In a wonderful 19 year career Giuseppe Bergomi remained loyal to Inter Milan. Born and raised in the city of Milan, the immaculate defender would become a symbol of Italian football throughout the eighties and nineties. If there has ever been a finer exponent of the art of defending in the history of the game, then this writer is yet to see them. Bergomi was simply outstanding, a true icon of the game whose legend is etched into Calcio folklore.
Bergomi was one of those players that coaches would give anything to have in their team. Comfortable at centre-half or right-back he was the ultimate utility player. He earned the nickname “Lo Zio” (the uncle) due to the fact that he sported an impressive moustache even at the age of 18 as he burst onto the international scene during the triumphant 1982 World Cup campaign. A year earlier, Bergomi made his full league debut for Inter Milan and it was clear from the outset that this strapping six foot youngster was going to become one of the world’s greats. Like all great defenders, Bergomi had perfect grace and timing. He had that sixth sense and was always one step ahead of everyone else, being able to spot danger and extinguish it before any damage was done. National Coach Enzo Bearzot decided to take Bergomi to the 1982 finals in Spain, he could see the quality in the player and thought that the experience would be vital to his development. Against Brazil, in what was effectively a Quarter final tie, centre-half Fulvio Collovati was injured after 34 minutes and Bergomi got his big chance. He was magnificent, playing alongside Claudio Gentile it seemed as if he had been an international footballer for 10 years as he helped his country to a semi-final berth. As Gentile was suspended, Bergomi kept his place in the team but now was switched to right-back, again he was immaculate as the Azzurri swept into the final to play West Germany. Many wondered just how the youngster would react to such a big occasion, they need not have worried, in a performance that belied his tender years, Bergomi was outstanding, – “Lo Zio” was a world champion at just 18 years of age.
Inter circa 1980-1999
Bergomi – CB – CB – LB
RM – CM – CM – LM
ST – ST
The effortless way he glided around the pitch somehow disguised the fact that he was a mean competitor. He could roll up the sleeves and mix it with the best of them and his ability on the ball for such a big man was astonishing. He could set the play in motion and would occasionally chip in with an important goal or two. The early to mid eighties were not the most successful in the Nerazzurri’s history – Bergomi was playing in a mediocre team and he was the outstanding player as a string of managers tried to bring the glory days back to La Beneamata. It was a testament to his loyalty that as the captain, he never considered a move away from the San Siro. Finally in 1989, under the guidance of Giovanni Trappatoni, Bergomi got his hands on the Scudetto – no one in Calcio could deny him the glory his efforts had deserved. With Bergomi marshalling his back four, the Nerazzurri conceded just 19 goals over a 34 game season. An imposing presence on the field, many of the opposition players were in awe of him as they took one look at the opposition to see this giant of a defender standing in their way. Bergomi had the total trust of everyone around him, and as he gathered the ball out in his own penalty area you could sense the anticipation of the tifosi as another offensive sortie was launched into opposition territory. After his retirement in 1999, Bergomi worked as a pundit for Sky Italia but he always wanted a return to his beloved Inter. Currently he works within the club’s junior ranks, what a talisman for the stars of tomorrow to look up to as they start out on the road to superstardom. Bergomi was a one club man, the record appearance maker who for 19 years was the heartbeat of the Nerazzurri. His style of play won him admirers around the world and his quiet and unassuming nature was a credit to him, his club and his country. In an all time greatest 11, “Lo Zio” would be first on the teamsheet.
Name – Giuseppe Bergomi
Age – 45 (December 22, 1963)
Position – Defender
Clubs (Appearances/Goals) – Inter (758/23)
Club Honours – Serie A (1989) UEFA Cup (1991,1994,1998) Coppa Italia (1982) Supercoppa Italiana (1989)
Nationality – Italian
Caps/Goals – (81/6)
National Honours – FIFA World Cup (1982)
Past Lessons in Calcio
Alessandro Del Piero