The gentleman stopper

Aristide Guarneri SCROLL TO READ STORIA N.19 / 110

Kalos kai agathos“, “Beautiful and good” was how heroes were described in Greek epic poetry. It was also perfectly apt for Aristide Guarneri who was Greek only by name thanks to his sculptor father who was in love with classical art. “An elegant bastion of the worldwide Inter team,” was how the press of the time described him as he formed an unbeatable partnership with Armando Picchi to secure trophies for the Nerazzurri in Italy and Europe.

In that defence made of steel with Tarcisio Burgnich and Giacinto Facchetti, Aristide didn’t need forceful methods to stop opposition forwards. His timing and reactions linked to a noble soul and his proper behaviour on the pitch saw him make over 300 Serie A appearances without ever being sent off as he earned the nickname of the “Gentleman stopper”. To think, Inter signed in 1958 from Como to play at full-back. Then, after a derby which finished badly, Cappelli wanted to switch to man marking and the captain Giovanni Invernizzi suggested Guarneri for the role.

I’ve always thought that you have to behave well in the game. I always looked to get there first and I knew that if my man got past me he’d find Picchi

Guarneri would not move again from the centre of the defence. Unbeatable in the air and unshakable in duels, he took on the best players of his era without fear. In two European Cup finals, he kept Puskás and Eusebio quiet and for Italy he made a winning debut against Pelé’s Brazil. With the Azzurri, he scored just the one goal but it was against the world’s greatest goalkeeper: Lev Yashin. For Aristide’s character, physique, ethics and for playing a key role in taking on legends of football, he goes down in Inter history.

Aristide Guarneri

Aristide Guarneri (Cremona, 7th March 1938) joined Inter from Como in 1958. He’d play in a Nerazzurri shirt until 1967, winning three titles, two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. After spells at Napoli and Bologna, he returned to Inter for the 1969-70 season. Overall, he made 301 Nerazzurri appearances and scored four goals. For Italy, he made 21 appearances and won the 1968 European Championship.