In the game of football, class can prove to be an extraordinary passport, while goals are a universal language that can knock down walls and transcend national boundaries. This is the story of István Nyers, a player who was French by birth and had Hungarian roots. A striker who was stateless, yet still possessed world-class ability. The coach to discover this talent was almost as cosmopolitan as him, one whose name will be forever attached to the Nerazzurri colours: Helenio Herrera. In 1946, the ‘Wizard’ was in charge of Stade Français and and watching the striker in just one match for the Hungary National Team was enough to convince him.
However, Nyers first had to flee to Prague (on a military truck), where he consequently played in the Czechoslovakian league while waiting for Herrera to bring him to Paris, also deceiving the police in the process. István lost his Hungarian citizenship for fleeing the country and was officially stateless in a continent that was then torn apart by conflict. His name first became ‘Etienne’ in France and then ‘Stefano’ after joining Inter in 1948. However, his true identity was present most out on the pitch. Lightening acceleration and exquisite ability were both matched by fantastic shooting with both feet. He scored many goals, 133 in total. This tally was enough to earn him sixth place in the all-time Nerazzurri goalscoring charts. Milan were among his preferred victims, recording 11 goals against the Rossoneri. Only Giuseppe Meazza has scored more.
The derbies played by Nyers and the tales linked to them are stuff of legend. His final one came in 1953 and he won it all by himself. A hat-trick to grant forgiveness for his wayward contract requests, those that had previously led to his squad exclusion by President Masseroni. Four years prior to this, he scored a brace during another derby. One which inspired a 6-5 comeback after Inter were initially losing 4-1. In the stands that day was a four-and-a-half year old child named Massimo Moratti, on what was his first trip to the San Siro. That day the stateless player also scored for him.