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INTER HALL OF FAME 2018 | Mazzola – Matthaus – Stankovic

INTER HALL OF FAME 2018 | Mazzola – Matthaus – Stankovic

It was tough for him initially to break into the starting line-up. That was an amazing Inter side, which beat everyone, everywhere. In my opinion, he was the best player in Inter’s history. A wonderful player, a fighter, a motivator, a charismatic person and footballer. You could ask him where his best position was, and he’d reply, “Wherever you need me, coach. I’ll play where you need me to.” A true champion. He was a classic central midfielder, who combined stamina and physical prowess with superb technique. A battler, an amazing battler. He was the player who revolutionised Inter’s attack. With his pace, skill and unpredictability, he changed everything. He was a number 10-and-a-half, so to say, because he wasn’t an attacking midfielder or an out-and-out striker but he was so dangerous in the space in between. I think he was one of the best attacking midfielders we’ve had in Italy. These days I see players who, faced with a man in front of them, run away, turn back or pass the ball back. Sandro wasn’t like that. Even with a man in front of him, he’d go for it because he had the confidence to beat his man. I think Enea Masiero’s definition says it all: Mazzola was totally unmarkable because he had this ability to inject a burst of pace and unbelievable speed with the ball at his feet. In difficult moments, a word from him, his hard work and desire inspired others to do the same. It didn’t matter what he said, you just had to watch what he did. There was always something to copy and merely by watching those players, you learned a lot. Lothar was acknowledged as the leader on the pitch because he transformed games and left his mark. He could play both with and without the ball. He could mark Maradona, score goals, put crosses in and tear you to pieces. He was one of those players with lightning-fast reactions and so he could dictate the pace of a game. He was a complete player: he could defend or attack and scored important goals, not least the free kick that won us the Scudetto. I remember it perfectly because I scored the first goal. It came off Fusi and they didn’t give it to me because in those days they always put them down as own goals, and then there was the joy of his free kick. When we played Napoli they were second. They were winning 1-0 at San Siro but then we won 2-1 thanks to Lothar’s free-kick. It was important – I think we won the league with five or six weeks to spare. Thankfully, he scored the goal and we won the Scudetto – and had a big party! I think that everybody who played with Lothar here at Inter believes that he gave us more than anyone else. I have to say that he stepped up, showed character and exceeded all our expectations. He had a massive heart and was a very generous player. Very generous. And he had amazing quality. He was the prototype of the perfect central midfielder. He had it all – strength, running, intelligence, the ability to get forward… Technique. In my eyes, he achieved less than he could have given his attributes. I commentated on both of the goals. I asked myself the same question in Genoa and Milan. How did he do it? How did he do it? It was incredible. Deki’s goals were almost always special. I’m not saying he’s crazy, but to do that without thinking, in that moment… He scored two of the greatest goals ever from virtually the halfway line, on the volley. That’s talent. Regular players don’t even think of doing that. They don’t even see it. It’s talent. As Boskov used to say, where some see a small path, others see a motorway. You mention the goals against Schalke and Genoa, but I prefer the one against AC Milan. I think it was 4-0, one of our best games. It was from outside the area and I remember I was standing diagonally behind him and I knew it was a goal as soon as it left his boot. Absolutely fantastic.

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