Paolo Maldini turned down a backroom role with AC Milan due to doubts about the project and not for financial reasons.
Maldini made a record 902 appearances for Milan, winning Serie A seven times and the European Cup/Champions League on five occasions across 24 glittering years at San Siro.
It has been reported in the Italian media that Milan’s potential new owners, Sino Europe Sports, were keen on bringing in Maldini to work behind the scenes, but the Italy legend had reservations about his proposed position.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, he wrote: “Milan has always been a matter of heart and passion for me.
“My history, my father’s history and my children prove it. No one can take this bond with the Rossoneri colours away from us.
“It would have been much easier to go along with the excitement of the offer and say ‘yes’, diving headlong into this new adventure without considering the potential consequences .
“I’d like to clarify certain matters to the Milan fans and the media, which gathered and reported news that the key issue was the financial aspect, forgetting that I and my family have always felt a sense of belonging to Milan.
“Salary was always a consequence of an agreement, never the cause.
“This news, among other things, has been put forward by ‘anonymous’ sources, across channels and people I’ve known for 30 years, aiming to discredit me as a person to justify the failure to find an agreement.
“I didn’t put forward any financial demands, I reiterated at our first meeting that the definition of my role would be key to any possible collaboration.
“I pointed out that I’d give my all to a serious project, but I’d never accept being used as merely a symbol.
“I never asked for a ‘Galliani role’, i.e. a CEO with full power. I know what my virtues are, but I know my limitations even better – my area of expertise had to be the sporting side.
“I was offered the role of Technical Director, before that a sporting director would be hired with the faith of the CEO. Then, according to the organisational chart that was presented to me, I would discuss any project, purchase, or sale of a player with my sporting director.
“My specific question was what would happen if we disagreed, and [CEO Marco] Fassone told me he would decide.
“I told him I didn’t think that was the basis for a winning team. I’ve been part of teams which have made football history, and I know that to achieve results there has to be great synergy between all the corporate bodies and major investors, in addition to well-defined roles.
“The last few seasons where Milan have had joint-CEOs should have been a lesson.
“Of course, I’d have had to take – in the eyes of the fans, the press and the ownership – the entire responsibility for the sporting side of things, potentially without having any executive power.
“I never asked for direct contact with the ownership to bypass the CEO, I just expressed a wish to hear from Mr David Han Li, Executive Director of Sino Europe Sports.
“I only wanted to meet with him for a few minutes, to hear what they expected from me and I wanted to hear in his own voice the goals we’d set ourselves and what investments they planned to make.
“I think it’s a serious request that any professional has the right to speak with his own employer.”