Monthly Archives: May 2011

Eto’o & Milito seal Coppa Italia Final with a 3-1 win against Palermo

Inter end the season with their 3rd & 4th trophies of the season, this years Coppa Italia final was a battle to secure not just the Coppa Italia trophy but also a special trophy to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

Match Report
Inter have won the 2010/11 Coppa Italia by beating Palermo 3-1 in this evening’s final.

A completely sold-out Stadio Olimpico hosted two sides who had never met before in the final to determine the winner of the 63rd edition of the Coppa Italia. Eto’o gave Inter the lead with a cool finish in the 26th minute, following Sneijder’s perfectly weighted through ball. In the 76th minute, precisely the same combination sent the Nerazzurri fans wild with joy, as Inter placed a firm grasp on the cup. An eventful finale awaited, though, as Munoz pulled one back for Palermo on 88 minutes, before Milito stroked home two minutes into added time to seal the win. The Nerazzurri now have a seventh Coppa Italia to add to their trophy cabinet, and can count 15 trophies won in the last 7 years.

FIRST HALF
Leonardo had to make do without Maicon (suspended) and Cambiasso (injured) but was able to select Ranocchia, who recovered from flu to partner Lucio at the heart of defence, and Sneijder, who nestled in behind Eto’o and Pazzini. Kharja and Milito started from the bench.
It wasn’t long after the Inno di Mameli (Italian national anthem) and Morganti’s opening whistle that Palermo created the first chance of the game, Ilicic setting up Hernandez and the Uruguayan firing into the side netting with 2 minutes on the clock. The opening period saw the Sicilians throwing their weight around a bit: Hernandez elbowed Sneijder, Goian crunched into Pazzini from behind and Balzaretti fouled Lucio on the edge of the box, all within the first quarter of an hour.
On 15 minutes Stankovic played a long ball over the top looking for Pazzini, who held off the challenges of Goian and Munoz as he attempted bring the ball down, but it ran into Sirigu’s arms.
In the 19th minute, Julio Cesar was alert to dive at the feet of Pastore as the Palermo playmaker raced into the box after playing a one-two with Ilicic. The Argentinian tried his luck again a minute later, after another exchange with Ilicic, but lifted his effort over the bar.
Goian asked to come off midway through the half and on came Carrozzieri, making his first appearance of the season after completing a two-year drugs ban.
The Olimpico exploded in the 26th minute when Inter took the lead: Thiago Motta won the ball while being brought down by Hernandez; Sneijder picked it up and, seeing Eto’o’s run, slid a delightful pass in behind the defence for Samuel to latch onto, bear down on goal and sidefoot past Sirigu into the far corner. The Cameroon striker raised his hand to his chest after notching up his 36th goal of the season and repeated with Materazzi the same celebration seen in the Club World Cup final.
Five minutes later, Palermo almost found an equaliser  when, following Hernandez’s cross to Balzaretti and a scramble in the box, Hernandez’s deflected shot was kept out by Julio Cesar with a stunning reflex save.
Ilicic made a dangerous run into the box on 41 minutes, only to flop to the ground after an alleged foul by Ranocchia that rightly wasn’t given.
The last action of the half saw Hernandez’s central shot saved comfortably by Julio Cesar, so after 46 minutes played the half-time scoreline was Inter 1-0 Palermo.
SECOND HALF
The second half began with Julio Cesar keeping out an effort from Balzaretti, then Chivu made a crucial interception as Hernandez was heading for goal in the 49th minute.
Julio Cesar was called into action again soon after, getting up above everyone to claim the ball following Ilicic’s free kick; he then made another timely intervention to pluck the ball away from Hernandez (52nd), with Lucio guarding the goal line.
Miccoli replaced Acquah on 55 minutes and it took the substitute just five minutes to make his presence felt: connecting with Pastore’s cross, he nodded towards the far corner, only for an alert Brazilian keeper to fly through the air and turn the ball round the post with a great save.
Pazzini made way for Pandev on the hour mark, with Eto’o moved forward to play as the side’s spearhead.
Another scramble inside the Nerazzurri box saw Palermo go close again, but after a series of rebounds Lucio cleared with an overhead kick.
After 67 minutes, a contrast between Chivu and Hernandez in the box led to more protests from the Sicilians, but the Romanian had clearly won the ball.
Inter went close in the 75th minute as Eto’o laid off for Sneijder, but the playmaker failed to connect. However, just a minute passed and the Nerazzurri extended their lead: Pandev won the ball with a little luck and fed Sneijder, who released Eto’o once more and the Cameroonian striker entered the box and slotted into the far corner with another display of clinical finishing. The Olimpico went wild as the cup edged ever closer.
Inter might have gone three up in the 86th minute, when Sneijder curled a lovely shot towards the top corner, yet it was matched by a top-drawer save from Sirigu. And Palermo’s hopes were restored two minutes later when Munoz headed past Julio Cesar from Miccoli’s corner, which in fact shouldn’t have been given – Morganti and his assistants failed to see that the ball had gone out of play before the corner was awarded.
Moments after celebrating his goal, Munoz’s evening was ruined when he was shown a second yellow for bringing down Mariga on the edge of the box as the game entered stoppage time. Eto’o stepped up to take the free kick and struck the ball sweetly but it came back off the underside of the crossbar.
Yet almost immediately afterwards Milito did put the game to bed, turning home Pandev’s pull-back just yards from goal to put the Nerazzurri 3-1 up.
After five minutes of stoppage time, Morganti blew the final whistle on the 2010/11 Coppa Italia final – Inter were the winners.

The president of the Italian Senate, Renato Schifani, handed over two trophies: the Coppa Italia to captain Zanetti and the cup to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italian unification to Marco Materazzi.

Inter 3-1 Palermo (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Eto’o 26 and 76, Munoz 88, Milito 90+2.
Referee: Emidio Morganti (Ascoli Piceno).
Booked: Acquah 27, Munoz 53 and 90, Carrozzieri 68.
Sent off: Munoz 90.
Added time: 1+5 minutes.

Line ups

Inter:

1 Julio Cesar; 55 Nagatomo, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta (17 Mariga, 82), 5 Stankovic; 10 Sneijder (22 Milito, 87); 7 Pazzini (27 Pandev, 61), 9 Eto’o.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 14 Kharja, 23 Materazzi, 25 Samuel.
Coach: Leonardo.

Palermo:
46 Sirigu; 16 Cassani, 6 Munoz, 3 Goian (80 Carrozzieri, 69), 42 Balzaretti; 8 Migliaccio, 94 Acquah (10 Miccoli, 55), 23 Nocerino; 72 Ilicic, 27 Pastore; 9 Hernandez (51 Pinilla, 77).
Unused subs: 99 Benussi, 4 Kasami, 11 Liverani, 36 Darmian.
Coach: Delio Rossi.
Reactions
Leonardo

“It was an enormous satisfaction this year for me and for Inter with so many changes.” Leonardo enjoys his first trophy as Inter coach, the Italian Cup won against Palermo: “Being able to finish the last match of the season with two trophies raised to the sky by Zanetti and Materazzi [the Coppa Italia and the Cup celebrating 150 years of Italian Unification, ed.] is a wonderful thing.” The Inter coach also praised the thousands of supporters who filled the Stadio Olimpico: “They were extraordinary.”

The Inter coach continued: “Irrespective of next season, this season has been great with all of the obstacles we overcame with pride and quality. Inter finished the season with three trophies which means consistency. This group deserved to finish the year by lifting a trophy.”

And again, more compliments for the Nerazzurri players: “I’m proud of this team, a team that had a difficult year, with three coaches and many demands. It wasn’t easy, especially with all the injuries we had. This team really deserved it: with Ranocchia, who played an extraordinary game after being out for 3 days with a fever; with Sneijder, who did what he did after being out for a month; with Julio Cesar, who made exceptional saves; with Eto’o, who ended an extraordinary year with two goals; with Milito, who scored the last goal of Inter’s season after a difficult year; with all the defence that held strong while under pressure. In short, the whole team was great. The will to win was crucial; we also saw it tonight, but in truth it was always there. The squad is there, and if everyone moves forward with the desire to win again we’ll be fine. There was a desire to confirm that this team could keep winning, the challenges will be there and so will we. On 6 August there will be another one right away.”

Leonardo was asked about a possible contract extension after this victory: “I will not talk about my contract until the end of next season. I’m not worried about it and it’s not important to me. This victory changes nothing. I don’t want to talk about it and it’s not on my mind.”

Then an analysis of the match: “At times we struggled to find the players up front, most of all at the beginning. Then scoring a goal helped us a lot. After that, things were managed very intelligently, and we rose to the occasion. I repeat: we deserved this victory.”

Finally, Leonardo told Inter Channel: “The lads threw me in the air with the cup in my hands, and I almost lost it…”

Massimo Moratti
Congratulations to Palermo, “a wonderful team that played a wonderful match,” said Massimo Moratti praising the season of his Inter. The Nerazzurri president spoke to Rai Sport: “A mini-treble? Not at all. One of the three trophies this year was the Club World Cup, I want to remind you – I’ll sign every year for a treble like that…”

The president then stated to Inter Channel: “The passion of the players coincided with that of the fans and vice versa. It was a great victory we strongly wanted and deserved. The third trophy in a season, even if for some they aren’t the most important ones… The beginning of a new cycle? I hope so, especially for Leonardo and those lads who recently arrived in this fantastic group. I wish them luck in winning as much as the team’s veterans, who have won so much in recent years and who still hold a strong desire to win. I hear so many questions about the transfer market, so many names are mentioned to me, but the first thing that comes to mind is to maintain this group, although we’ll do like always and add a few players to help the team to continue winning.”

Javier Zanetti
(Football Data) Tenth appearance in the Coppa Italia final for Javier Zanetti (two in 1999/00, one in 2004/05, two in 2005/06, two in 2006/07, one in 2007/08, one in 2009/10 and one this year), who climbs to fourth place in all-time appearances alongside Christian Panucci, Fausto Pari, Gianluca Vialli and Pietro Vierchowod. The player with the most Coppa Italia final appearances is Roberto Mancini, who can boast 15: from 30/06/1985, AC Milan 0-1 Sampdoria, to 18/05/2000, Inter Milan 0-0 Lazio. In second place with 11 are Fausto Salsano and Francesco Toldo.
“It was a difficult victory, and that makes it even more beautiful. Congratulations to Palermo, who played a great match, but also to us because we showed ourselves again to be a real group and a team that knows how to overcome all obstacles.” Another trophy finishes in the hands of Javier Zanetti, who commented on a final won by Inter with their ever-present commitment and grit. The captain admitted: “It was fantastic to be able to raise another cup. This is also a victory for everyone: the team, the president, Leonardo, the fans – those who were with us in Rome and those who saw the match in front of the television.”
Samuel Eto’o
With the two goals he scored against Palermo in the Italian Cup final, Samuel Eto’o reached 37 for the season, improving on the 36 he scored when he played for Barcelona. But the Cameroonian, speaking to Rai, acknowledged that, “the important thing in football is to win. My record is important too, but it wouldn’t be so sweet without the victories.” After the match the Nerazzurri striker also went to receive applause from the Palermo fans: “Football is a beautiful sport and I wanted to thank all the fans, including the Sicilians who took a long journey to be here.” Will Eto’o remain at Inter? “The president has spoken and that is enough. Will I stay? Certainly.”
Yuto Nagatomo
For Yuto Nagatomo this Coppa Italia represents the first trophy he has won at Inter. The Japanese player smiles and is proud of it: “Many things happened during this year, now – going through this time of great joy – it seems almost incredible, after the tears for the elimination from the World Cup in South Africa. Now it seems like I’m living a dream. I want to continue going forward to improve. These six months at Inter have helped me a lot; one year in this team is like ten in another club. My personal goal for next season? To become the best full-back in the world.”
Andrea Ranocchia
“They were formidable; young players with great talent who could have caused us problems. We did well to close down in the difficult moments and to strike when the time was right.” A lightning recovery and a match played as a true leader, Andrea Ranocchia analysed Palermo, a worthy opponent of the Nerazzurri in the final of the 2010/11 Coppa Italia that saw Inter raise the trophy.

The defender continued: “It was important to win the Coppa Italia. We ended the season with three trophies and we secured the possibility to go out and compete for a trophy as soon as August.”

Conclusion
What an end to what has been a rollercoaster season for the Nerazzurri and despite all the critcism and bad results we showed we are still a very dangerous team.  The 1st and 2nd goals in this final proved that we are up there with the elite in world football and we must do our upmost to keep hold of Eto’o & Sneijder for many years to come as they both essential to the success we acheive last season, this season and hopefully for many years to come.  Now we can look forward to doing it all again in August maybe with a few new faces but always with the pride and passion of the mighty Nerazzurri so the football world be warned we had a bit of a blip this season but next season we’re coming to take it all back.
SEMPRE FORZA INTER!!!

Inter 3-1 Catania Last Game of League Season Secures 12th Home Win In A Row

The last game of the league season meant a convincing win for the Nerazzurri over Catania and also secured Inter’s 12th home win in a row with a brace from Giampaolo Pazzini and an awesome effort from Yuto Nagatomo. Some say Inter have had a disastrous season but in fact that is not true as 2nd place with 76 points and 69 goals in the league is hardly disastrous but I’ll go into details of the season more after the Coppa Italia final in my season review, but for now let’s concentrate on how Inter ended the season on a high.

Match Report
FIRST HALF


With Julio Cesar, Sneijder and Cambiasso all sidelined, Leonardo picked Castellazzi in goal with Stankovic playing right from the kick-off, making up the midfield along with Zanetti and Thiago Motta; Milito started on the bench so, playing in front of Kharja, were Pazzini and Eto’o (in the Cameroonian’s 100th match in Italy). For Catania, with Maxi Lopez unavailable, Schelotto, Bergessio and Gomez took over the attack. The Nerazzurri wore their white away-strip and former player Simeone received applause before Pierpaoli whistled to start the match.

Kharja was the first to come close to scoring after only 8 minutes as he picked up a ball from Chivu and sent it crashing against the bar with a hard right-footed shot from outside the area. A minute later Nagatomo crossed from the right into the middle of the penalty area, Eto’o got a foot to it and Kharja managed to control, but in the confusion Alvarez succeeded in clearing on 9 minutes. Once again however, it was Pazzini who put Inter into the lead as he notched up his 10th goal in a blue and black shirt. Eto’o found Thiago Motta whose back-heeled pass resulted in a clash between Potenza and Kharja, with the Nerazzurri winning the ball and setting up Pazzo.


He had no trouble at all leaving Campagnolo stranded as he struck the ball confidently to make it 1-0 to Inter in the 15th minute. On 27 minutes, following a wonderful pass by Stankovic, Eto’o brought Campagnolo into action again as he saved his curling right-footed shot. The Cameroonian popped up again one minute later as he shot from outside the area, but the ball went high over the crossbar. Pierpaoli’s whistle on 46 minutes sent the teams into the dressing rooms with the score at 1-0 in Inter’s favour.

SECOND HALF
The second half got underway with Milito in attack in place of Eto’o and it was the Prince who broke away on the right and laid off an inch-perfect pass across the box which found Pazzini ready and waiting to fire into the net right-footed and put Inter 2-0 up. Catania began to react and on 55 minutes Bergessio’s shot from the edge of the area found Castellazzi ready to parry the ball away for a corner-kick.


The final day of the 2010/11 league season was also to bring glory to Nagatomo who made it three in the 63rd minute, as he scored his second ever goal for the Nerazzurri, after his first in Genoa v Inter. Picking up a pass from Lucio, his shot took a slight upward deflection off Terlizzi as it sped diagonally across the box into the back of the net.
Catania got back into the match in the 66th minute when Ledesma scored following a corner taken by Lodi. But Inter continued to dominate. Chivu, after being set up by Nagatomo, tried to catch Campagnolo unawares with a header in the goalmouth, but the Sicilian goalkeeper was equal to it and turned the ball away for a corner on 68 minutes. In the 69th minute a controversial episode, when Terlizzi and Materazzi made contact, could have led to a possible penalty for the Nerazzurri, but Pierpaoli waved play on.
In the 70th minute all of the Stadio Meazza rose to welcome a visibly-moved Walter Samuel back onto the pitch and it was a matter of minutes before “the Wall” narrowly missed a chance from a Kharja corner and Milito didn’t manage a match-winning deflection on 71 minutes. After 2 minutes of added time Inter v Catania ended with a score of 3-1 to the Nerazzurri. Inter thus closed their league campaign with a total of 76 points and second place in the table. Next target for Inter is the Coppa Italia: see you at the Stadio Olimpico on 29 May.

Inter 3-1 Catania (HT: 1-0)
Scorers
: Pazzini 15, 48, Nagatomo 63, Ledesma 66.

Referee: Nicola Pierpaoli (Florence).
Added time: 1 + 2 minutes.
Attendance: 56,072.
Line Ups

Inter:


12 Castellazzi; 55 Nagatomo, 15 Ranocchia (25 Samuel 70), 6 Lucio, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta, 5 Stankovic (23 Materazzi 56); 14 Kharja; 7 Pazzini, 9 Eto’o (22 Milito 46).
Unused subs: 21 Orlandoni, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev, 29 Coutinho.
Coach: Leonardo.

Catania:
30 Campagnolo; 22 Alvarez, 2 Potenza, 23 Terlizzi, 33 Capuano (19 Ricchiuti 55); 8 Ledesma, 5 Carboni (10 Lodi 55), 12 Marchese; 7 Schelotto, 9 Bergessio, 17 Gomez.
Unused subs: 1 Kosicky, 13 Izco, 15 Morimoto, 18 Augustyn, 20 Martinho.
Coach: Diego Simeone.
Reactions
Leonardo


“Twelve home wins in a row means lots of things: points on the board, consistency, and the fact that the team has been able to produce. But the satisfaction lies more in what we have achieved than in the record itself.” That was how Leonardo replied, after the 3-1 win over Catania, when reminded of the Nerazzurri’s 12 consecutive home wins with him in the dugout.

“Staying in control of the game at a slow pace wasn’t easy,” he added. “It wasn’t easy but the players did really well. There were lots of positives today and Inter are definitely on the up. Overall it’s been a positive season, although there’s still one game left and it’s a really important one for us. What we have achieved since 6 January has been great – the only major disappointment are those four damned days. But now we have to focus on the Coppa Italia final, which is a big target. The image of the winning team will remain in people’s minds because it is the last match of the European season. Are Palermo tough opposition? They did very well in the first part of the season and have been less consistent since then, but they have great qualities as a team and as individuals.”
Naturally, the coach was also asked about possible transfer deals: “We’ve got to the point where the transfer market permeates everything. I think this team just needs a few minor adjustments to be competitive on all fronts. The core of the team is there and it’s what gives this group its spirit, so that shouldn’t be touched.”
Leonardo also spoke about Walter Samuel, who was acclaimed by the Meazza crowd when he came on: “Today he gave us a further sign that that everything is going well.”
Javier Zanetti


“We wanted to round things off with a party atmosphere by doing as well as we could, and I think we did that with a great performance today. It’s what we needed to help us go into next week’s final on top of our game.” Speaking to Inter Channel, Javier Zanetti analysed the game that ended Inter’s Serie A 2010/11 league campaign. It was also the prelude to what will be the Nerazzurri’s most important match of the season: the Coppa Italia final. Inter’s opponents in next Sunday’s final, Palermo, were beaten by Chievo today, and Zanetti was asked if he thought their defeat could have a bearing on next week’s game. “No, because it’s a final and both teams will be giving it their absolute best.”
Nagatomo scored a lovely goal to cap a fantastic performance against Catania. “I find it very easy to play alongside Yuto,” the captain continued. “He has lots of qualities and I don’t know how many times he managed get free and put in perfect crosses.” Is he left- or right-footed? “No one seems to know but anyhow I’m very pleased for him because he’s settled in really well and has become an important part of this team.”
Rational and focused – would that be a fair description of the way Inter played against Catania today? “The main reason we needed a performance like that was to go into next Sunday at our best,” explained Zanetti. “A game which, I repeat, is very important to us so that we can round off the season raising another trophy.”

Giampaolo Pazzini


Giampaolo Pazzini spoke to Inter Channel after hitting a double against Catania, which took his tally for the Nerazzurri to eleven: “I’m really happy with this win, with my brace and with these first few months I’ve spent here at Inter – I feel as if I’ve settled in perfectly. There are lots of world-class players at this club and doing well here gives me great pride and makes me happy. I was desperate to show what I can do and I think I’ve done that. What counts now, of course, is keeping it up. Next year we’ll start the season with even more enthusiasm.”
Asked which of his eleven goals for Inter is his favourite, Pazzini replied: “The second goal against Palermo, which levelled the score at 2-2. It was my debut and that goal meant a lot.”
What about next week’s final? “I’ve only taken part in one Coppa Italia final, and unfortunately we lost on penalties. I want to make up for that next Sunday.”
Yuto Nagatomo


“I’m very happy, but more for what the whole team did today. I’m really pleased with my goal – my second at the Meazza – and the warmth of the crowd and my team-mates was touching.” After his stunning strike against Catania, which put Inter 3-0 up, Yuto Nagatomo told the Japanese journalists about how he felt after his first four months playing for Inter by giving himself a mark: “I’d say 6/10 because I still have learn and improve lots of things. I’m aware of that and it’s something I will strive to do.
“Am I right- or left-footed? I feel comfortable on the right or on the left, wherever Leonardo needs me. I’ll make whatever sacrifices are necessary to help him and the whole group.”
With Inter ending the season in second place, Nagatomo admitted that “Of course I would have preferred to be first because always want to win, but we finished second and we still have a cup final to play.”
A huge grin spread across his face when he was asked about his goal: “How did I score it? I shot… and the ball went in.”
Finally, Nagatomo reminded everybody about the important event taking place tomorrow afternoon in Perugia – a friendly match to raise funds for the city of Sendai. “I will be there and Materazzi will be with me.”

Walter Samuel

Walter Samuel spoke to Sky Sport Italia after the Inter v Catania match, clearly moved by the affection the Meazza faithful showed him when he made his entrance as a second-half substitute: “It was a wonderful moment, a great feeling to see all the people that have been so supportive to me – my family, the president, who has said such kind things about me, Leonardo, who brought me on. I hope I can always be of assistance to the team, maybe even in Rome. I’m pleased and proud to be part of this group. It was tough for me being on the sidelines for so long but I’m happy now.”

Conclusion

So that’s the end of the 2010/2011 Serie A season and what a rollercoaster season it’s been, but now we must concentrate on securing the Coppa Italia then we can see what happens in the summer with transfers but with all the rumours of big name & talented players coming to Inter we can be sure that the mighty Nerazzurri will go from strength to strength and we will be back at the top next season. All i can say is roll on the start of next season and Forza Inter the greatest team in the world.

1000 Career Apperances For Javier Zanetti

Tonight’s Coppa Italia 2nd leg match against Roma will see our great captain enter the record books once again by joining the few players in football history to play 1000 professional games, for me he is the perfect player that any team would love to have he has bags of ability and stamina, he’s a great leader of his team and most importantly he is extreemly loyal, his 16 year career at Inter proves he loves this great club of ours as much as every Interista on the planet and he would fight all the way to acheive Inter’s dreams and goals.  Footballers around the world should take a leaf out of his book and play for the love of their club over their love for the money, but in this respect Zanetti is a rarity in the modern game and for his continued comitment to Inter we salute him as one of Inter’s all time greats!


The target is one thousand. One thousand appearances as a professional footballer –  “I’m proud to have reached this figure. A thousand games, all of which mean a lot to me. It’s a very important personal achievement. So far I have made 33 appearances with Talleres, which was my first club, 66 with Banfield, 12 with the Argentina Under-23 side, 140 with the senior side and 748 with Inter: 999 in total. If I play against Roma, I’ll make it to 1000, which is a huge milestone. I’ve always done everything in my career with passion. Football has given me a lot and I’ve tried to do my bit whenever I’ve been called upon. Reaching this figure is also significant because there aren’t many players who have done it, just nine, and I’ll be the tenth; they are all famous names so it makes me very proud to be among them.” That was how captain Zanetti spoke, almost moved, about the milestone he hopes to reach in tomorrow evening’s match at the Meazza.Of the other nine who have made it to the 1000 mark – Peter Shilton, Ray Clemence, Pat Jennings, Alan Ball, David Seaman, Paolo Maldini, Andoni Zubizarreta, Roberto Carlos and Tommy Hutchinson – the Nerazzurri captain has particularly fond memories of Roberto Carlos and Paolo Maldini, “Two people that I have always admired a great deal; I’m very happy to be joining them. Maldini gave so much to world football, and from the moment I arrived in Italy I’ve always admired him for the career he had and for the person he is. Derby matches with him as an opponent were always very intense but also very fair. I have great memories of those.”
Zanetti then spoke about his behaviour on and off the pitch throughout his career: “I have always acted on the pitch just like the person I am. I always try to be myself – that’s very important to me.” And it seems it is appreciated not only by Nerazzurri fans but also by supporters of other clubs: “It’s so nice to meet people who maybe aren’t Inter fans but who come up to pay me their compliments anyway. That is a great recognition.”
Turning to the Coppa Italia semi-final and looking beyond, Zanetti said: “Tomorrow is a big moment for us: a cup semi-final against an excellent team such as Roma. Hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate afterwards. Then… I want to continue: 1001, 1002 and so on, until the time comes for me to say enough is enough.”
The skipper also mentioned the first coach he had as a professional, Norberto D’Angelo, at Talleres: “D’Angelo gave me the chance to begin this adventure in football which has taken me to where I am today. I’m grateful to him.”
His trip down memory lane than took him through his early Inter days: “My first coach was Ottavio Bianchi. My first room-mate at La Pinetina [Inter’s training ground complex – ed.] was Roberto Carlos: we had both just been bought by Inter and we shared a room. Actually, my very first room-mate was Benny Carbone, in Cavalese during our pre-season preparations, then it was Roberto Carlos once we started playing matches.”
Finally, a special thank you: “Thanks to all the fans I have had, who have always shown me so much affection – that’s something you can never forget.”
President Moratti was asked in about the memories he shares with the Nerazzurri captain: “I think what everybody remembers is that he never has a hair out of place… [smiling] Then there’s the fact that, even when he’s exhausted, he’s able to maintain the dignity, desire and pride of a professional footballer, the like of which I don’t think has ever been seen before. What sticks most in my mind when I think about Zanetti? The moment in which he was at his absolute happiest, which I think was in Madrid when we won the Champions League. He’s not the sort of player who expresses his joy wildly – he also has his role as captain to keep up – so the times when you see him really happy stick in your mind. That night he turned back into the young lad he was when I first signed him.”
All in all Javier Zanetti is a true legend, not just for Inter but also for football in general, his professionalism and commitment to the game ensures that he receives the greatest respect from all football fans around the world even if they don’t support the mighty Nerazzurri and even at 37 years old he has proven he can hold his own against the youngsters and i’m sure he’s got a few years playing time left in him yet.
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