Friday August 3 2012
Will El Tractor ever stop?

Javier Zanetti is approaching a record 800th game for Inter, prompting Dave Taylor to remark on his continued influence in Serie A.

A new era dawns for Inter as Coach Andrea Stramaccioni rejuvenates the squad and attempts to construct a spirited team in his own style - spirited, determined and youthful.

Yet, amid the carnival of gilded youth that is the modern game, it is sometimes easy to forget that experience also counts for something, regarding footballing endeavour. In the Nerazzurri’s case no-one is more qualified than Javier Zanetti, whose 798 competitive games played for the club, before his 39th birthday next week, renders him unique in Serie A.

Stramaccioni’s squad going into 2012-13 has emerged from a summer that has witnessed several veteran protagonists depart. It is now an intriguing and exciting blend of new signings, loanees and primavera graduates. If you like, a sort of footballing version of the traditional wedding custom, ‘Something old, something new. Something borrowed, something blue.’

The old is ably represented almost singularly now by Zanetti, who is nearly three older than his Coach. However, if he plays anything like he did last night in the 3-0 Europa League defeat of Hajduk Split, then he can still contribute buckets to his beloved Beneamata.

“In spite of my age, I feel I’m in good shape and want to do my bit for the team,” he insisted this week. “I’ll be the first to step down if I realise I can’t keep up the pace. There’s talk of a young team and I agree completely. Those of us who have more experience will be able to give the younger players a hand to improve.”  

It is apparent that he is not the long-term solution in the new-style 4-2-3-1 formation, but his versatility on both flanks as a defender or a midfielder and his propensity in central midfield will provide more time to prepare the team for when he inevitably hang up his boots. Before then his standing in the dressing room also means he can be Strama’s conduit to the players on and off the pitch.

Pupi also wants to make up for the Nerazzurri’s disappointing sixth place last season and believes the new squad is good enough to challenge for the Scudetto. “We want to start off again as soon as possible and have a great season. We’ll be a team with clear ideas and it is our firm intention to contend for the title,” he added. 

El Tractor is out of contract next June, two months short of his 40th birthday, yet his predecessor Beppe Bergomi, still thinks his engine can keep ticking over. “Once I joked about him playing until he was 50,” remarked the legendary defender. “Now I seriously believe that he can play until he's 45. His fitness is intact and like Paolo Maldini, he will decide when and why to quit football. He is a superman.”

Well, although not quite Clark Kent, he does have his secret, and it is dedication. “I don't mess around when it comes to fitness care,” he says. “Also, the harmony I find at home with my beautiful family helps me concentrate solely about football. My secret is to train as intensively as I can, if possible, with the same level of intensity you experience in a real match and as long as my body responds, I will keep on playing.”

And although Javier may no longer be youthful he is still certainly determined and spirited.  Former Inter Coach Jose Mourinho put it best when he said: “To me Zanetti represents the joy of living, the joy of making football your job every morning. He is the smile, the life force, the passion for training, the good cheer for everyone who works with him.”

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
I'm a Real Madrid fan from Madrid. And because of this man, I was cheering up for Inter while they met Bayern in our stadium in the champions league final. I have the outmost respect for this guy, he is an icon in the world of football.
on the 16th November, 2012 at 5:59pm
A Captain, A Legend, and A true Nerazzurri!
I hope one day the number 4 will retire with him, coz I seriously think no one deserves to wear the same number as Capitano! Forza Zanneti, Forza Nerazzurri...!
on the 8th August, 2012 at 5:03am
I am not the only Milan fan who admires Javier Zanetti as a sportsman, a player and a man. The terms "great" and "legend" are vastly overused these days but Zanetti is both !
on the 7th August, 2012 at 12:56pm
has been my favourite player since i first saw him play complete role model on and off the pitch. i hope his last game isn't for a while but i'll be there to cheer him on and applaud a living legend
on the 6th August, 2012 at 6:53pm
I remember he said about a year ago that he will play until INTER adds another star [won on the pitch] to their chests (20 Scudetti)!! LIVING LEGEND!
on the 6th August, 2012 at 5:52am
Nothing but RESPECT for Zanetti. I hope he keeps playing for as long as he can!
on the 5th August, 2012 at 4:54am
Gracious, self-sacrificing, dedicated, not motivated by money, professional, exemplary


Too rare in people, let alone football

Javier you will never be forgotten by all interisti
on the 4th August, 2012 at 5:13pm
Living legend ! There is no one like him! His dedication, commitments, desire to do the best is like no other. He always be respected by any true football fans and any footballers around the world! He is NERRAZZURI legend! World legend! FORZA INTER!
on the 4th August, 2012 at 12:25pm
Curva Sud, but massive respect for Zanetti. Loyal and respected. One of very few left on the field of football.
on the 4th August, 2012 at 8:57am
the most player i respect in the world despite i am a crazy Juve fan.
on the 4th August, 2012 at 8:24am
It say's so much about Zanetti when fans of other clubs like Milan & Juve pay him respect on this blog. Zanetti is a true Legend and Professional and we Interisti have been so lucky to have him. Forza Capitano !
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 9:50pm
What a player, shame we cudnt steal him for the national team
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 9:30pm
Forza capitano!!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 7:43pm
A part of me will die when Zanetti retires from football, but he should not leave before Inter are back to its zenith. No disrespect to the likes of Giggs, but at a similar age I have not seen another player play the maximum amount of time for a club in a season. You think that the man is 39 and thats probably his last season but when you see him play he still embaresses players half his age and does not look close to being washed up.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 5:10pm
How does this guy stay so good for so long?? Zanetti is great.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:50pm
Big respect to Capitano Zanetti! Great player, a true professional. A Legend! A good example for the younger players too.

Forza Zanetti Forza Milan!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:40pm
Great respect for a true champion, too bad he is Interista.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:14pm
I love this man for who he is. A legend no doubt and best yet an Inter icon same level with Fachetti. A role model for all young footballers everyway. Forza Zanetti :)
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 3:12pm
The word legend was invented for the man. I had the honour of seeing him live at the recent friendly between Celtic and Inter Milan. In the 2nd half he played right back right in front of where I was sitting, an awesome experience.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 2:55pm
Respect from a Juve fan, Inter should learn from our mistake in handling ADP's situation, let the guy play until he can't run anymore.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 2:51pm
We love u zanetti!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 2:41pm
Great article! Il Capitano is an example of a player and sadly a kind of player that's ceasing to exist. We no longer see the career players at the big clubs. ADP hung up his boots at JFC. Totti may soon follow. Maldini was a great example too. I think this is one topic that ALL tiffosi can agree on and one that we all want to see a bit more of. At the end of the day we follow football because of the clubs and not because of the players. Players come & go but clubs are forever!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 2:32pm
In terms of his forward runs, I grant you he's no Maicon. But then Maicon doesn't have his defensive capabilities either. Time and again I've watched Maicon stand and look on as people run by him, or not jump to defend a crossed ball. I realise he brings a different dimension and he's not always in a position to defend, but when he is in position his commitment is awful. I'd much rather have Zanetti's presence in the team.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 2:04pm
Zanetti still has a place in the first eleven for this season. Although he's demonstrated in the past that there's several positions he can play, I believe those have narrowed over the last season or two - I think he struggles now anywhere except rightback. Of course people respond to cliches and say he doesn't have the pace or stamina now, but his performances tell me differently; every game I see him dribbling by people or hitting the ball past them and running onto it and making forward runs.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 2:00pm
I'm a Juventino till the day I die, but Zanetti deserves respect !
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 1:48pm
Hopefully he plays until he is 44, so his final apperance in pro football is the first ever match in the new Stadio Giacinto Facchetti.

Il Capitano per sempre!
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 1:40pm
That is what Matter to see a legend gradually moving forward without even look back. Keep on give the young star courage to move even if they thing of there age but strength is what matter in football on till they fill that there leg is not in shape anymore up Zanetti FORZA INTERMILAN
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 1:35pm
He is indeed inspirational and a role model. I wish there were more people and football players like him.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 1:34pm
Grande capitano
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 1:33pm
Pupi can continue playing for Inter for as long as he wants. No questions asked. It will be a sad day when he does leave but until then Forza Javier.
on the 3rd August, 2012 at 1:31pm

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.