Javier Zanetti assures Inter ‘believe’ in Mateo Kovacic, praises Mauro Icardi, and reveals he turned down Real Madrid in his playing days.
The former full-back celebrated his 42nd birthday yesterday, and spoke to Sky about his life with the Nerazzurri, having joined in 1995 before making over 850 appearances and becoming vice-President.
“Mateo Kovacic? As a club we’ve always shown total faith, we’ve always believed in him,” Zanetti said.
“He has a lot of principles, he’s a great lad and we’re placing a lot in him. He’s been one of the best in pre-season, we hope he can have a fantastic season and grow along with the others.
“As for Icardi, we hope he’ll have another great season. He’s young, but he’s already a great striker and he can still improve.
“Mauro is happy to be at Inter, and he understands the importance of wearing the Nerazzurri shirt.”
Zanetti spent 19 seasons as a player with the Beneamata, and reveals his love for the club led to him turning down Real Madrid.
“I was close to Los Blancos many times, but I always chose with my heart. My family has always liked it in Milan, and I’ve always loved Inter.
“Recently, on the tour of China, we had lunch with the Real Madrid President Florentino Perez and he reminded me that he was still waiting for me to switch teams and join Real Madrid!”
Finally, the Argentinian shared an amusing story from the treble-winning campaign of 2009-10, watching a decisive Scudetto match with compatriot Diego Milito.
“We were watching it [the Roma-Sampdoria match] at Diego’s house,” Zanetti recalled, with the Blucerchiati running out 2-1 winners.
“He was holding his daughter, and Samp scored the equaliser. Then they went in front. His wife told him that she’d take the baby, but Diego said no because it was going so well!”