Javier Zanetti has been awarded with the Giacinto Facchetti, Il Bello del Calcio award by the Gazzetta. The pink newspaper will give him the prize November 12 in Milan. The Argentine football player and his wife Paula founded Fundacion Pupi, a reality that helps children in need in Buenos Aires. He talked about it with Gianfelice Facchetti in an interview in Sport Week: “It was a desire we had for some time, me and Paula. When the Argentine economy collapsed in 2001, we realized that it was necessary to do something concrete. We saw extreme poverty right before our eyes and felt powerless. The thing that was most urgent to do was to give them an alternative to an endless everyday life. Through the Foundation, we have taken care of their sparetime: volleyball, basketball, music, swimming and football. In the beginning, there were 39 children and now there are more than a thousand. Who would have thought ten years ago? “
The Inter captain explains exactly what the Foundation is doing: “We go into the favelas and with the help of social workers, we try to follow up the cases with higher risks. Children with parents in prison for drugs, children who since the age of five have been forced to sell themselves.” Zanetti talks about how he met his wife, “We were young, she was 14 years old and I 19. She played basketball and I did my first year as a pro in Talleres. If she went with me to Milan right away? No, she remained in Argentina for three years to complete her studies. it was very much back and forth until 1999 when we got married. My childhood? My mother cleaned houses for other people and my dad was a bricklayer. They left home at six in the morning and saw each other again in the evening. My dad once asked me, ‘But do you really want to be a footballer? Go and try out then.’ They made me realize what sacrifices needed to be done in order to be able to eat. “
The memory Pupi like best: “When I could not buy football boots, she sewed a pair for me. Memories of my mother? When we won the Coppa Italia against Palermo she sent a message to my phone: ‘Congratulations my son, I’m happy for your sake, I love you. The party in Milan ended late so I thought I would call her the next day, but I never got the opportunity because she passed away in her sleep.” Then he talked about the beginning of his career: “At Independiente I was cut because I was too little, it was disappointing because it was the team in my heart. But my dad and my brother Sergio encouraged me so I continued. I came to Banfield and went straight to the first team, went up from the second division to the first. Then came the national team and Inter, the team of my life.”
The story of his transfer to Inter: “We played a big tournament in Mar del Plata, Suarez and Mazzola were there along with scouts from other teams. Passarella called me to the side: ‘It seems as if you have been bought by Inter.’ I could not believe it. I drove to San Siro and I remember how awesome it was from the outside. I could not imagine being at the center of the pitch. When it was time for the first game of the season and I came out from the metro station, I realized that My dream had come true.” You are one of the few that unites fans of all teams, is that something you’re proud of? “Yes, there is a lot of respect. It is great for when you retire from football, you are the same person.” The secret of his durability, “I practice a lot and try to keep the game tempo. My mentor? It is impossible not to think of your father (Giacinto Facchetti ed.) We talked often, he talked about his matches. I arrived at Appiano and saw him as a symbol, even during the years that were difficult for our colors. Receiving this award fills me with pride. Giacinto Thank you. “
There were also things that happened behind the scenes of the transfer market: “Real Madrid wanted me when Cuper came to Inter. He said to me, ‘It seems as if you want to leave.’ I spoke immediately with Moratti because I wanted to stay. I had thoughts that it would be difficult to win with Inter, but to leave was not for me. From then on, with the help of Cuper, we found our soul and laid the foundation for future success.” The greatest joy: “The victory in the Champions League. We had been chasing it for so long. Before the match I realized that I hardly was going to play any more matches like that. I remember that when the referee signaled two minutes of injury time, I cried already, I looked at Samuel and could not hold back the tears. The toughest loss? The semifinal of the Champions League against Milan. We were eliminated after two drawn games, I’ve never seen the San Siro like that, something incredible.”
The teammates he has the closest ties to “Zamorano and Cordoba, it is with them I created a more intense relationship. How it feels to see Ivan on the bench? He deserved to continue to be part of the Inter family. He is helpful and generous like few others, the right man in the right place. I am very happy for the role he has. Finally, he looks toward the future: “I do not see myself as a coach. I would like to be a leader who is close to the team to communicate the love of these colors that I still carry with me since my debut against Vicenza. On the crucial positions in a club, you should have people that represent its history, people who can convey the attachment to the shirt, “concludes the Argentine.