A plastic bag containing a pair of football boots, a passport and lots of dreams. Cavalese was the place, in the province of Trento where Inter were holding their pre-season camp in 1995. That was how Javier Adelmar Zanetti arrived. With a bag in his hands and a couple of journalists waiting for him, curious more than anything. It was 28th July and that was the day when the legend of Pupi began. Fixed shirt numbers were introduced to Italian football that year and almost by chance (Andrea Seno took the 3 and Francesco Dell’Anno the 5), it was the name of that Argentine that went above the number 4. The Curva Nord realised who he was straight away and chanted that “He dribbled like Pelè.” Nobody else would ever wear the number 4. The captain, as he’s still often known to fans four years since retirement, would go on to represent the best values of sport in the past 20 years like nobody else.
Zanetti in action
The moving farewell to football at San Siro against Chievo
Zanetti and Massimo Moratti
Celebrations for the Club World Cup in 2010
Zanetti raises his fourth Coppa Italia
The shirt number 4 is Zanetti's symbol: after his farewell it has been withdrawn
Exemplary, iconic, proper and respectful, he was there when opponents smiled and he was there as happy as a child when he started to lift trophies, something he’d never tire of. It was already written then in fate for this boy who arrived to the training camp in Cavalese as it would seem to Beppe Bergomi who passed on the baton of the Inter legacy. He’d remain and “have the ball stuck to his feet.” Avioncito Rambert was meant to be the main signing that window but instead there was a meteoric rise elsewhere and the world of Inter fans was soon given a reason to love him and they would never stop after that.
A story of extremely strong emotions, triumphant wins and stinging defeats, satisfaction and disappointments, 16 trophies won, embraces, tears, shouts, smiles and promises. One was the vow to always be connected to the Nerazzurri colours, like only those who truly knew how to write history.