Hall of Fame

Pellegrini, a gentleman president in the 'Hall of Fame': 'My Inter is stronger than that of the Triplete'

The president of the Scudetto dei Record talks about the past and present: 'Rummenigge was exceptional, it would have been nice to see him play alongside Barella and Lautaro Martinez'. And on the Champions League derby: "Inter are favourites, but often those who are favourites do not win...".

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Pellegrini, a gentleman president in the 'Hall of Fame': 'My Inter is stronger than that of the Triplete'

They broke up almost 30 years ago, but he still loves her. He is Ernesto Pellegrini, the 17th president in Inter's history and a new member of the 'Italian Football Hall of Fame'. He joins a prestigious association, a more than deserved recognition for a self-made entrepreneur, a passionate and competent manager who, after winning the Scudetto dei Record (58 points in 34 games in the 88/89 season, when a win was worth 2 points) in 1991, brought Inter back to winning ways in Europe after 26 long years of fasting: 'I thank the Federation and those who proposed to award me,' he began on the phone and then recalled the first meeting with his beloved. It was 4 April 1954, at the San Siro, a head-to-head clash between the two candidates for a Scudetto that would be decided in the last two days, with the Nerazzurri able to win their seventh title in a sprint. There was also a thirteen-year-old boy in the stands, unaware that thirty years later he would be able to treat himself to his favourite team: 'It was my first time at the stadium. We won decisively (6-0), dominating the game. Since then the bond has grown stronger and stronger. And in 1984 I bought Inter from Ivanoe Fraizzoli'. At a very different price from today: 'I paid less than six billion lire for it'.

A decade later, Pellegrini passed the baton to Massimo Moratti, who is also among the members of the 'Hall of Fame': 'I hold him in high esteem, every now and then we talk. Also because with his company he is a client of mine. No, we don't talk about Inter, lately Massimo doesn't come to the stadium'. Pellegrini and Moratti, two fan presidents in a world where big patrons no longer find space: 'Ours was a more romantic football. But football is made up of cycles and maybe in a few years the figure of the 'president-fan' will return. I hope so...'. The question arises. Is the Inter of the Scudetto dei Record stronger or the Inter of the Triplete: 'Mine,' Pellegrini's lapidary answer, 'but I admit that I may not be objective. That team won little for the potential it had, let's say that morally we also deserved the Scudetto of '90/'91. In some matches, including the direct clash with Sampdoria, the referees got up to all sorts of mischief. Unfortunately there was no VAR at the time.

If Moratti brought many champions to Inter, above all Ronaldo il Fenomeno, Pellegrini was no less. Thanks to him, the various Rummenigge, Matthäus, Klinsmann, Brehme, Sammer, Ramon Diaz, Passarella and Scifo arrived in Milan: 'It's true, I bought many great players. If I have to name one, I'd say Rummenigge: I saw in him a man who could resemble me as a character and as a way of understanding football and life. An exceptional person, who made an important mark on my presidency.

The Germany that became World Champion at Italia '90 had its solid foundations in those technical and charismatic leaders chosen by Pellegrini to take his Inter team to the top: 'I have always liked German players. Strong guys, serious, real champions. Perhaps the one who performed the least was Sammer, who would later win the Ballon d'Or. The coach (Bagnoli, ed.) preferred Šalimov to him, selling him was a mistake'. Another great Pellegrini acquisition goes by the name of Oliver Bierhoff, who, however, never wore the Inter shirt. At the time, clubs were not allowed to have more than three foreigners: 'I had to turn him over to Ascoli. One day President Rozzi came to me and accused me of having stood him up: but Oliver was a formidable player, as he proved in his career. He just needed to settle in, to adapt to our football. As characteristics he reminded me a lot of Aldo Serena'.

Playing with the time machine, Pellegrini has no doubts in pointing out which current Inter players he would have liked in his Inter: 'Barella and Lautaro. Barella is a little Matthäus, he is a complete midfielder who plays every game putting his heart and soul into it. And Lautaro in my team would have done wonders: I like that he makes the sign of the cross before entering the field, he seems like a serious guy". The Nerazzurri fans hope that the Argentine champion will also make the difference in the Champions League derby: "I'm not superstitious. We are favourites, but unfortunately very often the favourite teams do not respect the predictions. Of Milan I like Leao a lot, he's a phenomenal player. Against us he won't be there? Let's see, you never know...". And Pellegrini will be there? "Not tonight, but I'll be in the stands when we return. Ready to fall in love with his Inter team once again.

Photo Credit www.inter.it