He continued to wear the iconic number one even as the second goalkeeper. He arrived in 2001 with the tough task of following the legacy of greats such as Bordon, Sarti, Vieri, Zenga, Pagliuca,
Peruzzi and Frey and it’s not easy for anyone to live up to that level. It was a tough challenge for Francesco Toldo but he had what was needed to do it. He spent eight years at Fiorentina at a very high level and experienced some incredible nights, both with the Viola and Italy. At Wembley, he was miraculous against Arsenal and incredible in Amsterdam for Italy, practically winning a European Championship semi-final on his own. He maintained his high standards with the Nerazzurri. The side went close to the Scudetto in his first year and reached a Champions League semi-final in the next. They got to the semi-final again thanks to the great Toldo. 27 shots weren’t enough at the Mestalla for Valencia to overcome a 1-0 deficit following the match at San Siro.
That evening, Toldo took control of everything and he continued to do so during his adventure with the Nerazzurri. He was one of the team’s vocal leaders, always alert in Hector Cuper’s side which followed the Nerazzurri Dna of tough defence and lethal counterattacks.
The arrival of Juilio Cesar in 2005 put him in competition with, and then behind the Brazilian who was eight years his junior. Toldo’s intelligence allowed him to accept the new situation and push the Brazilian on in training while remaining ready for whenever Mancini and then Mourinho gave him a chance. The final match of his career as a player was the sweetest imaginable, the final in Madrid when he decided to say enough after lifting the Champions League at 39. The end of his Inter career was the start of a new one as he was put at the helm of the Inter Forever project which coordinates former Nerazzurri players and organises matches between legends teams and sees players who made Inter history return to San Siro.
"Once an Interista, always and Interista," is the scheme’s slogan. A motto which fits Francesco Toldo like a glove.