Addio! Javier Zanetti bids emotional farewell to San Siro | inside World Soccer

Inter Milan legend Javier Zanetti made his final home appearance before bidding an emotional farewell to an adoring San Siro crowd following a 4-1 win over Lazio on Saturday.

The match was a head-to-head for European qualification, but also Zanetti's final Serie A match at the San Siro after 19 years.

The 40-year-old defender has played in 851 official matches for the Nerazzurri since arriving from Argentinian club Banfield in 1995, and has become the most decorated player in the club's history, lifting 16 trophies over the course of his time in Italy.

Despite this special event, Inter coach Walter Mazzarri left Zanetti on the bench, incurring the wrath of supporters before the match.

The 145-times capped former Argentina international finally entered the match in the 52nd minute and the veteran was treated to a standing ovation when replacing Jonathan.

Zanetti entered the pitch to Europe's 1986 worldwide hit "The Final Countdown" while wearing a special armband that included all the names of his Inter teammates over the last 19 years.

In the final stages of the match, one tearful fan invaded the pitch in a Zanetti shirt and was comforted by Zanetti as he was escorted off by security.

Once the final whistle blew, the Inter staff gave a visibly-emotional Zanetti a guard of honour, before the 40-year-old took the microphone and said his thanks

"Thank you everyone," he began. "You've no idea how emotional this moment is. To say you are all fantastic is not enough.

"My only desire was to defend and honour the Inter jersey in any country all over the world. I learned to love it thanks to you. I ask you to love this club, just as I will love it forever. Amala.

"I want to thank everyone who has been close to me at any moment.

"I want to thank my wife Paula and the wonderful family we raised together. My father, who is in front of the television in Argentina right now and didn't want to come here.

"I thank my mother in the Heavens, who is certainly as happy as I am right now. I thank the Moratti family, who in all these years have shown faith in me.

"I thank President Thohir, who allows me to continue in this wonderful Inter family, which was always my dream.

"I thank my fantastic teammates, those of this season and every year before that, who showed me so much respect and affection.

"I am happy for this wonderful career wearing this jersey, which I truly love."

Zanetti will remain in Milan after the summer having accepted a role as sporting director at Inter.

He added: "Now I must do something else. I don’t know if I will do it well, but I can say that I will defend Inter the way I defended it on the field.

"Thank you for having loved me. I truly love you."



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