The record-breaker. Javier Adelmar Zanetti joined Inter in pre-season as a 22-year-old, with his shoes in a plastic bag and his face showing an unfazed look of indifference. The pundits were all waiting for Sebastian Rambert, a player who was certainly the more popular of the two Argentinians at the time. However, the latter’s career panned out differently, as he returned to his native country almost straight away. Meanwhile, Zanetti retired as a player aged 41, with a teary San Siro crowd there to honour him.
As a whole, his career was exceptional. He was forever present in the team and a prime example for the rest to follow, always with that same smile and long-standing haircut. He scored a memorable goal to help pick up his first trophy - the 1998 UEFA Cup - while he then missed out on lifting his first as captain back in 2005, as the Coppa Italia coincided with the Copa America. However, this would mean little in the long run, as he would go on to train his biceps by lifting cup after cup after cup: five Scudetti, three more Coppa Italia trophies, one Club World Cup and the Champions League - the latter secured on a memorable night in Madrid.
Upon his arrival at Inter, it was his mazy dribbles from the wing that often caught the eye, however, he then went on to become a formidable full-back and also an intelligent midfielder in the latter stages of his career. Towards the end of his time with Inter, he’d cut down on his offensive forays forward, instead choosing to exploit them carefully. Prime examples of this include his goal against Roma that helped secure the Scudetto and his assist for Milito in Siena that also helped obtain another.
He arrived as a foreigner, but now could almost be deemed Italian, or more specifically, Milanese. However, it is worth noting that he’s always preferred to live in Como, savouring the lake’s beauty and tranquillity. During his time with Inter, he broke almost every record imaginable. He made 858 appearances, playing a total of 73284 minutes. This included 160 European appearances, 47 derbies, 13 years as captain and most importantly, 16 winners’ medals. He is also top of the list in terms of all-time appearances for Argentina. His South American nickname, Pupi, one which he’s had since he was a child, is what he opted for when naming his Foundation.
In 2001, Javier and his wife Paula created a non-profit organisation that looks to help children and adolescents in Argentina. When Zanetti arrived at Inter in 1995, it was at the same time Italian football were introducing fixed shirt numbers, with players’ surnames written above, as in the Premier League and with American sports.
Now, above the No.4 at FC Internazionale, there will never be another name other than Zanetti.
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