Milan, June 19: Italy legend and former AC Milan star defender Paolo Maldini has qualified for a professional tennis tournament at the age of 48.
Maldini who is now part of the ownership group of Miami FC in the North American Soccer League retired from football in 2009 and took up tennis as a hobby. And it is clearly visible that since then he surely has made significant progress.
The defender who will be 49 later in this month, secured a wild card to play the Milan Challenger in Italy in the doubles draw with his 45-year-old friend and coach Stefano Landonio.
The tournament is a second-tier ATP tournament and will start from June 26 with a prize money worth £30,000 to be won.
Stefano Landonio who reached a career-high ranking of No 975 in Tennis was in full of praise for the Italian and revealed the Milan man has got the ability on the court that he maintained on the football field.
"Paolo's gifted with a good serve in addition to some decent shots," he told the Tennis Italiano website. "He's also improving his volleys and while he may not be catching the eye in any particular part of his game, he does not have any weaknesses either."
Landonio also stated that Maldini could have had an encouraging career in tennis, had he considered the game up earlier.
"Since he only started playing five or six years ago, there are some deficits in terms of technique," he said. "If he'd started working on his technique earlier, then who knows?
"Certainly in view of his background, he's got extraordinary mental and physical strength. Psychologically, he never suffers in the slightest in delicate situations -- he's really strong."
Maldini has won all the possible trophies in the club level in his 24 years long footballing career. He made a record 647 Serie A appearances in his club jersey and won 26 trophies for AC Milan, including five European Cups.