MILAN – Who will enter the 2020 Inter Hall of Fame? Eight Nerazzurri legends have already been inducted following votes cast by the Inter faithful in the past two years. In the goalkeeper category (click here to see the 2020 candidates), Zenga and Toldo were the winners in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Here are five pieces of trivia relating to Walter Zenga, the Nerazzurri Spider-Man.
1. The first goalkeeper to enter the Inter Hall of Fame
Walter Zenga was the first goalkeeper to be inducted into the Inter Hall of Fame. In 2018, Spider-Man finished ahead of Francesco Toldo and Gianluca Pagliuca in the first edition. The other winners that year were Javier Zanetti, Lothar Matthäus (Walter’s teammate from 1988 to 1992) and Ronaldo.
2. From Macallesi to Inter’s youth setup: a true Interista
Born in Milan on 28 April 1960, Zenga has a close bond to Viale Ungheria, the neighbourhood he grew up in. His first team was Macallesi 1927, a historic Milanese side. Accompanying him on his journey was his father, Alfonso, who had been a goalkeeper for Napoli in 1945/46. Zenga was a precocious talent and started his journey in competitive youth football against older peers. He’d always been a Nerazzurri fan and used to attend Inter games at San Siro. He became part of the Nerazzurri’s youth academy in 1971 when he was eleven years old.
3. Not only Inter: the six other teams Zenga played for
After coming through Inter’s youth ranks, Zenga continued his development by going out on loan to three sides, a period which saw him play Serie C1 and C2 football. These teams were Salernitana, Savona and Sambenedettese, with the latter achieving promotion to Serie B while he was there. In 1982, he returned to Inter and played five Coppa Italia fixtures for the Club during his first season. He remained at the Nerazzurri until 1994, the year when he joined Sampdoria. He spent two seasons with the Blucerchiati before moving to Serie B side Padova, for whom he played in 1996/97. He then headed to the United States, where he kept goal for New England Revolutions in the MLS. He became the team’s player-coach in his final year, marking the start of his managerial career.
As for his international career, Zenga featured 58 times for the Italian National Team, conceding just 21 goals. At the 1990 World Cup held in Italy, he didn’t concede for 517 minutes, setting a record in the competition in the process.
4. Recognised as the world’s best goalkeeper for three consecutive years
The only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon d’Or is Lev Yashin. In 1990, Walter Zenga finished in 12th place in the annual award presented by France Football. However, for three consecutive years (1989, 1990, 1991), Zenga was recognised as the best goalkeeper in the world by the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics). A great achievement.
1989: 1 Walter Zenga (Inter), 2 Michel Preud'homme (Mechelen), 3 Rinat Dasaev (Sevilla);
1990: 1 Walter Zenga (Inter), 2 Sergio Goycochea (Millonarios), 3 Luis Gabelo Conejo (Ramonense);
1991: 1 Walter Zenga (Inter), 2 Sergio Goycochea (Racing Club), 3 Claudio Taffarel (Parma).
5. The game he’d like to play again
Walter Zenga played 473 matches for Inter from 1982 to 1994. His list of honours is as follows: 1989 Scudetto (the record-breaking triumph), Supercoppa Italiana (x1), UEFA Cup (x2, 1990/91 and 1993/94). The return leg of the 1994 UEFA Cup final was his last game for the Club (Inter 1-0 Salzburg). As for the match he’d like to play again, he’s previously said the following, a reflection of the great affection he feels towards the Nerazzurri: “My debut for Inter, that way I’d have the chance to play another 472 matches in the Nerazzurri colours.” Zenga’s first appearance for Inter came on 5 April 1983. Although the Nerazzurri lost 1-0 to Varese that day (Di Giovanni with the goal), it ultimately didn’t matter: Inter had won the first leg of the Coppa Italia round of 16 clash between the two sides and therefore progressed.