To score against Juventus has always had a special meaning for those who wear the Inter shirt, above all if you’re a centre-back by trade and you’ve scored five goals in two years at Inter. On the evening of 12th February 2004, Daniele Adani transformed himself into an unstoppable centre-forward. Inter were losing 2-1 at San Siro against the Bianconeri in the second leg of a Coppa Italia semi-final and needed a goal to take it to extra-time. During the last desperate assault on goal, the goalkeeper saved an Emre header and ‘Lele’ was there at the right moment to turn home the rebound from close range.
While the stadium exploded with joy, Adani displayed a shirt with the message “Come back Francesco.” It was an appeal dedicated to a 15-year-old from the province of Brescia who had gone missing five days earlier. Francesco was an Inter fan and in those days, his father asked for help from the Nerazzurri players, hoping that calls from his sporting heroes would bring him home. Adani, who’d previously spent five seasons with Brescia, took this cause to heart and dedicated the goal to the boy, giving the campaign maximum visibility as Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri did off the pitch.
In the end, Inter went out on penalties but the more important victory came two days later. Francesco was found at a station in Genoa with a Nerazzurri scarf around his neck, a bit cold and hungry but otherwise safe and sound. “I understood that I’d made a mistake when I saw my parents’ appeal on TV,” he said. “When everything is sorted out, we’ll be waiting to see him,” responded Lele from a distance. His goal that evening was worth much more than a final.