It’s the 11th September 2004 and there is clear anticipation ahead of Inter’s first game of the season against Chievo at the Bentegodi in Verona. The summer has seen the appointment of a new coach in Roberto Mancini, along with a number of big-name signings such as Sinisa Mihajlovic, Juan Sebastián Verón and Edgar Davids. The game also sees the subtle Serie A debut of a young Argentinian midfielder, whose arrival had been barely noticeable. The player’s name was Esteban Cambiasso, however back home he was known as ‘El Cuchu’, named after a cartoon character who was also skinny and blonde. Ten years later, Cambiasso would play his final game for the Nerazzurri in the very same stadium, boasting an Inter career that was stock full of many winners’ medals and triumphant tales to tell.
Following his arrival at the club, Cambiasso quickly secured himself a spot in the starting XI and never let go of it. Coaches and players came and went, however he continuously stuck it out in the middle, fighting for every ball. With an unmatched tactical intelligence, South American courage and also great ball-playing skills, he was absolutely pivotal within Inter’s midfield for a decade. Due to his charisma and leadership skills, he was named as the de facto captain and coach out on the pitch. As years passed by, ‘Cuchu’ became a key member of the team that dominated in the league and eventually went on to reach the summit of both European and World football. He was present for all the Nerazzurri’s success, forever dictating and controlling play within the team’s midfield. It is also worth noting his eye for goal, at times scoring in crucial moments. An example being that of his goal against Chelsea in the 2010 Champions League last 16.
When lifting the cup on that famous night in Madrid, Cambiasso was not wearing his usual No.19 but instead a historic number with strong Nerazzurri connotations. It was the No.3, once worn by Giacinto Facchetti and had been retired by the club. It was his way of celebrating this success, while also paying homage to the club’s history; once again reinforcing ‘Cuchu’s’ strong Inter links. There is now also a legends spot reserved just for him.