Examining the Inter career of the Argentine defender, a fighter and a role model: "I shared a dressing room with unbelievable superstars"

MILAN – Nicolas Andres Burdisso’s fighting spirit comes from his birthplace, Altos de Chipion, a small countryside town in the province of Cordoba, Argentina.

The place is imbued with the pride of its indigenous origins and legends of the townsfolk bravely defending what they little had from outside threats in centuries gone by. Little did they know that the Burdisso family would continue that noble tradition.

Born to Enio Burdisso, a P.E. teacher and former footballer at Istituto de Cordoba, Nicolas’ relationship with the sport really took off in Rosario and Buenos Aires, places where charisma and personality are fundamental qualities for a footballer as well as a man.

Luckily, Burdisso had grit by the bucketload and it didn’t take long for people to notice at Newell’s Old Boys, the renowned hotbed of talent in Argentina. Nevertheless, after two years at The Lepers’ academy, the young defender was cast off. It was a difficult time for Nicolas, but he got through it doing what he does best: getting his head down, working hard and fighting.

He moved to the capital, got a trial at Boca Juniors and was welcomed into the arms of La Bombonera, the majestic cathedral of football that previously he had only seen on television. That was also when his desire to play there one day was born. And he would, magnificently.

His time at Boca yielded two leagues titles, three Copa Libertadores triumphs and two Intercontinental Cups, enough to catch Inter’s eye, so he swapped Argentina for Milan and the 80,000 fans waiting for him at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

From 2004 to 2009, Burdisso was an ever-present in the Nerazzurri dressing room and was instrumental in the club winning back the Scudetto after so long. Under both Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourinho, whatever line-up was put out during that period was dead-set on victory and truly remarkable, and Burdisso was one of the biggest characters in the squad. In total, he helped Inter to four Scudetto titles, two Coppa Italia triumphs and four Italian Super Cups.

"I came across a calm and positive atmosphere at Inter,” Burdisso recalled. “I shared a dressing room with unbelievable superstars, genuinely humble and straight-forward people."

Burdisso made more than 100 appearances for the Nerazzurri and scored eight goals, including four in the 2006/07 Coppa Italia campaign (he scored a brace of headers, his speciality, against Messina in the last-16). He experienced momentous occasions, like wearing Giacinto Facchetti’s No.3 shirt for the last time before it was retired, but also personal tragedy when he had to take time away from football to help his daughter Angela fight leukaemia.

Throughout it all, he always had the fans’ support to rely on and the applause that greeted his return to action against Livorno in October 2005 was spine-tingling. He later revealed in an interview that writing helped him overcome the difficult moments as well.

"There’s a sentence in Murakami that goes: ‘I have to write things down to feel I fully comprehend them.’ That’s why I’ve put my life story down on paper. I only let my wife, Maria Belen, read it. Writing has helped me reflect."

Nicolas is a unique individual and it has shown throughout his career. In 2009, he left Inter for the capital and Roma, joining his younger brother Guillermo at the Giallorossi. After that, he went back north to Genoa. Both at the Stadio Olimpico and the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, he never ceased to fight because, quite simply, his spirit demands it.

For a kid from Altos de Chipion, you wouldn’t expect anything else.

Bruno Bottaro

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