In our countdown of the Top 20 Inter players in the last 20 years, we recognise the greatest ever captain Javier Zanetti in 1st spot.
Zanetti has made the most appearances in Inter’s history with a total of 858 matches in all competitions. The career of Zanetti spanned 19 years winning 16 trophies in total. Incredibly, 15 of those trophies came with Zanetti as Inter captain.
Let’s look a bit further at Zanetti’s Inter career.
The beginning –
Inter signed Javier Zanetti back in 1995, and this was Massimo Moratti’s first Inter signing since becoming club owner. What a special signing! It’s crazy to think that maybe Moratti could’ve known how legendary Zanetti would become.
Zanetti started out his career where he would end it, in the midfield. During his first season, the young 22 year old had a successful start featuring in nearly every Serie A match.
Unfortunately Inter finished 7th that season, so it wasn’t the best start from a club point of view. On an individual level, Zanetti was very successful as he won Pirata d’Oro (Inter Player of the Year) in 1996.
The consistency, leadership and professionalism led Zanetti to be respected both on and off the field. Players loved to play with Zanetti, and he was handed the captain’s armband late in 1999 as Ronaldo got injured.
Since Ronaldo would go to miss almost two years, Zanetti consistently captained Inter. However, it wasn’t until late 2001 when Zanetti was officially announced as Inter’s future captain. Zanetti still holds the record for the most appearances as a captain in the Champions League.
The legacy –
Javier Zanetti became the first living player in Inter’s history to have his beloved number retired. In 2015, a year after Zanetti’s retirement the famous number 4 was retired.
It was well deserved as Zanetti captained Inter in their treble winning campaign. As we know, Inter is the only Italian team in history to win the treble consisting of the Champions League, Italian Cup and Scudetto.
After becoming one of the greatest players in Inter’s history, he took up the role of Vice President two months after his retirement.
Even since becoming Vice President, Zanetti is still a major influence in the transfer window. We’ve seen Zanetti be the voice of reason in signing players. Especially Argentine players which was seen through signing Lautaro and Correa.
Red card –
It took Zanetti 561 games to get red carded in a Serie A match. Unfortunately it wasn’t a straight red, as two yellow cards were received to be sent off. A foul on Di Natale in the box gave him a second yellow, as Inter lost 1-0 to Udinese.
Considering that Zanetti played a great portion of his career in defence, it’s a sensational record. Also, it’s not like he didn’t put his body on the line as he definitely did. Zanetti was a fantastic defender too, so it just shows how pinpoint he was with his tackling.
Another reason why Zanetti was the perfect captain since he never lost his head on the pitch. He always led with his actions and was a player who everyone looked to as a genuine role model.
He is truly the greatest player I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. We may never see another Javier Zanetti, as it takes a special player to stay at a single club for 19 seasons. Inter was Zanetti’s first and last team in European which is phenomenal.
Thank you for supporting us as we counted down our 20 to 1. I’ve had fun and I hope you’ve enjoyed the articles. Until next time, we’ll see you soon!
As always, Forza Inter.