World Cup Countdown: 19 Weeks to Go – Remembering the ‘Italian Stallion’ Giuseppe Meazza

Italian football has always had its fair share of legends. In recent years, the Azzurri have enjoyed the talents of players like Alessandro Del Piero, Andrea Pirlo, Paolo Maldini and Gianluigi Buffon to name but a few. However, a name that is seldom mentioned in the 21st Century is that of Giuseppe Meazza: the pioneer of the Italian game.

The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, commonly known as San Siro, is named after the Italian forward who built a legacy at Inter Milan before moving to AC Milan followed by Juventus. A young Giuseppe was discouraged from playing football, as its modern riches held no place in 1920s Italy. Football was not perceived to be a worthwhile career, only a pastime that served no financial purpose.

However, Meazza continued with his love for football and would play on the street with a ball made of rags, using only his bare feet. His team of choice was AC Milan, and while the Rossoneri liked his natural footballing talent, they turned down the youngster due to his skinny build. City neighbours Inter were more forgiving towards Meazza’s frame, as he was quickly signed.

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Meazza’s time at Inter was the highlight of his illustrious career, scoring an incredible 241 goals in 348 games. His footballing genius was not only limited to club level, with the Inter striker maintaining his outstanding goal-scoring trend by bagging 33 goals in 53 appearances for Italy. This was a goalscoring feat that would not be bettered until 1973, when Gigi Riva scored his 34th goal for the Italian national side. Despite the passing of more than five decades since Meazza’s record being broken, ‘Peppe’ Meazza still holds second place.

His skill on the ball would make Lionel Messi blush, as the Italian’s low centre of gravity combined with an incredible agility meant that Meazza could dance through defences whenever he wanted. 

Despite his short stature, Meazza was also brilliant in the air, as well as having immense vision and a near-perfect passing ability. While known for his excellent scoring record at both club and international level, Meazza should also be lauded for the amount of goals he provided for his teammates too.

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Even by today’s standards, Meazza could easily be described as one of the best players in the game. However, his off-field antics sometimes hindered his performance. He had a weakness for several vices which meant he would often visit brothels the night before a match, where he would drink heavily. Astoundingly, he was the only Inter player at that time who was permitted to smoke.

His love of alcohol and women landed the striker in hot water on multiple occasions, but his huge talent meant that he could get away with it all. On one occasion, after a night of heavy drinking and sex, Meazza was found by two Inter officials who were told to look for him as he hadn’t shown up to match day preparations. 

The staff found Meazza snoring in bed, from which they had to drag him to the stadium where Inter would later play bitter rivals Juventus. This didn’t stop Meazza from scoring a brace however, as he was named Man of The Match in a magnificent display. Clearly, hangovers didn’t affect the footballing legend.

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After thirteen years with Internazionale, Meazza signed for his boyhood team, AC Milan, where he enjoyed a brief stint of two years. Following his time at Milan, Meazza would sign for fellow Italian giants Juventus, where he then went to Varese and Atalanta. Towards the end of his career, Meazza would then return to where it all started at Inter, but it was his first stint at the Nerazzurri where the striker played his best football.

During this time, Meazza won three Scudetti, a Coppa Italia and two World Cups with Italy. These incredible achievements made Meazza a footballing god to people all across Italy, and he was even the first ever player to gain a personal sponsor. 

When the time came to hang up his boots, Meazza decided that he would enter the world of managing, where he would manage the club he had achieved such success at after a year managing Atalanta. The former striker even managed Besiktas in Turkey, before returning to Italy to coach Pro Patria and the Italian national side. Like in his playing days, Meazza’s managerial career also ended at Inter, a club he gave so much to, and a club that remembers Meazza as their greatest ever player.

Without doubt, Meazza’s revolutionary approach to football made him the greatest of his era, and he should be remembered as one of the best forwards the world has ever seen. His legacy for Italian football is immense, and as aforementioned, football has given him the honour of being the name of one of sport’s most iconic venues. 

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Inter Challenge Premier League Trio in Race for Lazio Contract Rebel De Vrij

Lazio defender ?Stefan de Vrij is subject to interest from three Premier League clubs, as well as Serie A giants Inter.

Liverpool have been widely linked with a move for 26-year-old de Vrij, with Klopp reportedly seeing him as a long-term defensive partner for £75m signing Virgil van Dijk. 

However, Italian outlet Il Messaggero (via TalkSPORT) report that they now face competition from Chelsea and Manchester United for the defender’s signature.

Dutch defender de Vrij is out of contract with Lazio at the end of the season, and ?was been given permission to leave the club from Lazio president Claudio Lotito back in December. Such news has alerted several teams to his potential availability on a free transfer in the summer.

There has been plenty of confusion in the media regarding de Vrij’s contract situation. Conflicting reports have emerged over the past few months suggesting he has or has not signed a new contract with the Serie A club.

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The aforementioned Italian report suggest that it is likely the defender will put pen to paper on a new contract with Lazio before the summer, although such claims have previously been disputed by other outlets.

There is further interest in the defender, with Mundo Deportivo (via ?Football Italia) claiming that Inter have already ‘opened talks‘ with Lazio over a move for de Vrij. Inter are reportedly willing to ‘sell their best players’ this summer, with Stefan de Vrij seen as the ideal replacement for Slovakian defender Milan Škriniar.

After making 151 appearances for Dutch outfit Feyenoord, 6ft 2in de Vrij joined Lazio in 2014, for whom he has made a further 86 appearances. He has also picked up 31 caps for his country.


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Ronaldo Hints Dip in Form for Inter Star Mauro Icardi Is Due to Real Madrid Interest

?Brazil legend and former Inter star Ronaldo has suggested that Mauro Icardi has been caught in two minds following a ?reported offer from Spanish giants Real Madrid, as the 24-year-old has been a been a shadow of his former self in recent weeks.

The Argentina international has mirrored Inter’s dip in form as one goal in his last five games have been matched by nine games without a win for the Serie A side, plummeting the Nerazurri to fourth place and out of contention for the Scudetto.

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The 24-year-old has regularly affirmed his loyalty to Inter but – having been subject to rumours of interest from Madrid and elsewhere in the last year – Icardi could have had his head turned by the prospect of moving abroad. 

Ronaldo told Sky Sports Italia, via ?Football Italia: “I’m convinced that Icardi is happy at Inter, as was I happy at Inter too, even though I suffered from a lot of injuries and the goodbye wasn’t the one I wanted.

“I don’t know much about the transfer market, but I think a lot of clubs want Icardi. Going to Real  is every footballer’s dream, but I don’t know if it is his.”

The uncertainty surrounding Icardi’s form and future will do little to ease the worries coming out of Inter’s camp who are a measly point ahead of fifth-placed Roma in a congested race to a Champions League berth come the end of the season – a competition the Italian side have not been a part of since season 2011/12. 

It is a stark contrast to the situation Inter found themselves at the start of the season as a 16-game unbeaten streak had many dreaming of the title, including Ronaldo.

He added: “It seemed like it was going to be our year. Seriously, you have to be on the inside to evaluate but looking at the league from the outside this really seemed like the right year.

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“The fans were having fun for a while – even if they always want results first – and I was really content with the way things were going. Compared to last year Inter have improved and they’ll improve again, so they have to do everything to return to the Champions League.

“They’ve been missing from it for too long and it’s a necessary step to relaunch, in Italy and especially in Europe.

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“You can’t question everything, every time, every year: the players, the Coach. You have to believe in a project, you have to give it time to work.”

Inter’s next opportunity to end their winless streak comes against Bologna on Sunday, three points which could prove all the difference as Roma host the league’s cellar dwellers on the same evening. 


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Colombian Midfielder Fredy Guarin Pleads for Inter to Rescue Him From Chinese Super League Hell

?Shanghai Shenhua midfielder Fredy Guarin has begged ?Inter Milan to sign him back after leaving for the Chinese Super League in 2016.

The Colombian international reportedly left the Nerazzurri for a staggering €10m a season, but regrets his choice two years on and claims “I’d accept a fith of my current salary” to return to Serie A.

Speaking to ?Gazzetta dello Sport the 31-year-old revealed: “I talked about it with [sporting director Piero] Ausilio last year but financial conditions prevented it.

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“I’d go back right away, it’s my biggest wish. Money doesn’t interest me, I’d accept earning much less. We talked about it already last summer, there was [Frank] de Boer and a lot of confusion, but I wanted to come back at all costs.”

The veteran midfielder admits he left for financial reasons and is unfulfilled in China, despite his current side’s success:
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“On a personal level it’s going well, I have two years on my contract, we’ve qualified for the Asian Champions League and won the Chinese Cup. I miss Italy and Inter.

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“Why did I leave? For Financial Fair Play. The directors were clear, they told me: ‘You and Icardi are the only ones with an important economic value, we need money.’

“Nobody forced me, of course, but my transfer was important for the balance sheet. It was the only positive aspect of my departure.”


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Inter Insert £96m Release Clause in Lautaro Martinez Contract After Winning Race to Sign Wonderkid

?Inter Milan have reportedly won the race to land talented attacker Lautaro Martinez ahead of other interested parties such as Arsenal.

Italian Sky Sports journalist Fabrizio Romano revealed on Twitter that Martinez was in Milan to finalise the terms of his contract with I Nerazzurri, with a release clause fee of £96m expected to be inserted into his contract.

??As previously reported, the deal will set Inter back around £17m – a decent sized fee for current club Racing Club in his Argentinian homeland.

The likes of Real Madrid and Roma had also been linked with possible swoops for the highly-rated striker, but Inter appear to have snuck in underneath all of their noses to poach the 20-year-old for themselves.

Martinez is expected to pen a five-year deal with the Serie A side upon completing his switch from South America to Europe and, given how he has hit the ground running already this season, it’s no surprise to see him in such hot demand.

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The forward has plundered seven goals in eight appearances for Racing Club already this term – an even more frightening statistic given that he spent the opening weeks of the campaign out injured with a broken metatarsal.

Martinez has also produced on the international stage for his nation of birth, with seven goals registered in 13 Under-20 caps to further underline just how talented he truly is.

Martinez was rumoured to be on the verge of a sensational move to Atletico Madrid in December, with talks at an advanced stage before the plug was seemingly pulled on the deal.

It now seems likely that he will ply his trade in Italy’s top flight, and if Inter can secure his signature on an official basis then it will be a huge coup for Luciano Spalletti’s men given the level of interest in Martinez.

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Martinez would link up with compatriot Mauro Icardi at Inter if he signs on the dotted line, and no doubt he will learn a thing or two from the prolific striker.

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