Originally published in la Gazzetta dello Sport
Every week Football Italiano brings you a translation of one of la Gazzetta dello Sport’s interviews with a major name from the world of Italian football. This time it is the turn of Inter’s Argentine legend Javier Zanetti…
Javier Zanetti, Inter lead by a healthy margin – is it already decisive?
“It’s too early to say, but the warning we’ve given is strong. Now the competition know that against us it’s not going to be a walkover”.
José Mourinho is talking about a three-team title race, with Roma as a loose cannon.
“I agree. Milan and Juventus are still very dangerous, I particularly distrust the Rossoneri “crisis”. I’m sure of what their reaction will be”.
What about Roma?
“They are a team that technically matches up with the best clubs; sure they’ve had a slow start, plus the gap is no small margin, but with Francesco Totti fully recovered, we’ll soon see the Giallorossi again in the Champions League. This is a very tough championship, there are potential slip-ups on every pitch and the quality of the so-called second-rate teams has increased a lot. In short, there’s room for them to climb back up”.
Critics have said that Milan’s overtaking on the 9th week reawakened Inter’s hunger, as you had been rather sleepy till then.
“No one ever stopped battling here, though it’s true that after Milan’s overtaking we said to ourselves: ‘hey, this thing mustn’t last…’. The truth is that with certain teams it’s better to react straightaway, otherwise you get into trouble”.
Is Mourinho’s Inter finally born?
“This is already a good Inter, but in my opinion we’re still far from our best version. We’ve got very big potential”.
Balotelli’s case: talk as captain.
“Mario has extraordinary technical and physical skills, he’s a potential champion and it’d be wrong to waste such a graceful player. He needs to understand that Mourinho’s words are full of affection and are not intended to upset him. The coach has only one aim: to improve him and bring out the best in him, because this is also in the interest of the team and the club. It is only with hard work that you can stand out in football these days and at 18 you can’t afford the established-player attitude yet. Certainly, here at Inter we’re not short of good examples to follow”.
The one that hasn’t had any problems so far is Muntari.
“It’s like he’s been here forever. It took him one moment to understand what Inter is”.
And what is Inter?
“It’s a very prestigious club, classy on and off the pitch, a club that is part of the history of football worldwide. When you wear this shirt, you’ve got serious responsibilities”.
What is your friend Crespo going to do in January?
“I honestly hope that he stays. We would be gaining from a technical and a human point of view, because apart from being a great champion and a deadly striker, he’s a very good person”.
Are you aware that if you win the Scudetto you’ll match Milan with their 17 Scudetti?
“Are you kidding? Of course we’re aware, we talk about it also among us. Four or five years ago it seemed to be an unreachable goal and now instead it’s not that far… We really want to make Inter’s history, that’s why I’m telling you that there’s still a lot of hunger at Appiano”.
Do you have a dream for when you stop playing?
“To enter the Nerazzurri supporters’ heart, like Giacinto Facchetti did – he was a reference point for me, a man who I miss very much and who was able to give me a great deal, also from the human point of view”.
And it’s not a small amount, those who think that the ‘bionic man’ from Buenos Aires will one day be able to trace also the managerial career of the great Giacinto.