After 19 years with the same club, 40-year-old Inter captain Javier Zanetti played his final match the San Siro. Though the last season of his 22-year career won't conclude until next week at Chievo Verona, Inter honored his many brilliant achievements after their final home match against Lazio, which they won 4-1.
Zanetti did not start — prompting angry whistles for Inter manager Walter Mazzarri before the match — but when Rodrigo Palacio and Mauro Icardi scored their goals, they both celebrated by running over to the bench and hugging Zanetti.
Zanetti finally entered the match in the 52nd minute. Once the final whistle blew, Zanetti, who will now become a director for the club, struggled to hold back the tears before being joined on the pitch by his family.
From Inter's official website:
"I really struggled to hold back the tears, I'm crying on the inside. It's an amazing, unforgettable evening," Javier Zanetti explained to journalists after Inter v Lazio.
"Lots and lots of images passed through my mind tonight. I thank the fans and the Moratti family for the career I've been able to have and all the love they've given me. I could see what sort of atmosphere there was even before the game - incredible. I've always been proud to defend these colours."
Here's the tribute video that the club put together for him...
It's difficult to imagine Inter without Zanetti as captain — not only because he's been with the club for so long but because he still looks exactly the same as the day he signed way back in 1995. Few players these days enjoy the universal respect that Zanetti does. The word "class" is criminally overused these days, but there is no modern footballer who embodies it more than Zanetti. His presence and example as a player will be greatly missed.
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