MILAN – With the backdrop of the Area Pergolesi in Milan, the ceremony took place for the awarding of the Cartellino Viola 2013, which saw Javier Zanetti receive the 2013 Special Fair Play Award.
Fiorentina, Mazda Italia and the jury of the Cartellino Viola (consisting of Fiorentina’s club manager Vincenzo Guerin as well as 12 other judges of directors, vice directors, and journalists from some of the most important newspapers and TV stations in Italy) decided to award a special recognition for the career of the Nerazzurri captain for a footballing career that has shown on the pitch, match after match, his ability to put into action the values that the Cartellino Viola has been aiming to promote and spread since its inception in 2011. At the event were Maurizio Beretta and Marco Brunelli, president and general director of the Lega Serie A respectively, and Francesco Ghirelli, general director of the Lega Pro.
This award was presented to Javier Zanetti for his ability to interpret the values of fairness and respect for the rules and make them his trademark.
From the stage, the visibly moved captain stated: "First of all, I’d like to thank Fiorentina and all the jurors who have given me this award. It’s very important for me because I believe that, beyond the victories I earned, I’ve always based my career on these things: loyalty and respect. They’re what my parents taught me as a youngster and things I brought with me when I came to your country, Italy, which was a completely new experience for me. I had the possibility to come here at 19 years old. Honestly, it was a chance I took advantage of with a lot of apprehension because I didn’t know if I was ready for such a big step. To have spent nearly 20 years here in Italy is something very important to me, in a league that I hold to be one of the best and most difficult in the world. It’s something that will make me proud for the rest of my life, because Inter have given me so much over these years, and Italian football will always be a part of my life."
Is there a particular moment in Zanetti’s life in which he might have done things differently? "I believe that in any given moment you do what you feel is right, and sometimes you make mistakes. The important thing is that you recognise having made a mistake and apologise for it."
Zanetti’s persistence and dedication have not faded with age, and they’re what make him a role model for youngsters. The captain also spoke about his future:
"To be honest, my first objective was to get back to a point in which I could feel useful to the team and return after a bad injury. Right now the most important thing isn’t my future, but rather that of the team. We have to think about finishing the season in the best way we can and, as president Thohir stated, qualifying for Europe. Then later there will be time to take stock of things, while always taking into consideration what’s best for Inter. I’m always available to this team and, I repeat, my bonds with Inter will always go beyond any contract.
"I believe that at the end of the season we can calmly examine what’s best for Inter, because I also have a great relationship with the new president and things are very clear. I’m always available for this team and I hope I can continue to be useful. Mourinho said he wants me? This is a rumour I immediately denied. I have a great rapport with José. He knows me very well and knows what Inter mean to me, and I believe his response was very clear."
Sporting director Piero Ausilio was also on hand to speak about Zanetti’s extraordinary career: "My story at Inter is similar to his, regarding time spent here. One of the best things is how he sets an example every day of the week. At forty years of age he still shows up on the pitch two hours early, and after training ends he stays for another hour. I believe it’s something truly exceptional."