MILAN – Unstoppable, just as he was on the pitch, enthusiastic and brilliant:
it was wonderful to watch Nicola Berti replying to fans’ tweets via
@Inter. Just like he used run on the pitch, Berti replied that, if it
were up to him, he’d keep going all night because “the fans have always meant everything to me, I need to be motivated and I’m able to pass that
on, it’s amazing to go to the stadium and still hear them singing
‘Nicola Berti, facci un gol’. I spent some wonderful years at Inter,
there’s nothing else in life like going out onto the pitch at the San
Siro and hearing the crowd. The adrenaline you feel is off the chart.”
best he’s played with? Ronaldo. The next derby hero? Mauro Icardi. A
model of integrity? Facchetti. Nerazzurri charm personified? Peppino
Prisco. His regret, not having played in Simoni’s Inter side who were denied the title, but who won the UEFA Cup. He reels off names and stories.
To him the derby was the big match, and he felt a greater rivalry with
AC Milan than with Juventus.
“Back then Juve weren’t a big deal
for us. Our real rivals were AC Milan, we shared a gym at the San Siro
where we’d warm up and I used to start giving them grief in there.
There was a real rivalry between us, we all felt it within us. You can’t
resist a dig at a Milanista can you? Do you remember the 3-1 win in
April 1995? It was fate, I had to score against the least likable
Milanista of them all, Sebastiano Rossi.”
He’s almost always at
the Meazza, and he tells us he followed the team throughout their
treble-winning campaign. As a normal fan he was there in Kiev, in Moscow
and, obviously, in Madrid. “I’ve got an image in my head of Massimo
(Moratti) who came back to the hotel by taxi, just like anyone else.
These things make you think.”
The fans ask him why they won’t
give us a penalty. “Because they make mistakes.” And he laughs, having
learned so much from playing football over the years. “How many Scudetti
have Juventus won? A lot fewer than they always claim.”
He sees Mazzarri and two new signings in the future for Inter, third place next season and then Inter winning again. He says he is – and will always be – there if the club needs him, and in the meantime he is swamped by hundreds of tweets. Some remind him of his goal against Bayern Munich, and he talks about his wild run around the Olympiastadion covered in snow, his desire to run to the Curva “it was like trying to go beyond the goal, to get to the meaning behind it.” Nerazzurri then. Nerazzurri now. Nerazzurri forever.