Sat next to the World Cup and playing cards with President Pertini and Dino Zoff, this is the most famous image of Enzo Bearzot. If you think of ‘Vecio’, then the first thing that comes to mind is the 1982 World Cup.
However, few people know that Bearzot was also a great defender before he became a coach, making over 250 appearances in Serie A. In fact, it was Nerazzurri president Carlo Masseroni who introduced him to the top tier of Italian football. He joined Inter from Pro Gorizia in the summer of 1948, a team who were still playing in Serie B at the time. He made his debut in Serie A aged 21, although during three seasons with Inter, he failed to secure consistent playing time and eventually moved to Catania and then Torino.
However, Bearzot’s history with Inter wasn’t yet finished, as President Angelo Moratti brought him back to Milano in the summer of 1956. At 29-years-old, Bearzot was a more mature player and played the entire season as a starter, helping Inter finish fifth. He went on to join Torino at the end of the season, spending seven years there before retiring aged 37. Inter and ‘Il Vecio’ would not see their paths cross again, however, the success of the National Team was achieved thanks to the help of many Inter players. During the 1982 World Cup, Bearzot promoted an 18-year-old Bergomi to the first team, while Lele Oriali was also a key figure in the Azzurri XI. Spillo Altobelli on the other hand was not a starter, although one night in Madrid saw him come on after seven minutes and score the goal to put Italy 3-0 ahead. A goal which was perhaps the most beautiful from that historic final.