Yesterday, Internazionale released a statement saying that they were deeply saddened by the passing of one of Helenio Herrera’s Grande Inter players. Joaquin Peiró is a name that will live forever in the hearts of the Inter faithful despite his time there only lasting two seasons. He was a great player for so many other clubs, especially in Spain, but his time in Italy and especially at San Siro saw him exalted as one of the club’s most treasured players.
Between 1954 and 1962, Peiró was the darling at Atletico Madrid. He played 166 games, scoring 95 La Liga goals. It seemed he always had a link with Italy however, as he scored both goals in the European Cup Winners Cup when beating Fiorentina. With two Copa del Rey trophies and his prestigious European silverware under his belt, he signed for Torino, who had noticed his performances for Spain in the World Cup in Chile. He signed for what would be 150,000 Euro in today’s market, a good fee for the time and was only the third Spanish player to move to Serie A after Luis Del Sol (Juventus) and Inter’s Luis Suarez.
It was a good spell in Turin, his 10 goals in 46 games brought him to the attention of Helenio Herrera and his Grande Inter side, who were fresh from coming back with the European Cup the previous season. Here he would team up with compatriot Luis Suarez and Brazilian Jair da Costa as one of the three foreigners in the squad. What happened next was quite incredible.
The strange thing about Peiró, is that he is certainly revered and respected in Milan and rightly so, yet he only played 25 times for Inter (in Serie A) and scored just eight goals, a poor return in both departments for a centre-forward. Even so, in his two years at Inter he managed to win two Scudetto titles, two Intercontinental Cups and one European Cup. He made a decisive contribution, scoring 16 goals in 47 matches in all competitions. The reason he is so famous however, is that he was a big game player and scorer of decisive goals.
In his first 1964-65 season, Inter nearly won a Treble, only losing the Coppa Italia Final to Juventus. They did win a different kind of Treble, beating Independiente in the Intercontinental Cup. In Serie A, Peiró scored four times, a consolation against Foggia, then the winner at Messina and two in a 3-0 win against Lazio. In an era when only two foreign players could play at one time, he was very much the third wheel and it was in the cup competitions when he was brought in to shine. He scored in the Coppa opener against Cagliari that campaign, but his most famous moment came that year in the European Cup.
Peiró had been the difference-maker against Glasgow Rangers in the quarter-finals, scoring twice in a 3-2 aggregate win. Next up were Liverpool and Inter had come back reeling from Anfield after being soundly beaten 3-1. The comeback looked impossible, but it was a night when legends were made. Mario Corso scored at San Siro after only eight minutes, then moments later Peiró stole the ball from the goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence and made it 2-0. The legendary Giacinto Facchetti made it three on 62 minutes. Inter went on to win the European Cup against Benfica thanks to a Jair goal in the Final at San Siro.
The 1965 season saw more highlights, two goals in two minutes brought Inter back from 2-1 down to win 3-2 against Vicenza, two goals helped beat SPAL 2-1 in a poor game that needed some inspiration and more importantly a goal in the 3-0 win that meant Inter won the Intercontinental Cup against Independiente for a second year running. That would be it however for Peiró’s time at Inter. Roma came calling, he moved to the Giallorossi and played 103 league games scoring 21 goals, winning the Coppa Italia in 1969. He was replaced at Inter by Luis Vinicio, but the Brazilian flopped, scoring once in eight games.
Joaquin Lucas Peiró was a man who had a short yet monumental impact at Inter. He will be sorely missed in Spain and he also had a fine coaching career, but his loss will be felt deeply in Milan. In one of Inter’s greatest ever teams with one of their greatest ever coaches at the helm, he proved invaluable to the squad. He was just that a squad player with an incredible impact when needed, he was no third wheel. He was a man who waited until he was called on and delivered when it mattered.