MILAN – 10 May 2014 is not just any old day, but the day Javier Zanetti walked out onto the San Siro turf for the last time as a player. Inter’s famous number 4, 19 seasons at 16 titles at Inter, the same number as his president Massimo Moratti, was the reason for the sell-out, except for the closed Curva. Yes, there was the small matter of Inter v Lazio. But even the club’s opponents were telling. Lazio were the opposition when he landed his first European trophy with the UEFA Cup in Paris. Lazio were his opponents last night. In between, the record breaker. The boy who became a man, or the man who stayed a boy, you decide. This is Javier Adelmar Zanetti at 40.
Master of ceremonies, an obvious role not just for his brace, but also because he’ll be suspended against Chievo, was Rodrigo Palacio, but everyone played their part in the Meazza crowd which called to mind the best derbies or the Champions League nights under Mourinho. Four was the magic number last night, with Inter scoring that many.
Mauro Icardi would score, the spotlight would often fall on Kovacic, and the end of the match would see Hernanes coming to the fore, with the Prophet not celebrating in front of players who were, until recently, his team-mates. With Europe becoming more tangible by the second, the real number 4 came on. Even had he not run, which he did, he would have received a full ovation just for breathing.
It’s hard not to simply list his achievements but there are ten good reasons why it’s worth doing so.
1 – Javier has grown old with us like no other captain in Nerazzurri history.
2 – He really has suffered and rejoiced with us and we really are lucky because a treble, with everyone that followed it, happens very rarely in football.
3 – Next is his remarkable ordinariness, shown in his wonderful family, and in that face that didn’t want to get emotional but couldn’t help it, just like us.
4 – He still has a remarkable engine at age 40 and money is not his motivation.
5 – When you represent a dream you have to be worthy of it.
6 – His haircut, which never changed over the years. A sign of consistency.
7 – Javier has never made headlines for the wrong reasons and people should learn from that.
8 – Empathy among humans is a powerful means of communication. And he, at the end of such a unique career, was like us. Happy and sad, emotional and strong.
9 – He called over Esteban Cambiasso, Walter Samuel and Diego Milito, giants from our history that, who knows, we may have waved goodbye to. But he didn’t forget Luca Castellazzi.
10 – He is Inter, the club’s style, made up of memories and the life he has led. A high-risk life, against the mediocrity in the world, which makes him an icon. Sorry if it’s too little, and sorry if it can only go hand in hand with Massimo Moratti’s.