Milan finished 11th and 10th in two consecutive seasons between 1996 and 1998 in Serie A, and the Italian told Calcio Top 24 (quoted via tuttomercatoweb) that this was when the offers from England came along:
“There arrived two offerings in the mid-nineties: one from Chelsea and one from Arsenal. In those years Milan had two seasons with some problems, but I was never going to go away.”
The centre-back went on to make an astonishing 902 appearances for the Rossoneri, scoring 33 goals in a spell that lasted 25 years. In his club career, the defender won 26 major trophies, more than one a season on average in his career.
He won five UEFA Champions League trophies, seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Italian Super Cups, five European Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.
Maldini never won an international trophy in his 126 appearances for Italy. He retired from international football in 2002, four years before Italy won their fourth World Cup in 2006.