Missing in action: Walter Zenga

MILAN – First Inter, then the world. It was the summer of 1994 when Uomo Ragno [Spider-Man] disappeared from the Nerazzurri picture after 473 appearances. He had won a lot: a Scudetto, two UEFA Cup trophies, and an Italian Super Cup. He still didn’t know it at that point – in fact, it was an embittered departure – but a whole new football world was about to open up before him. As a player, a brief Italian adventure followed, and then a stint in the USA. Next, as a coach, came Steaua Bucharest and Red Star Belgrade before he guided clubs in Turkey and the UAE. Then a return to Italy with Catania and Palermo before heading back to the Arab world. At 54 years old, Walter Zenga is a coach who knows no borders.

“I live in Dubai with my family. I have two kids: 4-year-old Samira and 2-year-old Walter Jr. My three oldest, Jacopo, Nicolò and Andrea, are grown up now and living in Italy.”

A life with Inter. But does one day in particular stand out?
“I was practically born in the curva, back in the days when it almost hung over the corner flag. There’s not one day in particular that stands out since every day with the Nerazzurri was a beautiful one. When I was a ball boy it always made such a huge impact on me to enter the San Siro! You need a lot of personality to play there. Now there’s a tunnel for when you come out on the pitch. But back when I played there was a small staircase to go up, and it’s not easy to describe what you felt in that moment.”

Now you’ve become a citizen of the world.
“I’ll be able to die a happy man though if I ever become the coach of Inter! I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved so far. But there’s still time and I’m still young.”

Any favourites for the World Cup?
“It’s a given if I name Italy. I like watching Belgium, Bosnia and Croatia since they’re interesting teams with great players. But if Italy don’t win then it doesn’t really matter, so let’s stick with Italy. And when it comes to the Uruguay match it’s the Azzurri or nothing!”