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Who is Javier Zanetti??

Who is Javier Zanetti?

Javier Zanetti is an Argentine footballer who made a career as both a fullback and midfielder. Zanetti made a name for himself as a football great through a long and successful career. Zanetti spent 20 years as a member of Inter Milan and the Argentina National Football Team. Zanetti holds the record for the seventh most appearances of all time.

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Early Years

Javier Adelmar Zanetti was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the summer of 1973. Zanetti was born to working-class parents of Italian descent. His father worked as a bricklayer and his mother spent her time as a cleaner. In his youth, Zanetti contributed to his family's income by delivering groceries and maintaining the pitch in their local suburb. It was here where Zanetti developed a love for the game of football.

Zanetti tried out for the youth academy at Independiente but was rejected because of his lack of physicality. Zanetti then joined the local football club, Talleres de Remedios de Escalada. Zanetti’s time with the club was valuable as it taught him the game and where he would be best positioned to play. In his one season with the club, Zanetti scored a single goal.

At twenty years of age, Zanetti was signed to the Argentine First division team Banfield. Zanetti had an outstanding first year with the club with 37 appearances. The following season was just as successful with three goals in twenty-nine appearances. Zanetti began to develop his signature style of passing and form at Banfield. Despite only having four goals in two seasons, Zanetti controlled the middle of the pitch during his time with the club. This ability was noticed far and wide and, in the summer of 1995, Zanetti was purchased by Inter Milan.

A Legacy at Inter Milan

Zanetti made his debut for the club immediately that summer and scored a deciding goal. He continued to contribute to Inter’s success throughout the season. In his first season with the club, Zanetti made 39 appearances and scored two goals. The following season Zanetti found the pitch more often with 50 appearances for the club and 4 goals.

The 1997-98 season featured a breakout performance from the Inter Milan side. The club, with Zanetti controlling the midfield, went on to with the UEFA Cup. Zanetti contributed to 41 matches that season scoring 2 goals.

Zanetti continued to control the midfield at Inter Milan through the turn of the century. In the seasons leading up to the year 2000, Zanetti had become a fixture in the squad averaging just under 50 appearances each season. At the start of the 2000-01 season, Zanetti was named captain of his side, a title he would hold for the next 14 years.

In 2006, Zanetti moved from the right-back position into the midfield. The change of position made it possible for Zanetti to break a four year period without a goal. This saw the beginning of Inter Milan’s domestic and continental success. For the first time in his career, Zanetti and Inter won the Coppa Italia in 2005. This jumpstarted the club’s success. With the contribution of Zanetti as a defending midfielder, Inter Milan won their first Scudetto during Zanetti’s tenure as captain. The side would go on to lift three more Coppa Italias and a total of four Supercoppas with Zanetti as captain.

Inter Milan would continue to dominate Serie A football in the 2006-07 season with a second league title. The following season, Inter and Zanetti would secure the Scudetto hat trick by winning the league for a third consecutive year. The 2008-09 season was another dominant showing by the Zanetti led side as they hoisted their fourth consecutive Serie A title. The club would finish a five-year streak with one more Scudetto in 2010.

In the 2010 Champions League Final, Zanetti made his 700th appearance for Inter Milan. His team would go on to beat Bayern Munich to lift his one and only Champions League trophy. The team would also go on that year to win the FIFA Club World Cup.

Zanetti continued to play for Inter Milan until 2014 when he retired after the final game of the season at the age of 40. By the end of his career, Zanetti had racked up a total of 1,114 games played making him the seventh on the list for footballers with the most games played. He spent nearly 20 years at Inter and has served as the club's captain for most of those years. Classic Inter Milan football shirts from the 2000s spark memories of Zanetti’s extensive career with the club.

The Argentina National Football Team

Zanetti made his debut for the Argentina National Football team early in his career. In 1994, Zanetti played against Chile. He continued to represent his country and in 1996 he competed in the Summer Olympics. Zanetti and the Argentine side put up a good fight throughout the tournament and placed second, earning the silver medal.

Zanetti was included on the 1998 World Cup squad for Argentina. He played in the group stage and helped his side advance in the tournament. The team would later be knocked out of the competition by the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

Zanetti was also chosen for the 2002 World Cup squad, but the team was eliminated during the group stage. Despite not being chosen for the World Cup squad in 2006, Zanetti was a fixture for Argentina in the Copa America. In 2007, Zanetti was named vice-captain for the Copa America tournament. Later that year, Zanetti earned the captaincy and set the record as the highest capped player in Argentina’s history. Zanetti only acted as captain for a short time before giving up the role.

Despite incredible success at the club level, Zanetti was not included in the 2010 World Cup. Zanetti played a few friendlies leading up to the 2011 Copa America. He started all of the games in the tournament before being eliminated in the quarter-finals. The 2011 Copa America was Zanetti's final appearance on the Argentine National Team. Throughout his 17 year stretch with the club, Zanetti wore several iconic Argentina football shirts while setting the record for the most capped player in his country's history.

Trophy Cabinet

Throughout his incredible career with Inter Milan, Zanetti racked up honours for both himself and his club. At Inter, Zanetti won the Serie A five times in a row. From 2005 to 2010, there was not a better team in all of Italy. Zanetti and Inter Milan dominated Italian football by winning the Coppa Italia four times and the Supercoppa Italiana four times.

Zanetti’s trophy cabinet also contains silverware from the European level. Zanetti and his club won the UEFA Cup in 1998. Eleven years later, they became the best in Europe by lifting both the FIFA Club World Cup and winning the UEFA Champions League.

As an individual, Zanetti has earned a good deal of recognition for his career. In 1996, Zanetti won the Pirata d’Oro as Inter Milan’s player of the year. Zanetti was named to UEFA’s Team of the Year five separate times. He was awarded the Golden Foot award in 2011. After his retirement, Zanetti was named to the AFA Team of All-Time. He won the Globe Soccer Player Career Award in 2016. In 2018, Zanetti was entered into both the Inter Milan Hall of Fame and the Italian Football Hall of Fame.

Famous Teammates

Marco Materazzi

The Italian born centre-back played for a plethora of teams throughout his career. Materazzi spent ten years on the same pitch as Zanetti at Inter Milan. The two were keys in the club's defence during their five year stretch of Serie A success.

Hernan Crespo

The Argentine striker spent two short stints at Inter Milan while Zanetti held the captaincy. The two spent more time together on the Argentina National Team. As a prolific striker, Crespo was responsible for finishing many of Zanetti’s deep passes.

Diego Simeone

Simeone is another Argentine who played on both Inter Milan and the Argentina National Football Team. The midfielder spent two seasons at the club with Zanetti in the late '90s. The two shared the pitch in many Copa America for Argentina.

Luis Figo

The Portuguese winger was a major factor in Inter Milan's four Serie A titles in the mid to late 2000s. Figo finished his football career at Inter Milan and played for four years under Zanetti as captain. Figo and Zanetti were a major factor in Inter Milan's ball movement during some of their most successful years. The pair is responsible for much of the side's creativity during their Serie A dominance.

Where Is He Now

After retiring from Inter Milan in 2014, Zanetti was named as the vice president of the club. He has served in that role ever since. Zanetti continues to have a hand in running the club as well as his own charitable organizations. The majority of Zanetti’s impact at Inter Milan is through their community outreach and charity work.

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