"It was the first team to open the doors of European football. I was very young when I came here and I think not many teams could have had so much faith and patience with a boy in his early 20s from the very first day like Inter did with me. I will always be grateful for that. For some reason I have always felt at home here at Inter and this is why I have never thought of leaving."
Though Zanetti is more often classified as a defender, he has played in the midfield for most of the first half of the 2008–09 season. For the last several weeks of October 2008, with Portuguese coach José Mourinho facing a midfield crisis due to injuries to key midfielders Esteban Cambiasso and Sulley Muntari, he was moved again to the midfield for the matches against Genoa and Fiorentina. Since then, Mourinho has played him in the midfield due to the preference of Maicon, Lúcio, Wálter Samuel, and Cristian Chivu in the back four.The 2009–10 season began well for Zanetti and Inter, especially after a 4–0 thrashing of crosstown rivals in the Milan derby. In the 17 October match against Genoa, he started off the counterattack that led to Inter's second goal after dispossessing a Genoa player.Inter became the first team of the season to win by a 5-goal margin. On 24 October, he reached Giacinto Facchetti's record of 476 Serie A appearances when he turned out for the match against Catania, which ended in a 2–1 win for the Nerazzurri. He also currently holds a club record of 149 consecutive appearances.Inter won the 2010 Champions League Final 2-0 against Bayern Munich on 22 May 2010. This was Zanetti's 700th appearance for Internazionale.On 20 October 2010, at 37 years and 71 days, Zanetti became the oldest player to score in the Champions League when he netted in the opening minute of Inter's 4-3 group stage win over Tottenham Hotspur at the San Siro. This was only his second ever Champions League goal; his first came in December 1998 in a match in a 2-0 win against Sturm Graz.On 19 January 2011, Zanetti overtook Inter's legend Giuseppe Bergomi in Serie A appearances.On 11 May 2011, Zanetti made his thousandth appearance as a professional footballer playing for Inter v/s Roma in the Coppa Italia Semi Final 2nd Leg.Zanetti debuted for Argentina on 16 November 1994 against Chile under coach Daniel Passarella. He has since represented his country at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. He was also part of the team that won the silver medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, USA.In the 1998 World Cup run, he neatly finished off a Juan Sebastián Verón free kick in the round of 16 match against England making the score 2–2. Argentina went on to win 4–3 on penalties but lost the quarter-final match to the Netherlands.Zanetti played for Marcelo Bielsa's Argentine national team in the 2002 World Cup. However, they finished 3rd in their group, despite winning the opening match.Zanetti celebrated his 100th cap by helping Argentina win their 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final over Mexico on 26 June 2005, in which he won the Man of the Match award.After having been part of the team during the qualification rounds, Zanetti was not called up for the 2006 FIFA World Cup by coach José Pekerman in a controversial decision. Instead, Lionel Scaloni was given a surprise selection, a move that bewildered many fans and media.With new coach Alfio Basile, Zanetti was called for a friendly match against France on 7 February 2007. He played brilliantly and helped Javier Saviola to score the only goal of the game that gave Argentina the first victory under Basile's second management.That same year, Zanetti was vice-captain of the Argentine Squad for the Copa América 2007, having previously appeared in the 1995, 1999 and the 2004 editions of the tournament.In April 2007, Zanetti was presented with the National Giuseppe Prisco Award. Since the retirement of Ayala, Zanetti has been given the captain's armband. At a World Cup qualification match against Bolivia on 17 November 2007, he became the most capped player ever for Argentina.Zanetti remained a regular under new coach Diego Maradona, although Barcelona defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano took over as captain at Maradona's request. Despite his heroics in the Champions league, Maradona failed to call up Zanetti and his Inter team-mate Esteban Cambiasso for the Argentina squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, this move was heavily criticized by football pundits from not only South-America but also Europe. Instead Ariel Garcé, 30 years old, after been called just two times in the last five years,received a shocking selection, but ultimately did not play a single minute in any world cup match.On 20 August 2010 Argentina National Team new coach Sergio Batista recalled Javier Zanetti to the Argentina National Team for a friendly against Spain played on Tuesday 7 September 2010 at the River Plate Monumental Stadium where along fellow legend Gabriel Batistuta were awarded by the Argentine Football Association for their outstanding careers with more than 48000 people standing and clapping.He was called again for the friendly against Japan in Saitama of October 2010 but widthdrew last minute due to injury.
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