On the road to Porto with Inter Club
On the road to Porto with Inter Club
Community— Mar 14th 2023
Setting off. You get all sorts of feelings on departing: a bit of anxiety, high expectations. You know what's waiting for you: the destination, the hard work, the journey. But there's that beautiful and unfathomable thrill that runs up and down your spine, especially when the trip has a clear and defined reason, even if it is still to be achieved. All that you can do is take your faith and passion with you: fill a foreign land with your colours, make your presence be felt from miles away; take Inter everywhere, for Inter.
Destination: Porto, Portugal. Where the Duero runs, there's another river, a Nerazzurri one, that brings the city to life. 2,500 Inter Club members, from across Italy and the World, have made their way to Portugal with a date and time pencilled in their diaries: 20:00 (local time), at stadio do Dragão for the Champions League last-16 second leg. Inter are to be supported with voices loud and proud, in a stadium that is sure to be electric.
Trento, Udine, Cortina, Rome, Florence. Arrivals from across Italy. And not only: Paris, Albania, Germany. Inter unite when called upon. Porto is a river of Italian voices, scarves, Nerazzurri jerseys. The sun is bearing down, it feels deep into springtime. Those who come from Genoa have flown from Marseille, and walk the streets of the city, stopping and bringing life to local bars. There's a wave of Nerazzurri.
Inter Club Genova Nerazzurra was founded ten years ago; it's an united group of people who don't want to change their rituals. There's a father and his son, Alessio, who is six years old and on his first-ever away trip abroad. Since he was three, he's been a Club member and wears a special shirt: on the back, "PRESIDENT" is written because taking it everyone with him "he is the Club's symbolic President, the youngest of Italy". He's loving every minute of it, and does everything the adults do - except partake in a beer - and quickly learns the songs that resonate around. He follows the official Club President, his father, every step of the way, revealing his customs and habits with ease, that all members know about: "The night before the game, I always sleep on the couch, while during the match I use one scarf in the first half and then this one after the break, a beautiful woolly scarf from the 1988/89 season, the year of the record Scudetto".
The Inter supporters sing, sing loud to the rhythms of the tambourine. And even welcome those who have unbelievably ridden to Porto by bicycle. Yes, but from nearby but from Mantova. It's true! Francesco Tosato has Inter in his blood, in his legs. And for every away game, he mounts his Nerazzurri Cinelli, sets off from home, from Mantova, and arrives at the stadium where his team are playing. Everywhere: Lecce, Plzen, Rome, Udine, Turin, Barcelona, Porto. He arrives shattered, full of lactic acid, rain and wind in his face, but with his heart full, after many, many kilometres. "I always leave from Mantova and head to Inter's next game." Affiliated with Inter Club of Sant'Ilario d'Enza, he set off from Mantova on 28 February, travelling across Northern Italy, down through the Pyrenees, following the famous Walk of Santiago ("hopefully a spiritual leg") and down towards Porto. "It's a passion that combines with another passion, taking the name of Inter around the world."
The build-up is draining but it gets drained away by the songs and singing in the streets. Different Italian dialects and songs ring around the Ribeira. It's like being in the tower of an Italian Babel, where everyone understands the Nerazzurri language. The sun is beaming down strongly, the streets are to be crossed towards the ground. The tide moves away from the centre and heads to the stadio do Dragão, filling the stairs, and slowly the away sector, full of the Nerazzurri colours.
How do you measure the emotion? Is it weighed, is there a measuring tape? It's difficult to establish, especially when voices and friends come together in the stands. Scarves in their hands, held tightly in the fist as if it were an anti-stress exercise. The banners with the names of the cities pop up to show where the various Inter Clubs are, and come from, in Europe.
Porto vs. Inter is long: on the field and for the fans, who don't stop for one second to sing, and cheer on the lads. It is incessant; songs sung with love and passion, without interruption.
Father and son, long-lasting friends, and friends for the occasion: the connections are natural and form an unbreakable chain for 97 minutes, urging the Nerazzurri boys towards qualification.
And that hour after the final whistle in the away stand is none other than the end of an unbelievable day, tiring yet special, like many others in the past with Inter. And while the stadio do Dragão empties, the Inter flags continue to be waved and the Inter Club banners re-appear for photos. All in the rhythm of a chant that encapsulates best the essence of being a fan who follows their team everywhere: "E per la gente che, ama soltanto te, con tutti i chilometri che ho fatto per te, Internazionale devi vincere!".