Today is the 54th birthday of Inter legend and 1982 World Cup winner Beppe Bergomi.
Born in Milan in 1963, Giuseppe began playing for the Milan’s youth team, but he was let go because of a blood condition.
Bergomi immediately impressed with the Nerazzurri, and aged just 16 he was given his debut against Juventus in the Coppa Italia on January 30, 1980.
The young defender helped his teammates to a 0-0 draw that night, and the following year he was given his Serie A debut in a 2-1 win away at Como.
Although primarily a right-back, Bergomi was capable of playing anywhere across the backline and his versatility and talent soon saw him called up by Italy.
Aged just 18, he made his debut for the Azzurri in a 1-0 friendly loss to East Germany in April 1982, before being included in the squad for that summer’s World Cup.
Enzo Bearzot’s side would of course go on to win the tournament, with Bergomi playing 90 minutes in both the semi-final and the final.
He was involved in Marco Tardelli’s famous goal in that final, exchanging passes with Gaetano Scirea inside the box before the Juventus man picked up his teammate on the edge.
While World Cup glory arrived at the age of just 18, it was a far longer wait for Bergomi to taste glory at club level.
The 1980s were dominated by Giovanni Trapattoni’s Juventus side, before Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan and a Napoli team inspired by Diego Maradona came to the fore.
In the 1988-89 season though the Beneamata added their 13th Scudetto and Bergomi finally got to taste success at club level.
Inter, now coached by Trapattoni, lost just two matches all season as they took the title by 11 points in an era where it was still two points for a win.
The following season saw the Nerazzurri finish third behind Napoli and Milan, but that earned qualification for the UEFA Cup, which they duly won in 1991 by beating Roma in a two-legged final.
Bergomi would go on to win that tournament in 1994 and 1998, as well as being a losing finalist in 1997, and to this day he holds the record for UEFA Cup appearances with 96.
His final UEFA Cup triumph in 1998 earned an Italy recall at the age of 34, and he played three games at the tournament before the Azzurri were eliminated in the quarter-finals.
The following season would prove to be his last as a player, with Bergomi making 39 appearances across all competitions before deciding to hang up his boots.
His final match for Inter was a 3-1 win over Bologna on May 23, 1999.
The Nerazzurri were the only club for which Bergomi ever played, and his 756 appearances put him second in the all-time appearance list behind only Javier Zanetti.
In the Derby della Madonnina, only Paolo Maldini and Zanetti can claim more than his 44 appearances.
For Italy he was capped 81 times, winning the World Cup in 1982 and helping the Azzurri to a third-place finish at Italia ’90.
Bergomi is now a well-respected pundit for Sky Italia, and in that capacity he also had a small role in the 2006 World Cup win.
As Alessandro Del Piero scored the second goal in the semi-final win over Germany, commentator Fabio Caressa screams - “andiamo a Berlino, Beppe!” or “we’re going to Berlin, Beppe!”
The eponymous Beppe? Bergomi, of course.
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