MILAN – Count to thirteen. You can do it – it’s easy. But there’s one person in particular who’ll be doing that more than most this week. His name? Sandro Mazzola. Because it took him precisely 13 seconds to score against AC Milan in his first ever derby of 24 February 1963.
“That’s my most treasured memory from the derbies,” begins Mazzola. “When I scored, I just couldn’t believe it. I never used to make much fuss about celebrating my goals, but that time I did two pirouettes! I was euphoric – so much so that Luis Suarez ran over and said: ‘You’ve had your celebration, now get back and lend a hand!'”
The first #MilanInter of the 2014/15 season is fast approaching, and Mazzola will be watching events unfold intently: “Where will I watch the match? I’m not sure yet, I usually decide at the last minute. But I always try and watch it with my children and grandchildren.” A Nerazzurri dynasty, then! The heirs of a great legacy handed down goal after goal, derby after derby, victory after victory.
“The derby was always the most important match for us. I had a great example in Giuseppe Meazza – he simply would never give up. I remember that one time he gathered us all to eat together in a sort of training camp. At some point, he came in and delivered a speech in Milanese dialect: ‘You think I’ve gone crazy, but just remember something: I have a black stain on my career because I played for AC Milan for six months’. That really pumped us up, we couldn’t wait to get out on the pitch,” recalls Mazzola.
The feeling of playing in a derby – of being on the pitch in the middle of it all – is something that only those that have experienced it can truly explain: “Everybody in the city would get up early, then the fans would march from the Piazza del Duomo all the way to San Siro. There were flags and banners everywhere.”
And how did it feel to run out onto the pitch? “The real problem was the stairs! You had to go down out of the changing rooms, then go through the tunnel before you finally made it onto the pitch. Inside, however, you couldn’t hear anything. But when you began to climb the steps onto the pitch, you heard the roar of the crowd and your legs would start to tremble with excitement,” says Mazzola, smiling.
Seconds later, the match would be underway. And for legends like Sandro Mazzola, it might take just thirteen more to leave a mark. An instant. But the memories – the emotions of representing the Nerazzurri in the Milan derby – last forever.]]>