MILAN – "I really struggled to hold back the tears, I’m crying on the inside. It’s an amazing, unforgettable evening," Javier Zanetti explained to journalists after Inter v Lazio.
"Lots and lots of images passed through my mind tonight. I thank the fans and the Moratti family for the career I’ve been able to have and all the love they’ve given me. I could see what sort of atmosphere there was even before the game – incredible. I’ve always been proud to defend these colours.
"I called Esteban [Cambiasso] over because it was right to salute someone like him who has given so much for this shirt, like all the others.
"It wasn’t easy to take this decision. I’ve given everything I had. I’m glad to be able to quit when I’m physically and mentally fit.
"How did it go? Great, I couldn’t have imagined it any better. It’s been a fantastic evening. My team-mates gave me this brilliant win which means we’re where we wanted to be, in the Europa League. We all cried. I cried on the outside, on the inside, quite honestly I couldn’t keep it in anymore. It’s a never-ending day, one that will never finish.
"I’ll tell the lads who pull on the Inter jersey in future that they have to honour it and defend it as I’ve had the privilege of doing. It’s important to have that sense of belonging and understand what it means to play for Inter and defend these colours across the world. That’s what they need to understand.
"I’ll miss lots of things: the dressing room, drinking mate with Samuel and Milito, the training camps. I’ll carry it all with me for the rest of my life."