Virgilio's war

Virgilio Fossati SCROLL TO READ STORIA N.36 / 110

The first. The first captain of Football Club Internazionale, the first Nerazzurri icon and the first midfielder for Italy during the Azzurri’s international debut. Taken away by the war in 1916. The archives state that Virgilio Fossati  was from Milan and the Porta Ticinese area, he joined Inter at a very young age and helped take the club to its first Scudetto in 1910. What he lacked in physique he made up for with his tactical sense, technical ability, but above all his courage that was beyond the ordinary. Accounts of the time stated that he was born to play football in that pioneering age as the game was still called football in Italy on account of its English roots. On 15th May 1910, he featured in Italy vs. France at the age of 19 which was the first Italy match ever and Fossati also captained the team.

He made 97 appearances for the Nerazzurri and scored four goals and was part of the team which won the first Scudetto in club history. At 24, Virgilio Fossati seemed set for an exemplary career but the Great War interrupted it. On 23rd May 1915, the FIGC suspended all of the country’s leagues following Italy’s entrance into the conflict after nine months of neutrality.

In the 20th minute, after interplay with Capello, Fossati arrived at the edge of the French area and let go a devilish shot which surprised the goalkeeper Tessier and left him literally frozen in place.

Poco più di un anno dopo, mentre guidava i suoi uomini oltre le linee nemiche, trovò la morte. Fu in seguito insignito della medaglia d’argento al Valore Militare, riconoscimento per quello che fu senza dubbio il primo eroe del calcio italiano. “Dormi sepolto in un campo di grano, non è la rosa non è il tulipano, che ti fan veglia dall’ombra dei fossi ma son mille papaveri rossi.” La poesia di Fabrizio De Andrè, universale denuncia contro ogni guerra, si adatta perfettamente a descrivere la storia di Virgilio, che come il Piero della canzone fu strappato al fiore dei suoi anni.

Virgilio Fossati

Virgilio Fossati (Milan, 3 January 1891 – Monfalcone, 29 June 1916). He moved to Inter in 1908. For the Nerazzurri he made 97 appearances and scored four goals. He won the league in the 1909-1910, two years after the club was founded. He covered the role of captain and coach on the pitch. He was the first Inter player to wear the Italy shirt, making twelve international appearances and scoring one goal. He died at the front in 1916 during the First World War.