On March 21st 2002, Inter played one of the most incredible matches in their history, winning away against Valencia and progressing through to the UEFA Cup semi-finals thanks to a goal from Nicola Ventola. However, the symbolic image from that magic night was not a celebration, a goal or an embrace, but instead the fiery glance from Francisco Farinos, as he donned the enormous shirt of Francesco Toldo to defend the Nerazzurri goal all by himself.
It is an intriguing story of two parts, one being that Francisco Farinos did in fact grow up in the Valencia youth ranks. He was highly rated by Claudio Ranieri, as he went onto to win the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa de España, while he also helped Hector Cuper’s side reach the Paris Champions League final in 2000, eventually losing out to Real Madrid. From that moment on Farinos became an object of desire for many teams, with Inter eventually securing his signature for 36 billion lira.
His Nerazzurri adventure began in explosive fashion with a goal against Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana final, but his relationship with the Nerazzurri never really seemed to take off. However, it was precisely that night against Valencia that made Farinos an idol among Nerazzurri supporters, at least for one night anyway. Against his old team, the diminutive Spaniard took control of the situation after Toldo was sent off in the 89th minute, wearing this massive jersey and defending his team’s 1-0 lead to keep his team’s hopes of winning the UEFA Cup still firmly alive. They were six minutes of passion, of grit and more or less improvised saves. Scenes of celebration soon followed the six minutes that contributed to one of the most epic encounters in history.