For Inter, he made 234 appearances in the league and he didn’t miss a game in four years. In the first derby without Pagliuca, Inter lost to Milan in the final second of the game. In the meantime, the ‘Gatto di Casalecchio’ [Cat from Casalecchio] moved to Bologna where he continued to play at a high level until he finished his Serie A career with Ascoli at the age of 40.
The non-award of a penalty for a Iuliano foul on Ronaldo in 1998 expunged all hope of Pagliuca winning the Scudetto in an Inter shirt. Pagliuca was captain that day and saved a Del Piero penalty and protested to the referee Ceccarini but it didn’t help. 15 years later, when he was asked to describe that bitter episode, he replied saying: “If I think about that match I feel immense sadness.” He consoled himself with the 1997-98 UEFA Cup triumph which was his only triumph in a Nerazzurri shirt. His saves in that cup run made a difference in the quarter-final against Schalke 04, Spartak Moscow in the semi-final and Lazio in the final.
He didn’t know it then but the save from Weah in the final moment of a 2-2 draw between Inter and Milan in March 1999 would be his last one in a derby. The same save allowed him to break a record as Inter never lost to their city rivals with him in goal. In five years at Inter, Gianluca Pagliuca performed repeated miracles and in derbies he even saved the impossible. At the end of the 1998-99 season, he and Inter went their separate ways. It was the end of a love that had lasted five years, perhaps with less success than he deserved.