“He is Giuseppe Meazza, he’s come through the youth ranks and today he will play from the start”. The exact words are unknown but this is the gist of what then-coach Árpád Weisz said to a shocked dressing room at the time. It was September 1927 and Inter were just about to be forced to change their name to Ambrosiana, with one of the starters that day ironically saying: “Do we now also have to play the balilla as well?”
However, this young lad was not like anyone else, something which his teammates soon realised. As a 17-year-old he scored a hat-trick on his debut, before then going on to secure a starting spot after a number of matches and then become capocannoniere just a couple of seasons later. Everything that followed firmly granted him legend status. Meazza was the greatest player of his generation in Italy and most probably also across the world. During his time with the Nerazzurri he secured three league titles and also helped the National Team become World Champions on two separate occasions. The fans would say that ‘Peppìn’ seemed to have the ball attached to his feet with string, while the press of that era celebrated his ability to the full. His skills sang out on the field. His dribbling was a work of art, while his efforts on target were much more like thunderbolts. As only happens with great players, Meazza also earned his own goalscoring trademark.
The ‘gol a invito’ where one skips past the goalkeeper and places the ball effortlessly into an empty net. He was good enough to make his mark also on the mass cultural market, as he became the peninsula’s first footballing icon. Commercials, lyrics in songs, he had the lifestyle of a true star. This also consisted of cigarettes, nights at the casino, expensive cars and beautiful women (legends goes that the night before a match he would often sleep in a very particular hotel…), however this did not stop him from dominating out on the pitch for the entire period before the war. With 284 goals, he is Inter’s highest ever goalscorer and his name now deservedly adorns the Stadio San Siro. A description of his career was previously and perfectly provided by Giuseppe Prisco: “One like him is born once every hundred years.”