There was a match to be won at San Siro on 12th May 1965 and a semi-final to be turned around. Liverpool had won 3-1 in the away leg and Helenio Herrera’s Inter needed to pull off a real feat to make the final. In the eighth minute, a free kick was awarded to the hosts on the edge of the area. The left winger was there to take it and his shot was a sweet and ruthless strike. It flew over the wall and left the opposition goalkeeper with no chance and the goal paved the way for the most historic of Nerazzurri comebacks.
The ‘Foglia morta’ free kick (‘Dead leaf’ literally, meaning knuckleball) was the trademark of Mario Corso. He was the favourite player of President Angelo Moratti and his wife ‘Lady’ Erminia and their fourth son Massimo who fell in love with whimsical left-footers. Corso’s left was no ordinary foot. After a match between Italy and Israel in 1961, the opposition coach labelled it the “left foot of God”. Patience would be needed as he was the definition of an erratic genius, he was a number 10 who dressed up as an 11 and he was a mixed blessing for every coach. Each year, the ‘Wizard’ Herrera would ask for him to be sold at the end of the season and he’d always find him there on time at the training camp ahead of the next. In that team, Corso, had the luxury of only playing with one foot (“Better that than two second rate ones,” he loved to repeat). He also wore his socks low without shinpads as an homage to his idol Omar Sivori.
His sharp left foot brought joy, enthusiasm and triumphs to the Nerazzurri fans. It did so in Madrid during the playoff for the 1964 Intercontinental Cup. It remained goalless until six minutes had passed in the second half of extra time when Corso struck past Independiente with a powerful and accurate left-foot strike. Or, as happened in the second derby of 1971 when he helped get revenge over Milan and deliver the eleventh Scudetto. Again on that occasion it was a free kick from the edge of the box. Everyone was expecting the trademark knuckleball but instead Mario went with a shot to the goalkeeper’s side which went in past Cudicini’s shoulders. For certain moments of magic, one foot is enough.