At an age where Gigi Buffon was already making his mark in Serie A, he had yet to even touch a football, not even by mistake. The tale of Giuliano Sarti, one of the greatest goalkeepers to ever play for Inter, is one that could never happen now and one that comes from a different breed of football. For his entire adolescence, Giuliano never thought about football. He would cycle around the dusty streets of Emilia from the Second World War, selling artichokes and lemons for his father, who was a grocer. However, one Sunday he went to watch a local amateur match and one of the team’s goalkeepers suffered an injury.
He ended up in goal and consequently knew what to do. One year later he was signed for a team in the lower leagues and so began his inexplicable rise to the top. After two successive promotions with Centese, he then made an unimaginable move to Fiorentina, which duly opened the door to Serie A. He secured a starting spot for the Viola, winning one Scudetto and also helping his side reach the European Cup final, where they fell just short against Real Madrid. “I knew nothing about football, no one taught me how to play, how to makes saves or where to position myself,” he said years later. “I did everything on instinct.”
After nine seasons in Florence he was bought by Inter. Herrera wanted him to start in his Grande Inter side, featuring among a set of Nerazzurri stars who all went on to become legends, even having a nursery rhyme coined after them: “Sarti, Burgnich, Facchetti etc…”. He won more than any other goalkeeper had done in the history of Inter, including two Scudetti, two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. From the 17-year-old Sarti who sold artichokes at the market, to the Sarti whose name started the most famous nursery rhyme in Italian football.