Javier Zanetti marked his 800th appearance for Inter Milan with a 2-0 victory over Romanian side Vaslui in their Europa League play-off first leg.
The Argentine joined the Inter from Banfield in 1995, taking over the captaincy in 1999, and now holds the record for most appearances for both his club and country.
Speaking to Inter’s official website, Zanetti spoke of his pride at having captained his side to victory in Europe and at achieving his latest landmark.
“I feel happy and very proud to have reached such an important milestone and to have done so at a prestigious club like Inter, even more so as captain,” he said.
“The most important thing for me is to feel like I’m helping the team. This evening (Thursday) we got a very good result but we can’t think we’re already through.
“Vaslui are a big side and they’re good going forward, so we need to be careful.”
The Inter defender has experienced many highs and lows during his 17-year stint at the Giuseppe Meazza, but he admitted he holds a couple of memories dear to his heart.
“There are lots of moments,” he said. “Perhaps two in particular: the night before I made my Inter debut, because I saw San Siro as being so far away that the thought of being a part of it was like a dream to me.
“The other one was the night before the Champions League final – the target we had been aiming for for so long and which we finally achieved with that unforgettable triumph.”
Zanetti has been encouraged by Inter’s latest signings, and believes new boss Andrea Stramaccioni can turn the side’s fortunes around after last season’s disappointing campaign.
“A new project is starting up with lots of youngsters and experienced players such as myself,” he said.
“There’s so much enthusiasm around the place and we can’t wait to get stuck into the games that matter so that we can show everyone that we’re in with a shout too.”
Zanetti, 39, will hang up his boots at the end of the season, but he is hungrier than ever to bring success back to Inter.
“My main concern will be having a big season with my team-mates, trying to do my bit for the cause at all times – especially in the difficult times,” he said.
“Come the end of the season I hope to see myself lift a trophy or two. Then there will be time to spend with my family and think about what will happen.”
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