Maldini maintains his dignity

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The Independent Football

Paolo Maldini refused to condemn the minority of AC Milan fans who attempted to undermine his farewell appearance for the club.

The veteran defender signed off on a 25-year career with the Rossoneri to largely tremendous support from the San Siro faithful following Sunday's 3-2 defeat to AS Roma.

However, the mood was soured after some ultras unveiled a banner which read: "Thanks captain: on the pitch you have been an infinite champion but you have lacked the respect of those that have made you rich."

Another read: "For your 25-year glorious career our deepest thanks from those you defined as mercenaries."

The banners were a direct response to Maldini criticising some fans earlier this season when he felt the team wasn't been supported during a disappointing run of results.

But rather than be drawn into a confrontation, Maldini maintained his dignity, saying simply: "I'm proud because I'm not a person like these fans."

Meanwhile, Internazionale coach Jose Mourinho has again refused to slam the door shut on rumours linking him with a summer switch to Real Madrid.

Following a 2-1 defeat at Cagliari, the Portuguese admitted that he is more likely to stay at the San Siro, having guided Inter to Lo Scudetto in his first season in Italian football.

He told reporters: "I'm not changing the percentages, it is still 99.99 per cent. I could have said 99, 95 or even 51. I just meant to say I'm closer to Inter than Real at the moment. Fifty-one per cent is still the majority and this is enough. Then again, we can use all the numbers in the world.

"Whoever joins Real is a lucky man, because they have approached four of the best coaches in the world and they will not leave their own teams. So Real will have to turn to someone who is out of a job and he will be very fortunate to go to Madrid."

Elsewhere, Catania coach Walter Zenga has confirmed that he will leave the club at the end of the Serie A season.

The 49-year-old former Italy goalkeeper has been in charge at the Stadio Angelo Massimino for just over a year, helping the club twice fend off the threat of relegation.

Zenga said after the 3-1 win at home to Napoli: "I say with a very relaxed state of mind that this was my last home game with Catania.I leave a club where I was very happy and it was a difficult decision to make. Sometimes in life things come to their natural end and it is best to end on a high.

"I have not had any contact with other clubs, but I hope that Catania can hold a positive memory of me."

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