The former Nerazzurri goalkeeper and Hall of Famer relives the match against the Giallorossi ahead of Friday’s game

The history of Inter vs. Roma - Walter Zenga and the UEFA Cup in '91: “What a team!”
The history of Inter vs. Roma - Walter Zenga and the UEFA Cup in '91: “What a team!”
The history of Inter vs. Roma - Walter Zenga and the UEFA Cup in '91: “What a team!”

MILAN - When you mention Inter and Roma you immediately think of spectacular matches full of goals, comebacks and drama until the final minute. The two sides have faced off in plenty of finals, six in total. Five in the Coppa Italia (three won by Inter) and once in the UEFA Cup. That final in 1991 brought the Nerazzurri their first UEFA Cup in history after two legs between the sides: a 2-0 win at San Siro and a 1-0 defeat at the Olimpico. Triumph for the Nerazzurri.

It was the Inter of Giovanni Trapattoni and the German trio of Brehme, Matthäus and Klinsmann, along with Berti and Bergomi, and of course Walter Zenga as the last line of defence. A true goalkeeping great, and a diehard Inter fan who wore the Nerazzurri shirt for much of his life. Ahead of our next clash with Roma on Friday night at San Siro (21:00 KO), the Spider-Man takes us back in time as he looks back on his memories against the Giallorossi.

“That Inter, what a side. It was a crazy season: we had to fight a lot in the league but we were literally flying in the European Cup. We nearly went out to Rapid Wien and we would have done had it not been for my double save in the 90th minute…” Walter remembered everything: “That was just it. As I’ve already said, the game I’d like to play again is my debut for Inter, that way I’d have the chance to play another 472 matches in Nerazzurri colours.”

An eternal bond to the Club which was only strengthened in that final won against Roma: “The two-legged final was really tough. They were two matches full of tension, both in stadiums full of fans who were all filled with expectation. Both Matthäus and Berti scored in the first leg, I didn’t have to make any big saves. San Siro was packed, our team was solid and we had a lot of character. There were more than 70,000 fans at the Olimpico, it was a really tough atmosphere to play in. But we were so strong and we knew that even after Rizzitelli’s goal in the closing minutes we weren’t going to fall apart. We knew how to manage even the most delicate of situations. Also, I was playing with Bergomi and Ferri, with the Germans, I was well protected, in fact that goal against Roma was the first one I conceded in the cup for a while after a row of clean sheets.

“Lothar scored from the spot in the first leg, even though during the week I used to stand between the posts and challenge Andy Brehme to do his worst: he would score ten penalties out of ten against me, five with his right and five with his left. A true phenomenon. But Matthäus was just unbelievable. Every now and then during the game he’d drop back to the area and say to me: “Give me the ball, I’ll take care of it.” We played without Serena in Rome after he injured his shoulder. I remember the joy on the pitch and the people waiting for us in the airport when we brought the cup home.”

That side then won the UEFA Cup yet again three years later, against Salzburg at San Siro. It was Walter Zenga’s final game in an Inter shirt. A twelve-year-long adventure that came to an end with a string of amazing saves: “No one can ever take the joy I felt that evening away from me. I knew that it would be my farewell match with Inter. It had been a long a difficult season. San Siro was rocking, everyone was chanting my name. Jonk scored and we won in front of everyone. A perfect and unforgettable script for everyone.”

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