One of history's finest full backs, Internazionale's undisputed greatest ever player and an Argentine legend, Javier Zanetti will retire from professional football after Inter's home match against Lazio on Saturday.
Zanetti has had, in all honesty, an astonishing career. Signing for the Nerazzurri in 1995 from Banfield, Zanetti has gone on to make a record 613 appearances for the Milan club. He has captained the side for 15 years and won an astonishing 16 trophies for them. Internationally, Zanetti is Argentina's most capped player with 145 international appearances.
Zanetti, aged 40, is arguably history's finest right back. He was complete as a full back can be, at one point mopping up at the back, at another sprinting forwards and setting up goals. Zanetti was always a performer on the big occasions; in the UEFA Cup final of 1998 against Lazio his magnificent half volley from around 25 yards sealed Inter the win; in an international against England he cooly finished Juan Veron's free kick; he was superb throughout the 2010/11 campaign in which they won the treble.
Not only did Zanetti strive for achievement himself, but for the entire team. He was, effectively, a player coach. He captained the side and inspired his players, corrected their errors and led by example. He has been supported Internazionale on and off the pitch for years, and I'm sure will continue to do so behind a desk.
Zanetti has kept up these breathtaking standards for so many years, and this consistency is simply extraordinary. You can talk about Ryan Giggs, Paolo Maldini, Gianluigi Buffon, and Javier Zanetti is right up there with them. A true legend of the game.
Let's end with some quotes:
"In this world, not one player I fear, unless Zanetti" (Marco Materazzi)
The real football Icon" (Roberto Mancini)
"The enemy of my most respected" (Paolo Maldini)
"If I have 10% of 100% ability Zanetti, I could be the best player in the world" (Davide Santon)
"The most formidable opponent I faced was Javier Zanetti" (Ryan Giggs)
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