“But how old are you?” asked Giampiero Marini, one of the elder statesmen at Inter asked. “17” came the repsonse. “Oh my, you look like my uncle with that moustache,” exclaimed Marini. The legend of Beppe Bergomi known to all as ‘Zio’or ‘Uncle’ started there with some changing room chate in the early 1980s. Bergomi seemed mature as a boy and he really was. At 16 he lost his father and the news came while he was with the Italy youth team. At 17 he made his debut in Serie A, quickly becoming a starter and at 18 he won the 1982 World Cup in Spain as a starter. By the time he came of age, he’d already had the life experiences and playing time of a veteran.
It was just the start of a legendary career. He spent 20 seasons with his only club Inter, making 756 appearances with 519 in Serie A. His honours list included a league title, one Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italiana and three UEFA Cups. The ‘Zio’ was a talisman and a historic Inter captain and he was able to last so long tank to his tenacity and tactical intelligence. Because, between the 1980s and 1990s football changed a lot. It switched from the man-marking in which Bergomi specialised to zonal marking which he adapted to with excellent results.
He had great physical characteristics and thanks to this he also played many seasons at full-back before moving back into the middle in the final years of his career. It wasn’t by chance that he was recalled by Cesare Maldini for Italy in 1998 to take part in his fourth World Cup after seven years away. His dream of finishing his career with success there then ended as the Azzurri went out to France on penalties.