Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti’s 18-year playing career with the Nerazzurri is officially over and the club have announced that no Inter player will ever wear Zanetti’s No. 4 shirt again.
“The advisory board have decided to withdraw the No. 4 shirt,” Inter president Erick Thohir confirmed to reporters in Milan. “Zanetti is now going to be our vice president for the next two years.”
While technically not a one club player, Zanetti arrived at Inter in 1995 after short stints with Talleres and Banfield, he will always be considered one of the all-time great’s not only for Inter, but Serie A’s also.
Zanetti holds the record for the most appearances by a non-Italian player in Serie A and his 850 plus matches for Inter is a record that will never be broken.
But it was not just his longevity that made Zanetti a special player. More importantly he was a winner. Consider that at Inter, Zanetti won 16 trophies, 15 of them as captain. His trophy cabinet includes:
- Five Serie A titles
- Four Coppa Italia Cups
- Four Supercoppa Italiana trophies
- One Champions League
- One Uefa Cup
- One FIFA Club World Cup
On top of those domestic honors, Zanetti represented Argentina in the Olympics (1996) and two World Cups (1998 and 2002). In addition to his Inter honors, Zanetto picked up silver medals at the Copa America (twice), Confederations Cup (twice) and Olympic games (once).
Never flashy, Zanetti just went about his game the right way. He never got involved in the dark arts of Mourinho’s treble winning side, but that is not to say that Zanetti shrank away from physical contact. When a hard challenge or stop was needed, the Inter captain was more than capable able of doing that. But his game was so much more than it. You don’t play at the highest level at age 40 without a great understanding of how the game is played. As he inevitable slowed down as he got older, that knowledge helped Zanetti maintain his place in the side because he was able to see where the danger was, often before it happened, able to move himself into the right position to break up a pass or start an Inter attack.