On matchday one of the 1997/98 campaign, few people knew who Álvaro Recoba was at the start of Inter vs. Brescia. It was Ronaldo’s debut and the young Uruguayan with Asian features seemed almost like an intruder when he came on in the 20th minute. However, his appearance certainly stole the show on a day that was initially hyped for the club’s new Brazilian star. Scoring two goals from outside the area and duly helping turn the game around, El Chino sent the Nerazzurri fans into ecstasy and instantly emerged as a new Inter hero. He would only score one more goal that season, however, it came in crazy fashion. Picking up possession just past the half-way line, he decided to try his luck from long range, successfully lobbing the goalkeeper. That goal was Alvaro in a nutshell, full of genius yet unpredictable, focused primarily on creating moments of magic.
During his time at the club, he spent spells on the bench and occasionally struggled to fully grasp tactics, however, his contributions were still of the highest order. When he chose to turn it on, Recoba could light up any game. Sumptuous lobs, immense long-range efforts, top-class dribbling… he could do it all. All of this came with his left-foot, something which has been a distinctive characteristic of many great players. Notably, El Chino was president Massimo Moratti’s favourite player, who simply loved his ability to come on and quickly change a game. “Lazy and romantic” was how his wife, Lorena Perrone, described him, with the Nerazzurri No.20 only opting to show glimpses of magic on certain occasions. Perhaps the most emblematic aspect of his character was that his favourite hobby was fishing. He spent hours and even days alone with his thoughts, just enjoying time on his boat and catching fish.
One of his many unforgettable goals came on January 9th 2005 during an epic comeback against Sampdoria. The Uruguayan came on 13 minutes from the end and subsequently smashed a fierce left-footed strike into the bottom corner. Ten years after his arrival, Álvaro Recoba bid farewell to the San Siro faithful. While they may have misunderstood him at times, they still loved him dearly – which can often be the case with passionate relationships. He liked to do things his way, as was probably perfectly summarised by his ‘Olympic’ goal straight from a corner and consequently what turned out to be his last of his many great feats for Inter. As was the case on the day of his first appearance, El Chino shown what amazing things he could produce with his left foot. However, amongst the happiness there was also sadness, as fans often wondered what more could he have achieved.