Saturday 31 May 2014

Sport & People: Tribute to Javier Zanetti -- Il Capitano Sempre!!!

Javier Zanetti, the heart of Inter Milan

"Il Capitano" -- The Captain in Italian, a term given to nobody else but him, Javier Zanetti, the legendary captain of Inter Milan.

19 photos, 19 years
Image from FC Internazionale Milano's Facebook Page
He played 857 games in the Inter shirt for 19 years between 1995 and 2014, with 1 haircut and the same face for 38 years, let alone the miles "El Tractor" has run throughout his career. Talk about passion and loyalty?

He has only earned 1 red card in his entire career and it was not even a dangerous tackle! I say that because the opponent got up immediately. Talk about sportsmanship?

Here's what the ESPN Soccernet presenters say about him,

Here's what I say about him, he is the perfect role model of football, of a sportsman, of an athlete, of a man.

Paula Zanetti and Javier Zanetti, with eldest daughter Sol, elder son Ignacio and little Tomas
Image from Getty

A great man who live a simple life, who met his wife at 19 when she was 14, owns a restaurant called "El Gaucho" in Milan in the Navigli district and has 3 kids (1 girl and 2 boys).

Javier Zanetti and Cristiano Ronaldo during a friendly match on 9 February 2011
Image and caption from Wikipedia
A philanthropist, who founded charity Fundaci├│n PUPI with his wife for the social integration of poor children in Argentina, and co-founded Leoni di Potrero with teammate Esteban Cambiasso to help coach young children with social isolation problems and motor coordination difficulties.

A highly disciplined individual, trained his physical every day, including holidays and even on his wedding day.

Farewell to the Captain
Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

I remembered the first day I watched Inter Milan played, I was instantly captured by Zanetti's charisma. No matter how many times he was pushed, fouled, tackled, he never waited for the referee's whistle to help; he stumbled, yet he had the ball, he fell then he bounced right up and he still had the ball; he ran and ran and ran, dribbling past 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 players and the ball was still glued to his legs.

He is not a striker, so he did not dribble with fancy footwork; he was fast, but not the fastest, yet the opponent simply could not tackle away the ball from him. They saw that ball which was not moving too quickly, but they simply could not touch it, because he protected the ball so well with his great physique, he just seemed to know where the opponents are coming from.

Zanetti VS Giggs
Image from Google
He is the most versatile footballer of the history of Inter Milan if not of football, he could play as left and right fullback, wingback and winger, as defensive midfield and box-to-box midfielder, and even as central defender when duty called. In other words, he owned 2/3 of the positions on the field.

Former president Massimo Moratti described then the 40-year-old captain as such,

Zanetti the Superman
Image from Google
"I discovered that he comes from the planet Krypton and 
that he will still play for another four or five years!

He is a real-life Superman!! (And you don't call yourself a Superman until you still can outrun the youngsters in a top-flight football league at the age of 40)

Inter Milan Squad photo 98/99
Image from

There were in fact many international team captains in Inter Milan, such as Ronaldo of Brazil, Baggio of Italy, Ivan Zamorano of Chile, Youri Djorkaeff of France, Alvaro Recoba of Uruguay and Nwankwo Kanu of Nigeria, even the current Atl├ętico Madrid coach Diego Simeone was Zanetti's teammate, but only Javier Zanetti gained the longest captaincy of Inter Milan.

He is truly amazing and unique!

Like all devoted footballers who fight for glory of the club till the end, he dislikes being substituted. Roy Hodgson, the current England manager, was imbecilic enough to do such most disrespectful to the untouchable Il Capitano in UEFA Cup Final 1997, resulting in a lost in team spirit and subsequently in the penalty shootout even with 1-0 aggregate on hand. The fans were furious as they threw coins and lighters at Hodgson, whom eventually left Inter the very same year.

Captain Javier Zanetti’s letter to Inter and Argentina fans, sports fans
around the world, and his team-mates over the course of his long career
Caption and Image from Inter  Milan official website
English translation of the letter above
Caption and Image from Inter  Milan official website

Though Javier Zanetti bid the fans goodbye, he will continue to contribute as an Inter director, and as my Italian student Gianluca Oggionni reminded me on Facebook,

Image from Locky's English Playground
the captain still runs a restaurant and there are still chances for the fans to get to meet him.

Image from Locky's English Playground
Having taken his advice, I went to the Inter Online Store and bought myself the first Inter jersey ever with the captain's name, number and badges. What's missing are his signature and a photo/video with him. One day I will pay him a visit. Until then, I will train hard and practise my football! Thank you so much for all your teaching!


A final note, if you ask me, it is entirely stupid for Inter to put the retirement of the number 4 shirt in discussion, they should have announced the retirement of number 4 right on the day the captain played his last match! I mean, how often do you get someone as great as Il Capitano in the history of a football club or in the history of football? Don't be greedy with a number, Inter!

Though as an Inter Milan fan, it seems too logical for Nagatomo to be the next captain, but only Zanetti knows best, if he said Ranocchia can succeed him, then Ranocchia it is. Let's just hope that he is not leaving for arch enemy Juventus first.

Last but not least, the best article on Javier Zanetti goes to Paolo Bandini from The Guardian. It is definitely a must-read.

physique -- (n) the shape and size of a human body
imbecilic -- (adj) a person who behaves in a stupid way
charisma -- (n)[U] a special power which some people have naturally which makes them able to influence other people and attract their attention and admiration

Sports & Opinions: Nagatomo Should Be Made Inter Milan's Captain! @ Locky's English Playground

Not a hair out of place as Internazionale's Javier Zanetti hangs up his boots | Paolo Bandini | Football @

The very best pictures and Inter's farewell video from Javier Zanetti's final match at the San Siro @ Yahoo! Sports

ESPN FC: Javier Zanetti to retire @ ESPN FC

THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOVE! @ F.C. Internazionale Milano - Official Website

ZANETTI: "A NIGHT I'LL CARRY INSIDE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE" @ F.C. Internazionale Milano - Official Website


Javier Zanetti @ Wikipedia

Andrea Ranocchia should be new Inter captain, says Javier Zanetti @


Does Roy Hodgson Have The Credentials? @ The Tomkins Times | News, Opinion, Statistics and Discussion about Liverpool FC Football Club

Inter Online Store

RESPECT!! Goodbye Javier Zanetti - Final Moments For Inter Milan [10/05/2014] @ YouTube

Javier Zanetti gets only red card ever @ YouTube


Zanetti s'infuria contro Hodgson @ YouTube

Javier Zanetti || "ElCapitano" || Skills @ YouTube

Javier Zanetti || The Legend @ YouTube

Inter Song-Pazza Inter Amala @ YouTube