My 1st year as an Interista by @Robert_Iadanza
I thought I was just being a good parent. What I didn’t realize was that moment changed my life in a way I never expected – it became even better and even more meaningful.
Then a funny thing happened. I fell in love. At 41, I fell in love with calcio. I was proud of Isabella as she was getting great joy out of playing. She was improving and scored her first goal! As an avid sports fan, I have to root for a player and a team. My daughter will always be my favorite player. So what team would I fall in love with? Being an Italian-American, I knew my love was waiting for me in Serie A. My team had to have tradition, a loyal fan base…and a jersey I would love wearing!
Juve? NO…they wore pink and looked like referees. Plus they cheat, and that’s simply not worthy of my affection. Half of Italy seems to root for them and I wanted no part of that. Milan? No…they were the defending Serie A champs and I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon. Plus, I don’t look good in red! (and imagine my surprise to learn that Inter has a red kit next year…go figure…)
Internazionale? Hmmm…this one had promise. Great tradition – the “rebel” team from Milan that was the first Serie A team to allow non-Italians to play. Plenty of people on Twitter to interact with and a jersey that I loved! Those black and blue stripes are both classy and bad ass at the same time! A serpent on the road kit? BOSS!! OH YEAH…Inter was the team for me!! I proposed in early June with my first jersey purchase… Now I own three, and a jacket, numerous banners, an Inter hat and even an Inter mini-ball!
And then I found you. My second family. #InterFamily! With great patience, a touch of amusement (I hope) with my endless questions, and the care one would give to a family member, you all helped me learn more about your beloved Nerazzuri. George (@interfan) was the first Interisti to respond to me. The first of many. @Don_Nerazzuri and @nerazzurri08 became Mike and Brian, respectively. I discussed my daughter’s soccer exploits, the battle of turning my wife into an Interista (and my gift of Inter underwear for my wife!) with @La_Pinetina. You all got me through the crazy summer of 2011, the strike that delayed the start of Serie A, our endless search for a coach, the sale of Eto’o, and the near sale of Sneijder. My head was spinning with all the rumors of who was coming and who was going, when Serie A was to begin and why there are stars above the emblems of some teams. It was crazy and even though I didn’t understand it all, I couldn’t get enough of it! That’s how it is when you are in love.
It was all of you who made me an Interista. YOU who welcomed me into your family, and YOU who passed on some of your passion to me. YOU helped make Inter as beloved to me as it is to you. I can never repay you for this new love and joy you have brought into my life and I will always treasure the friendships made – and those still to come!
Supercoppa arrived…my first official game as an Interista! I ordered RAI from the local cable company, woke up really early, hung my Inter banners, put on my number 7 Pazzini jersey (7 is my number…always has been) and logged onto Twitter so I could at least feel as if we were all watching the game together. Wes scored on an amazing free kick to give us the lead and I lost it: “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! GRANDE WES!!! FORZA INTER!!” I woke up the house and the neighbors! I didn’t care…I felt alive and I felt black and blue bolts of electricity ripping through my body. I felt as if I had scored that goal.
We all know how the game turned out, how the first few games that season went. Gasperini didn’t last long and the Tinkerman came in to right the ship. There was talk from some of Inter being relegated for the first time. I began to feel as if I was a bad luck charm and my becoming a new fan was somehow affecting our club.
Thanks to Fox Soccer, I cancelled RAI, but when the games were not televised for me, I took to Twitter. Without a doubt, Twitter is an American Interisti’s best friend! When I DVR’d the game or it when it was not being shown live, not knowing what was happening was an agony. Your updates were wonderful to read, and when I went from 0 to 20 new tweets in an instant, I knew someone had scored. Excitement and dread reigned…was it us or was it them? Tweets of “IL PRINCIPE!!” brought much yelling from me! On the other hand, a “LUCIO…NOOOOO” was likely to get my Inter mini-ball kicked across the room. I’d never kick a living thing. Unless it was a RuBentus goal…
Under Ranieri and without Wes, Maicon, and others, Inter went on a roll. Was Champions League play in our future? All of a sudden it seemed possible again. Was it safe to dream of that third spot? Lazio, Napoli, and the Udinese were in the hunt for this coveted third spot as well, and they weren’t going away. YES…I would allow myself dream right along with you. That’s what you do when you’re in love.
The Friday before the Derby Della Madonnina arrived! Inter was on a roll and I wanted to be a part of it. On a whim, I checked flights from New York to Milan. There was availability and the price was just right. Match tickets? Available. Tweeting with Mike and Brian got me very much excited about the possibility. There was a layover in London and I could meet Mike and his wife. Try as I might, I could not get our Don to come with me! The flight was teed up on Travelocity and the PURCHASE FLIGHT button was teasing me, testing my manhood and my newfound love of Inter. I then asked my wife, feeling sure she would remind me how expensive of a weekend it would be. Perhaps I wanted her to say no, knowing it would be an irresponsible thing to do. And a funny thing happened…Kim said that I don’t do anything spontaneous anymore and that I deserved to go. It is amazing knowing that I married such a terrific woman.
In the end, I did not go. The weather would be pretty cold and I really don’t know much Italian. Not a great way to travel abroad all by myself. I wound up throwing an Inter party at my home, where my family could enjoy watching me make a complete ass of myself! Hopefully I did not disappoint! My nephew became a Milanista and I took great delight in razzing him all game long (note: he’s only 8…)
My aborted trip did spawn an idea, however: #Intercation, 2015! I put the money that would have gone towards this trip in a savings account and now am planning to take my family to Europe in the summer of 2015. The highlight of that trip will be an Inter game at the Meazza and the #InterFamily Reunion! Let’s all get to a game together! It is three years away but there has been great interest so far…let me know if you want to be on the email list so I keep all informed. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the Derby win, Inter fell on hard times and the Tinkerman was let go. While Ranieri was a loyal, hard-working, decent man (who can forget him crying following the Inter win over Chievo), the CL loss to Marseilles and Serie A loss to RuBe was too much to overcome. Replacing him was the coach of our NextGen winning Primavera team, Andrea Stramaccioni. Now, I’m a New York Yankee fan and know a thing or two about impetuous owners…but this was the RIGHT CALL TO MAKE! Strama brings a youth and exuberance that had been missing. Again the Inter fan base seemed energized – this is a resilient group, I have learned…one so used to winning and to taking home trophies, yet now falling on hard times. But NEVER losing faith. But would this youth coach be able to connect with our veteran-laden team? And would we finally begin playing some of our youth?
All questions were shortly answered as Inter got hot again, going 4-2-0 in Strama’s first six games. The team seemed rejuvenated and was playing with purpose. The wunderkind was making Signore Moratti look like a genius! A second half collapse led to a devastating loss in Parma, the first under Strama. Our CL hopes were badly hurt, but not completely destroyed. Our pulse was low but our heart still beat, we still believed! We needed many things to go right for us but first we had to take care of business…and beat Milan in the derby!
There would be no party at my house this time. It was me, Isabella, and Kim and it was all business. Trailing 2 – 1, and in a foul mood, Isabella presented me with two pictures she had been drawing:
It was all I needed to see. Reinvigorated, I got off the couch and began to cheer louder, willing our team forward. As Interisti, we do feel as if we are heard, that our energy can carry the team. No matter how far away from the team we actually are, we DO make a difference. Two Milito goals later – and an absolute stunner of an exclamation point from Maicon – we had our 4 – 2 victory and a clean sweep in the Derby! All was right again in the world!
We all know how the season ended. There is no need to rehash the disappointment of it all. This first season has been a blast and to be honest, I would not change anything about it…getting involved in this beautiful game, choosing Inter as my team, interacting with all of you, and enjoying our new love with my family! Don_Nerazzuri even made me a Capo in the #InterFamily, bestowing the name “Il Bambino” on me!
The future is as bright as last season was bleak. We have much to look forward to and a ton of fun in sharing it all! See you all on Twitter…and in Milan in 2015!
Sempre Forza Inter!
Follow Robert on Twitter – @Robert_Iadanza