Footballing history has seen several captains who have even managed to win several titles across their careers. But Javier Zanetti, the retired Inter Milan legend, has been ahead of almost all of them in terms of both achievements and reputation. Showcasing why he was regarded as one of the best players of his generation.
Having dedicated almost his whole career to the Nerazzurri, Javier Zanetti went on to hold the tag of one of the best players of his generation. Inter has won 44 trophies since its formation, out of which Zanetti went on to lead them to 16 trophies under his captaincy.
Having had such a successful career Zanetti still holds a massive regret upon himself, as he wasn’t able to get his friend/teammate, the Brazilian legend, Adriano back onto the field after the loss of his father which he couldn’t hold.
What happened to Adriano that Zanetti held massive regret upon himself
Adriano, who blasted onto the scene back in 1999, aged just 17, in the Brazilian league’s Flamengo youth squad. After earning his promotion to the first team and signing a 2-year deal with them, a year later he still managed to earn a move across Europe to the Italian giants, Inter Milan.
For his first year in Europe, he was loaned off to another Italian team, Fiorentina, wherein he managed to bag 6 goals across his 16 appearances. But later in terms of a two-year co-ownership deal, Inter sold Adriano to Parma, wherein he managed to show his true potential and managed to shock the world with 23 goals in just 37 appearances being aged just 20 years old.
— FIFA (@FIFAcom) February 17, 2020
The main reason why he was differentiated from all other European strikers was not just his goal-scoring ability but his ability to find the net via any form of shot, being either a tap-in or even a long-range shot.
But during this impressive spell, he had a sad moment which happened in his life. On August 3rd, 2004, he lost his father which proved to host a massive turn of events across his career. After that event, he could not hold his emotions, as described by back then captain Javier Zanetti.
Zanetti told the actual story to Sports Illustrated, a sports magazine, back in 2017 that he got a phone call from Brazil that said, “Adri, dad is dead”. Zanetti expressed his emotions, “When Adriano had the phone call about the death of his father, we were in the room. He began screaming in a way that one can’t imagine.”
🗣️ Javier Zanetti: “When Adriano had the phone call about the death of his father, we were in the room. He began screaming in a way that one can’t imagine.
We failed to pull him out of depression. That’s the biggest defeat of my career. It still hurts. I was so powerless.” 💔 pic.twitter.com/kkpQDKawRA
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) November 24, 2023
He later added, “Since that day Moratti (Inter chairman) and myself (Zanetti) watched over him as he was our little brother. He kept playing football, scoring goals, and pointing to the sky dedicating them to his father.”
Following that with, “After that phone call nothing was the same. Iván Córdoba (Inter teammate) spent one night with him and said ‘Adri, you’re a mix of Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Are you aware you could become the best player ever?’ We did not succeed in pulling him out of depression.”
With this failure to get one of best his strikers in the world of football, Zanetti felt that he had failed as a captain. He described that failure as “We failed to pull him out of depression. That’s the biggest defeat of my career. It still hurts. I was so powerless.”
With this excessive amount of consumption of alcohol and losing his place in the first-team squad of Inter Milan, Adriano went back to Brazil in 2009, wherein he still managed to bag 19 goals in just 32 matches. He suffered an Achilles injury in 2011 and his career went downhill as he became highly injury prone.
With these consecutive injuries, Adriano held very short stints at Roma, Corinthians, 3rd stints at Flamengo, Atletico Paranaense, and Miami United. He later decided to finally hang up his boots in the summer of 2016. A single off-field moment can change a player’s career and life due to depression. Helping people with depression is crucial.