Moratti: “Zanetti is Inter’s history”

MILAN – FC Internazionale honorary president Massimo Moratti covered a range of topics during an interview with Telelombardia.

On Javier Zanetti: "He’s Inter’s history. Not only because of his quality but also for his professionalism. If you ask Zanetti about a game against Milan or Juve from 10 years ago, he’ll tell you not only how it went but also why you should hate both of those teams [laughing]. He’s also a good person, a sensible person, with this side of his character that makes him very much respected by his team-mates.

"With me Zanetti knew for sure that he could even have become president. Because I might have thought about naming as president someone who knows everything, someone who represents Inter, who’s respected and who has the right image. And who could perhaps give interviews instead of me in the morning! There’s been a change for him now, there’s a new person who obviously couldn’t know him as well. But I think he’s sounded things out, also because Thohir is smart. Zanetti will stay at Inter and he’ll definitely have a position which, in my view, must be an operative role and not just a representative one. Because he’s the sort of person who knows how to manage situations, just as he’s managed his personal life well with the PUPI Foundation and other things that are very important. He’s managed his family life extremely well, his investments, his life at Inter. And I think he’ll definitely be an excellent director and that’s what they’ll get him to do."

On Alvaro Recoba: "He had something intrinsically Inter about him – the fact that he was always capable of surprising you. He was the sort of player that if you put him on in the last 10 minutes he was capable of scoring a hat-trick or producing something you’d never seen before on a football pitch. He was a little lazy so he perhaps lacked the consistency or determination that a player should have, but if you leave aside that lazy streak he was blessed with this class, this talent, that made him a real star in the eyes of anyone who loves the game. So you became fond of him. And the president, just like the fans, the day before the game would be thinking about what might happen. And I would imagine Recoba picking up the ball, taking everyone on and scoring with the first chance."

On José Mourinho: "He joined after Mancini’s outburst when he said to me, ‘You’re going to get rid of me.’ And I replied, ‘Are you mad? I’m certainly not thinking of getting rid of you.’ But he felt humiliated after that defeat to Liverpool. Thinking that Mancini might come out with the same thing again, I decided to contact Mourinho and he replied with absolute professionalism, because I told him that if Mancini didn’t change his mind then I’d turn to him. He could have got offended but instead he said he was available and that he wouldn’t have talks with anyone else. That confirmed how professional he is. I’d seen him once before and he’d given me an excellent impression. But Mancini was doing well and it wasn’t easy celebrating another Scudetto having to tell Mancini that we were going to bring someone else in. We managed to do it in the end but I was sorry about it.

"When Mourinho left, I must be honest, I thought it was right. He came in, won the league – which Mancini may have done too – then he did the Treble. Mourinho was this magnificent storm, a gust of wind that was supposed to take the path it did and not drag on. Afterwards we won the Coppa Italia and came second, and if Leonardo had joined earlier we might even have won the Scudetto.

"Bring Mourinho back? We have Mazzarri now, an excellent coach – different, with a different experience, but he’s an excellent coach. I think Mourinho is looking for personal satisfaction at Chelsea, the other club he has a special bond with. He was glad to go back there just as he’d be glad to come back to Inter. The time’s not right at the moment, hopefully it will be in the future after Mazzarri has won three titles like Mancini!

"Three pieces of advice? I can’t manage three, that’s too many. I can do one, and that’s to surround yourself with Interisti, and that doesn’t mean surround yourself with people who talk about Inter just for the sake of it, but people who understand and know what Inter and its fans are all about – and that’s its different to Juve and Milan.

"Inter is different. The nature of the club will undoubtedly change because a president affects that, but there are some characteristics that will never change, and they are the reason why you’re an Interista or you’re not an Interista. That’s why I talk about Zanetti, because it’s a good thing to have people in this club who know its history, who remember certain things, can help you to understand, help you to avoid problems. That’s why I say he needs people close to him who care about Inter and not just people who are good at their jobs. Inter are lucky enough to have lots of fans and among them lots of very top-level professionals who would like to lend a hand.

"Those games in the stands with Laporta? I suffered a lot. It’s terrible watching games together as they do in Spain. Either you’re hypocritical about it or you know that your celebrations will be rubbing salt into the other guy’s wounds. They want to introduce it in Italy? No, no. If the ref ruins the game, you can’t turn around and say, ‘Well done, you did well there’. Come off it…

"The Champions League was obviously an important success, it reminded me of some fantastic times. But sometimes a single game can give you more joy than other triumphs. And that game was the first derby after I became president. They went into it second in the table and we weren’t in great form – I took over Inter at a difficult time and we didn’t have a lot of points. But I was lucky in that the first few games, including the derby, went well for us. AC Milan weren’t just favourites, they were 100,000 times favourites. Weah missed what seemed impossible to miss and we played with such grit and determination that we won three-one, with a thrilling finale and Berti’s goal. That match sticks in my mind as one when we showed our pride and got one over on the other lot because they thought they were amazing. Before kick-off I bumped into Galliani and I said to him, ‘Go easy on us. Be nice to the new president.’ And their reply: ‘Yes, of course,’ convinced they were going to win, but then we pulled off a magnificent victory that made me really very happy. That may only be a small satisfaction compared to everything we won in those five years but it stuck in my memory.

"[Andrea] Seno was among the scorers in that derby, a wonderful person. Before the game [Ottavio] Bianchi called me telling me he couldn’t play and that the doctor had said the same thing. We told him not to play because it was risky. He put his foot down and insisted that he felt fine, and as it turned out he was the best player on the pitch, he scored and had a magnificent game. A real hero: he went out there knowing it was a risk. I’m full of admiration for what he did. Bianchi felt a particular dislike for Berlusconi and he said something to the players to fire them up… something I can’t repeat [laughing]. They took the field like a pride of lions. He was a character, a bit different but he knew how to charge his men up, especially for the derby.

"After that derby there’s Siena, when we won the treble. We were really made to suffer but that’s where we won the league – terrible suffering that then turned into immense joy. Madrid was a great final victory, but we didn’t suffer then. It was a celebration, a night when Mourinho proved what a great coach he is because there are certain games he never loses. The real suffering came in Siena because our opponents played as if their lives depended on it even though they were already relegated. And the Champions League was the crowning achievement. It’s a personal thing, sometimes from great suffering comes great joy."