MILAN - Francesco Toldo spoke to inter.it about the Inter Forever project:
Francesco, how did Inter Forever come about?
"The idea for the project took shape from one of my chats with Giacinto Facchetti during the time he was president. He explained how he would like to create a link between the Nerazzurri players of the past and those of the present. I never forgot this conversation and two years ago told Massimo Moratti about it, and he had the idea to develop it even further. After my fantastic experience as Inter Campus ambassador, which I will always hold dear to me, the moment arrived to start up the project along with a capable staff."
Right now who is involved with Inter Forever?
"All the former players who will become an important resource for the entire club, those from the Inter Clubs, along with others who are involved with Inter’s business, social and communications areas. We’ll organise meetings with the youth academy to pass on the experience and positive values of our past champions. Furthermore, we’ll play games with both international level teams as well as local ones. The aim is to support social causes, which is the spirit this club has always been known for."
Perhaps a lot of our fans don’t know that, as you stated, you had been thinking of putting the idea of Inter Forever into action for several years. But the official inauguration of the project took place on 1 December 2013, when president Thohir wholeheartedly embraced the idea and wanted to see it launched for his debut at the San Siro. It was a significant way to bring it about.
"Before responding I’d like to go back a bit and add something I had forgotten and hold to be important. When it comes to the fulfilment of this project I have to thank Alberto Rovatti, the secretary of the youth academy during Pellegrini’s presidency, who together with Inter Master maintained a sense of unity with the players of the 70s and 80s through periodic reunions.
"But getting back to your question, it was actually a sort of lucky coincidence. This year we had planned to invite some ex-players to every game. We started with Inter v Sampdoria and the new president showed he wanted to enhance the project by deciding to develop it even more. We were really struck by how much time he dedicated even to those who had played only one game for Inter. He met with many ex-Nerazzurri players in a room at the stadium, giving each one a personalised shirt with their name and the number they had worn. He really showed a lot of respect for Nerazzurri history."
In the coming months Inter Forever will be in the spotlight thanks to several initiatives both on and off the pitch. Not only games, but also meetings with the fans. Can you explain these upcoming events?
"Today, Monday 17 February, Bergomi, Ferri, Ze Maria, Centofanti and Beccalossi are coming to meet with us at the club’s headquarters. We’ll make a stop to say hello at the Brooks Brothers store and then meet the fans at the Solo Inter store. Next, on Monday 24 March in Appiano Gentile, there will be a friendly game against the employees of the company Oknoplast, one of the Nerazzurri’s top sponsors, and proceeds will be donated towards children with illnesses.
"The other game we’ll play will be on Saturday 31 May against the Azzurrissimi, the ex-Italian national team players, against ex-players from Barcelona. It will be a ‘showball’ game, which is a special kind of 5-a-side game. A three-way tournament at the Pala Facchetti in Treviglio, specially dedicated to the ex-Nerazzurri president. And then there will be a big surprise between the end of May and early June to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the first European Cup victory, although we still can’t reveal very much about it."
You truly represent what probably all ex-Nerazzurri feel. But you really wanted to go beyond these feelings and devote your time to turning this sense of belonging into something concrete. How does it make you feel to carry this Interista sentiment all over the world?
"The desire to be able to do something extra to repay Inter for what they have given me has always been something profound. I’m very proud to be able to contribute and spread the idea of what Inter represents. Our club is made up of many important elements. Furthermore, I’d say that Inter fans are people known for their elegance, moral integrity, strong sense of belonging, a sense of patience that is always being tested and joy mixed with suffering. And if you look among all the spectacle, you’ll see that, generally, Inter fans stand out for the way they’re always behaved, how they carry themselves and for the high-profile careers they’ve had. I’d like to conclude with a quote from the book ‘Ora sei una stella’ that, in my opinion, explains better than anything else what it means to be an Interista: ‘You can recognise an Inter fan by their style and elegance. We are Giacinto Facchetti.’ All of this comes from an infinite beauty…"