adebayor quit? Surely the only mark of a sportsmen is how well he plays? Maldini is better than many of the defenders in serie A or the premiership so, why pressure him into retiring? He will likely quit this season, but i think he still has a role in leading by example.

Figo also has a lot to offer, probably still one of the best crossers of the ball in the game.


Posted by Paolo | Report as abusive

Figo is too old to play wing, but I think moved to attacking centre mid, as well as having a manager who believes in him rather than believes he’s past it could give him another two seasons.

Maldini has been absolutely quality this season, and if he was to retire, he would still be remembered as a defender who was good right up to the day he called it quits. It will depend on his current injury I reckon.

Cafu, he lacks any stamina these days but used as an impact sub for Milan he could be useful. He still seems to have as much pace as he did 10 years ago.

Posted by Rob | Report as abusive

A tough decision. If we go by ”chronological age,” I might say they all three should retire. However, based on Paolo Maldini’s performance this year, and even the SPEEDY Cafu, I will say both to continue. Yet, Milan coach should give more playing time to the youngster while these great living legend teach their technique to their teammates.

Luis Figo? Hum, he has been good but not that excellent as Maldini ”the great giovanotto.”

Still.. it is a tough decision to take from all 3.

Cafu still feels younger and want to contiue playing.

Maldini… who can replace him in such dignified manner. 4/do-you-think-kaka-can-be-milans-captai n-after-paolo-maldini-or-who-do-you-thin k-can-be-maldinis-replacement-as-captain -gattuso-ambrosini.aspx

Posted by Anna Italia | Report as abusive

I definitely think maldini deserves to play another season or two more if he has the energy. He is still in superb form.Besides its difficult 2 say gudbye 2 a player whom ive idolized for the last twelve years!!!!….but maldini shudnot play in left back ever…stick to centreback duty.
Figo shud play centre midfield role or attacking midfield. Cafu cud do a better job playing than ambrosini does.

These stars shud b kept otherwise we will miss them just as we miss zidane,rui costa nd many others

Posted by The no3 wannabe | Report as abusive

If you judge the players on PERFORMANCE and completely ignore age, you would have to say GOODBYE to Cafu and Figo!
As for Maldini, his performances this season have been OUTSTANDING!! Best player in the champions league clash with Arsenal!!
He should stay on and be used sparingly! First name on the teamsheet if he is FIT

Posted by Tom Vjestica | Report as abusive

You mean quit playing for their club? I think it’s their personal decision. Brazil’s Cafu already quit a few days ago. Portuguese Luis Figo I think he’ll play one more season at a club with less international demands, so in Major League Soccer in the U.S. or in Saudi Arabia.

Posted by Monica 08 | Report as abusive

Well i don’t really think Maldini should but maybe Figo and
Cafu should

Posted by Emmanuel Darko | Report as abusive