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Friday, May 14, 2010
Known as "Pupi" in Argentina, Zanetti was born in Buenos Aires, picking up the nickname "Il Trattore" (The Tractor) soon after his move to Italy where his strength, resilience, stamina, and his ability to run past opposing defenders when joining the attack from his right back position earned him notoriety. More recently, he plays in the right midfield. He ended a 4-year goal drought when he scored on 5 November 2006. In the national team, he is deployed as a right back but is able to switch between defense and attack easily.
Zanetti has won four Serie A titles with Inter, having earned the nickname "Il Capitano" (The Captain) among the fans and media since taking captaincy at Inter. He holds the record for the highest all-time appearances by a non-Italian born player for an Italian club, with over 600 official matches for the club, 500 of which were in the Italian Serie A.
Zanetti, who plans to retire with Inter and continue to work with the club thereafter, is also noted for his charity work, running a foundation to benefit disadvantaged children in Argentina. He has been named an ambassador for the SOS Children's Villages project in Argentina by FIFA, and in 2005, he received the Ambrogino d'Oro award from the Milan townhall for his social initiative.
Javier Adelmar Zanetti was born in Buenos Aires and grew up in the harbour area in the Dock Sud district. He combined schooling and working commitments, helping his bricklayer father in masonry alongside delivering milk, and working in his cousin's grocery store without neglecting his passion for football. He began playing football on a field in the city suburbs, maintaining the pitch in his spare time.
Zanetti, after being rejected by the youth division of Argentina's Independiente, he signed for Talleres de Remedios de Escalada (a second division team at the time) but moved in 1993 to the Argentine First Division club Banfield.
A 20-year-old Zanetti debuted for Banfield on 12 September 1993 in a home match against River Plate. He scored his first goal 17 days later against Newell's Old Boys in a match that ended 1-1. His outstanding performances for Banfield gained popularity from El Taladro fans and also earned him a call-up from the national team. First division giants River Plate and Boca Juniors came knocking but Zanetti decided to stay on for another year at the club. In 1995, along with fellow Argentine Sebastián Rambert, he transferred to Italy's Internazionale, becoming team owner Massimo Moratti's first-ever purchase.
He made his debut for Inter on 27 August 1995 against Vicenza in Milan. Throughout his stay with the club, he has won eleven trophies: the UEFA Cup in 1998 – scoring the second goal for the final with a shot outside the penalty area –, the 2005, 2006 and 2010 Coppa Italia, the 2005, 2006 and 2008 Italian Super Cup, and the 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 Scudetto. He scored the decisive penalty kick to help Inter win the 2008 Italian Super Cup.
Zanetti's qualities have earned him respect on and off the field. He is sometimes criticised for being too soft-spoken on the pitch, but he makes up for this by being one of Inter's most consistent, reliable, and trusted players. As such, he was rewarded with the club captaincy, taking over from legendary defender Giuseppe Bergomi. Being a part of the squad for the last 13 seasons and with over 600 appearances, he is currently the team's longest-tenured player, and the second overall behind Bergomi (758) in the all-time list of most capped Inter players. To Inter fans, Zanetti is one of the greatest players to have ever worn the colors of the black and blue. He celebrated his 600th cap for Inter in style with a 1-0 win over newly promoted Lecce. Minutes before the match, he was presented with a commemorative plate by vice-captain Iván Córdoba to mark the special occasion.
Since the arrival of Maicon at the beginning of the 2006-07 season, Zanetti was moved from the right back position into midfield and left-back. He ended a 4-year goal drought when he scored on 5 November 2006 at a home match against Ascoli, having previously scored on 6 November 2002 at an away match against Empoli. On 27 September 2006, against Bayern Munich, Zanetti played his 500th professional match for Inter and on 22 November 2006, he appeared in his 100th UEFA match against Sporting Clube de Portugal.
As of 2010, Zanetti has not received a red card in more than eleven years. The last time he was sent off was on 17 February 1999 in a Coppa Italia match against Parma. Zanetti said:
"I haven't argued with Referees, but I was very disappointed when Braschi showed me my first red card in the game against Parma a few years ago. I had nothing to do with it and he sent me off."
At Inter, Zanetti has had 15 different coaches (list), making him the only player to have played under this many coaches. His current contract with Internazionale runs until 2010. The captain has pledged his future to the Nerazzurri, hoping to have a future behind the desk at the club once he hangs up his boots after he quits playing. "Inter means a lot to me," Zanetti said,
"It was the first team to open the doors of European football. I was very young when I came here and I think not many teams could have had so much faith and patience with a boy in his early 20s from the very first day like Inter did with me. I will always be grateful for that. For some reason I have always felt at home here at Inter and this is why I have never thought of leaving."
Though Zanetti is more often classified as a defender, he has played in the midfield for most of the first half of the 2008-09 season. For the last several weeks of October 2008, with Portuguese coach José Mourinho facing a midfield crisis due to injuries to key midfielders Esteban Cambiasso and Sulley Muntari, he was moved again to the midfield for the matches against Genoa and Fiorentina. Since then, Mourinho has played him in the midfield due to the preference of Maicon, Lúcio, Wálter Samuel, and Cristian Chivu in the back four.
The 2009-10 season began well for Zanetti and Inter, especially after a 4-0 thrashing of crosstown rivals in the Milan derby. In the 17 October match against Genoa, he started off the counterattack that led to Inter's second goal after dispossessing a Genoa player. Inter became the first team of the season to win by a 5-goal margin. On 24 October, he reached Giacinto Facchetti's record of 476 Serie A appearances when he turned out for the match against Catania, which ended in a 2-1 win for the Nerazzurri. He also currently holds a club record of 149 consecutive appearances.
Zanetti debuted for Argentina on 16 November 1994 against Chile under coach Daniel Passarella. He has since represented his country at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. He was also part of the team that won the silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, USA.
In the 1998 World Cup run, he neatly finished off a Diego Simeone free kick in the round of 16 match against England making the score 2-2. Argentina went on to win 4-3 on penalties but lost the quarter-final match to the Netherlands.
Zanetti played for Marcelo Bielsa's Argentine national team in the 2002 World Cup. However, they finished 3rd in their group, despite winning the opening match.
Zanetti celebrated his 100th cap by helping Argentina win their 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final over Mexico on 26 June 2005, in which he won the Man of the Match award.
After having been part of the team during the qualification rounds, Zanetti was not called up for the 2006 FIFA World Cup by coach José Pekerman in a controversial decision.
Instead, Lionel Scaloni was given a surprise selection, a move that bewildered many fans and media.
"I don't know if there are any footballing or non-footballing reasons. But I can sleep peacefully because I have given so much to my national team, and I still feel a player of the Argentine national team. I'm certainly not Pekerman's kind of player,"
Zanetti commented after being omitted from the final squad.
With new coach Alfio Basile, Zanetti was called for a friendly match against France on 7 February 2007. He played brilliantly and helped Javier Saviola to score the only goal of the game that gave Argentina the first victory under Basile's second management. That same year, Zanetti was vice-captain of the Argentine Squad for the Copa América 2007, having previously appeared in the 1995, 1999 and the 2004 editions of the tournament.
In April 2007, Zanetti was presented with the National Giuseppe Prisco Award.Since the retirement of Ayala, Zanetti has been given the captain's armband. At a World Cup qualification match against Bolivia on 17 November 2007, he became the most capped player ever for Argentina.
Zanetti remained a regular under new coach Diego Maradona, although Liverpool defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano took over as captain at Maradona's request. Recently, however, Diego Maradona has failed to call Zanetti to the Argentina squad and he'll likely miss the 2010 World Cup.
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 June 22, 1995 Mendoza, Argentina Slovakia 1 – 0 Win Friendly
2 May 14, 1998 La Plata, Argentina Bosnia and Herzegovina 5 – 0 Win Friendly
3 June 30, 1998 Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne, France England 2 – 2 (4-3 PK) Win 1998 FIFA World Cup
4 June 8, 2003 Osaka, Japan Japan 4 – 1 Win Friendly
5 October 9, 2004 El Monumental, Buenos Aires, Argentina Uruguay 4 – 2 Win World Cup 2006 Qualifying
Club performance League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Argentina League Cup South America Total
1992-93 Talleres de Escalada Primera B Nacional 17 1 - - 17 1
1993-94 Banfield Primera División 37 1 - - 37 1
1994-95 29 3 - - 29 3
Italy League Coppa Italia Europe Total
1995-96 Internazionale Serie A 32 2 5 0 2 0 39 2
1996-97 33 3 5 1 12 0 50 4
1997-98 28 0 4 0 9 2 41 2
1998-99 34 3 7 0 9 1 50 4
1999-00 34 1 8 1 - 43 2
2000-01 29 0 1 0 4 0 37 0
2001-02 33 0 1 1 11 1 45 2
2002-03 34 1 1 0 18 0 52 1
2003-04 34 0 5 0 12 0 51 0
2004-05 35 0 3 0 11 0 47 0
2005-06 25 0 6 0 8 0 40 0
2006-07 37 1 5 0 8 0 50 1
2007-08 38 1 5 0 8 0 51 1
2008-09 38 0 4 0 8 0 50 0
2009-10 36 0 4 0 12 0 51 0
Total Argentina 83 5 - - 83 5
Italy 502 12 62 3 129 4 685 19
Career Total 585 17 62 3 129 4 768 24
Last updated May 3, 2010
UEFA Cup: 1997-98
Coppa Italia: 2004-05, 2005-06, 2009-10
Italian Super Cup: 2005, 2006, 2008
Serie A: 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09
Pallone d'Argento: 2002
FIFA Team of the Year 2009 Nominated (right back):
In 1992, Zanetti met his wife Paula and married after seven years of dating. They live near Lake Como, where they own a restaurant called "El Gaucho". Today, Paula Zanetti, daughter of a university teacher, works as a photographer. On 11 June 2005, she gave birth to a baby girl, Sol Zanetti. Javier Zanetti said, "I'm very happy about this baby girl who has come into my life. It was a beautiful experience with my wife. My daughter will have all the happiness she deserves."
Zanetti's elder brother Sergio is a former football defender. Javier Zanetti is not related to Cristiano Zanetti, an Italian who played alongside him for five seasons and is currently playing for Fiorentina.
In 2007, Zanetti collaborated with Italian singer Mina Mazzini in a Spanish cover of the song "Parole parole", found in the album Todavía.
In 2005, the Milan townhall awarded Zanetti with the Ambrogino d'Oro for his social initiative. Zanetti is also the FIFA ambassador for the SOS Children's Villages project in Argentina, and has declared his support for the Mexican Zapatista rebels.
Zanetti has also proven that he has a highly-developed social conscience. In response to Argentina's economic crisis of 2001, which threw millions of people into poverty, Zanetti, with his wife Paula, created the Fundación PUPI (PUPI foundation) in Argentina for the social integration of poor children. The aim of the organization is to help children by giving them educational opportunities, as well as taking care of their nutritional requirements who were left impoverished by the country's economic crisis.
"When I look back to my childhood, many concrete scenes come to my mind, good ones and bad ones. I had a difficult childhood, and even though I don't live in my country at present, I'm well aware of what's going on there and the devastating effect it's having on our poorest children. I've always believed that our public actions need to take account of our social responsibility,"
Leoni di Potrero
Zanetti, along with his compatriot and current teammate at Inter, Esteban Cambiasso, unveiled this charity association to help coach young children with social isolation problems and motor coordination difficulties. Zanetti said, "Reminding those present that this spirit lies at the base of all of Inter's initiatives for youngsters."
"There must always be values at the heart of sport, and this is what we have to teach children."