WUHAN – Inter Forever set off from Xi’an early this morning. The second city they are taking in on their #ChinaTour2014 is situated several thousand miles to the south, amidst the rice fields of Hubei province where the Yangtze and Han rivers meet. And when they arrived, central China’s most populous city duly afforded the Nerazzurri an incredible welcome.
Immediately after lunch, Javier Zanetti, Luis Figo, Youri Djorkaeff and Francesco Toldo spoke to the media. A throng of local journalists awaited them on the fourth floor of a centrally based skyscraper otherwise known as Wuhan Jin Jiang International Hotel.
The press conference began with the news that a crowd of at least 30,000 is expected at Wuhan Sports Centre for Sunday’s match. That’s how many tickets have been snapped up so far, but it’s quite possible the event will be a sellout. Anticipation is high and the city is licking its lips at the prospect of seeing some of the stars who have written Inter’s history.
Among those is Zanetti, who thanked the organisers for offering him the opportunity to experience first hand Chinese fans’ passion for the colours he spent almost an entire career wearing.
Djorkaeff reaffirmed the importance of projects like Inter Forever, which are good for the game and allow former players to become world ambassadors for the sport.
Figo then commented on Inter’s role in world football and the club’s tradition and prestige, both in the past and through to the present day.
Finally, Inter Forever ‘coach’ Francesco Toldo threw down the gauntlet to his opposite number, who was among those who crammed into the packed press room. With a smile, he told his Chinese counterpart: “We’re going to get serious on the 19th, not like in Xi’an [where Inter won 6-1].”
After the conference the lads were hosted on local network Wuhan TV – an informal chat with a few smiles and laughs, and another chance to discuss all things Inter.
So after what we could call a transition day, Inter Forever are into the second leg of their tour. Following Xi’an, it’s now Wuhan’s turn to savour them in all their glory.