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The King of Snake

May 9, 2011

... hands up if you don't own a bust of Il Duce ...

 “… When I look back to my childhood, many concrete scenes come to my mind, good ones and bad ones. I had a difficult childhood, and even though I don’t live in my country at present, I’m well aware of what’s going on there and the devastating effect it’s having on our poorest children. I’ve always believed that our public actions need to take account of our social responsibility …”

Javier Zanetti, 2001

Being the cynical old twat that I am, I have no footballing heroes these days. Any remaining vestige of such a romantic notion finally went west around this time five years ago when Brian Labone died and Duncan Ferguson retired within the space of a week. But in an age where beauts like Jermain Defoe spend more wedge on a pair of ear-rings than the average working man earns in a year, there is perhaps one player who I have the time of day for and that is Javier Adelmar Zanetti …

At the age of thirty-seven, Zanetti is now in the twilight of an amazing career that has encompassed sixteen years as a first-team regular at Internazionale Milano. While the likes of Ryan Giggs may have played longer for one club and won more, Zanetti’s longevity is remarkable when you consider he’s outlasted sixteen different first-team coaches at Inter and captained the club for 12 years, while in the process of becoming the club’s all-time appearance record holder 

While the Argentine midfielder may have won five Serie A scudetti and countless other honours and is as fine a footballer as I’ve had the priviledge to see in the flesh, it’s more the man’s humility and compassion that strikes a chord with me. His FIFA ambassadorial work for the SOS Children’s Villages project in Argentina is just the tip of the iceberg. When the Argentinean economy crashed in 2001 in a manner that made recent Greek and Irish national financial woe look like a bad day in the bookies in comparison, Zanetti, along with his wife Paula, created the Fundación PUPI in an attempt to improve the social integration of poorer children via educational opportunities and better healthcare. Along with team-mate Esteban Cambiasso, he also co-founded Leoni di Potrero, a charity association to help coach young children with social isolation problems and motor coordination difficulties. And inbetween captaining Inter and Argentina, he also found the time to declare his support for the Zapatista guerrilla cause in Mexico.

 Zanetti organised a collection of over 5000 euros from Inter’s first-team squad via fining players for late arrival at training or use of mobile phones in the changing rooms. Following Mexican government forces attacks on the Zapatista stronghold of Zincantan in Chiapas, the club also donated an undisclosed sum of money to enable the rebels to rebuild a school, housing and a water pipeline. Zanetti also sent the following message to the Zapatistas:

“… We believe in a better world, in an unglobalised world, enriched by cultural differences and customs of all the people. This is why we want to support you in this struggle to maintain your roots and fight for your ideals …”

Javier Zanetti – list of honours

  • UEFA Champions League: 2009–10
  • UEFA Cup: 1997–98
  • Serie A: 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10
  • Coppa Italia: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2009–10
  • Supercoppa Italiana: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010
  • FIFA Club World Cup: 2010
  • Humanitarian and prince among men

Shaun Smith

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One Comment
  1. Interesting that.
    Sounds like a good egg. Riquelme recently kept his promise and gave back all his last year’s wages to Boca Jnrs after being injured for months. The ‘golden generation’ et al could learn lots by looking overseas (not Dubai)……if they knew where overseas was.

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