most of the last decade, Javier Zanetti has been ever-present in two
of the biggest sides in world football: the Argentinian national team
and club side Inter Milan. Despite that, the inspirational and
hard-working 33-year-old suffered one of the biggest setbacks of his
career last year when he was omitted from the Albiceleste squad for
the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™.
This season, however, the player's fortunes have changed for the
better, with El Pupi having recently been crowned Serie A champion for
the second successive year and been invited back into the
national-team fold by coach Alfio Basile. Known for his tireless work
with the charitable foundation he set up for disadvantaged children in
his homeland, Zanetti found time amid the preparations for this
month's Copa America to talk exclusively and at length to FIFA.com
about the events of the last year - his triumphs in Italy, the pain of
being overlooked for German 2006, his recent recall to the national
team and his dream of helping his beloved Albiceleste win a major
Javier, it is more than 12 years since you debuted with the national
team. What changes have you noticed in that time?
Javier Zanetti: A lot of things have changed, although the desire to
play [for the Albiceleste] is exactly the same. Every one of us would
do everything in our power and make whatever sacrifice was needed to
play for the team. I can honestly say that there's nothing more
beautiful for a sportsperson that to play for his or her country,
regardless of the tournament or the location. Of course, I've seen
team-mates and coaches come and go in my time, but that sense of pride
when you pull on the shirt remains intact.
Do you think people realise the sacrifices that are involved?
The most important thing is to be at ease with oneself, play your part
when your time comes and just try to do your best for Argentina. We
know the country is always behind us, watching our every move, and
that we have to represent them as best we can. I hope people recognize