Football players and that passion for padel. Albertini: “Space, teammate and movements, those who have played football have an advantage”

Many people ask: why do former footballers who start playing padel make such rapid progress and feel comfortable on the court? We asked Demetrio Albertini, AC Milan’s former player and padel pioneer. Albertini discovered the padel racket when he was playing for Atletico Madrid and then FC Barcelona, in Spain. It’s the beginning of the new millennium and love at first sight with a sport that is still unknown here in Italy. From there, the great passion led to several paths: from the opening of a few clubs – among them the one at CityLife – in Milan through his company City Padel Milano, to tournaments, matches againtst ex-footballer friends, and charitable initiatives.

We meet him in the stands of the Allianz Cloud, as he’s watching today’s matches of Milan Premier Padel P1: “Milan Premier Padel is like a World Cup and a great opportunity to see the best players – both men and women – in the world”, is his first thought on the big Milanese event, then he gets to the point: “Many people think that former footballers make quick progress in padel because once they have stopped playing football, they have a lot of free time”, is Albertini’s opener, who immediately adds: “This is absolutely not the case and there are at least four important reasons why, indeed, those who have played football have an advantage over those who come from tennis. The first one, explains the former AC Milan player, has to do with coordination. The footballer is used to turning left and right and running backwards, a situation that you face on the padel court, whereas the tennis player, for example, almost always has the ball in front of him. Of course, you have also to deal with the glass, but that comes later”.

The second aspect regards the habit of playing with a partner: “Padel is in fact a team sport, and those who have played football are used to having a partner close to them and making choices according to their position in the management of the game. Here, too, the similarity with padel is obvious”. Then, there is the quick thinking in developing the action. In modern football, the opponent is on your back in a matter of fractions of a second and choosing what to do quickly is essential: “Yes, in football you have to quickly choose the best solution to build an effective action. In padel you do the same in order to put your opponent in difficulty, creating the conditions for him to play a difficult shot while keeping in mind the position of your partner and your opponents. In football, the dynamic is the same in a different setting”. Finally, the most valuable asset on the football pitch, the search for space, can also be found in padel: “The footballer is born with the continuous search and identification of space, i.e. the area of the pitch in which to place the ball, trying to build a goal action. Exactly what you do with padel by identifying those square centimetres of court on which to drop the ball in order to put your opponent in trouble”.