Paolo Maldini: The day Italian legend destroyed Holland at Euro 2000

Paolo Maldini v Holland - what a performance!

Paolo Maldini is routinely labelled as the greatest defender in footballing history.

The Italian icon was an imperious pragmatic entity throughout his glittering career, thriving as both a left-back and a centre-back.

Maldini won seven Serie A titles, five European Cups and a Coppa Italia during his 25 years as a player at AC Milan.

The 52-year-old represented his country for 14 years as well, featuring 126 times for Italy and scoring seven goals.

He failed to win a trophy on the international stage, but he did still deliver some iconic performances in the country's famous blue jersey.

At Euro 2000, a tournament where Italy lost to France in the final, Maldini produced a defensive masterclass in his team's semi-final victory over Holland.

Italy celebrate vs Holland

Italy were reduced to 10-men in the 34th-minute of the match when Gianluca Zambrotta was giving his marching orders, but they held on to claim victory in a penalty shootout.

Captain Maldini was one of the key figures behind his country's resilient display that night, thwarting Holland's array of attacking superstars with some proper old-school defending.

The Dutch just couldn't get the better of the left-back, as his legs just always seemed to find a way to win the ball cleanly.

He may have missed his penalty in the shootout, but without Maldini, Italy would almost certainly have lost the game in normal time.

Let's take a look at Maldini's best moments from the night he 'single-handedly destroyed' Holland...

What. A. Player.

No other footballer has ever mastered the art of the slide tackle quiet like Maldini and the Italian was also deceptively quick.

The way he shields the ball from Clarence Seedorf - who he played alongside at AC Milan - at the end of the video is just brilliant and that clip should be shown to any young player with aspirations of making it in the professional game as a defender.

“Paolo Maldini is the best," fellow Italian Andrea Pirlo once said about the great man, per Planet Football.

"A defender. A peerless defender. The best defender going. Both physically and mentally, he had everything, and the enjoyment he got from playing was as obvious at 40 years of age as it had been the day I first walked through the door at Milan.”

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Let's start with an easy one. Which footballer do these eyes belong to?

They don't make defenders quite like Maldini anymore.

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