MILAN - Evergreen Inter Milan captain
Javier Zanetti knows more than anyone else what a Champions
League final means to the club and how important it is to hang
on to restless coach Jose Mourinho.
The 36-year-old Argentine talisman, whose boundless energy
and mind-boggling fitness at fullback or in midfield put younger
players to shame, has worked under 13 coaches since joining
Inter in 1995.
He endured the dark times when top trophies evaded Inter and
now hopes victory over Bayern Munich in Saturday's final in
Madrid can help persuade Mourinho to stay after the coach said
he would consider his options following the game.
"The boss has been very clear, he will talk after the
final," Zanetti told Reuters at Inter's leafy training ground, a
world away from the hustle and bustle of Milan or the San Siro.
"The only thing that we can hope is the boss rethinks and
that he can continue with us because we have achieved great
Zanetti can be forgiven for thinking Mourinho has already
decided to leave following a deluge of media reports saying he
has agreed to join Real Madrid.
The Portuguese coach has said the rumours are not true at
this stage but has continually expressed his unhappiness with
the harsh environment of Italian football where critics jump on
his every move.
Zanetti, despite playing over 600 times for Inter and
holding the record for the most appearances by a non-Italian, is
like a child in a sweet shop ahead of his first European Cup
final and the club's first since 1972.
"For me it's a great honour to play in this great final
because it is a final of a prestigious competition for all of
us, for the club, for the fans," said Zanetti, whose side are
bidding for an unprecedented Italian treble having won the
league for a fifth straight time and the Cup.
"I believe the team are approaching this final in the best
The long-time charity worker, left out of Argentina's World
Cup squad by Diego Maradona to the bemusement of Inter fans and
most of Serie A, is likely to play at left back on Saturday and
could come up against Bayern's wing wizard Arjen Robben.
"They are a very strong team. They are physically strong and
above all they have players upfront that can decide the match at
any moment," Zanetti added through his broad but endearing
"We are a pumped-up team that meet Bayern with a lot of
respect knowing that there is a very important trophy at stake."
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