FC Internazionale Milano captain Javier Zanetti will play his 1,000th competitive match on Wednesday when his side host AS Roma in their Coppa Italia semi-final second leg.
"I'm very proud of reaching this milestone," said the 37-year-old, who featured in the Nerazzurri's 1-0 first-leg victory. "So far I have played 33 games for [CA] Talleres, my first team, 66 with [CA] Banfield, 12 for Argentina Under-23s, 140 with the senior national team and 748 for Inter.
"Throughout my career I have always done everything with passion. Football has given me a lot and I have tried my best to give something back. I have always tried to be myself on the pitch and probably my biggest pleasure is when fans of other teams come to show me their respect."
Among those to have attained the 1,000-game mark are Paolo Maldini and Roberto Carlos, two players about whom Zanetti spoke in glowing terms. "Maldini was a key figure in world football," said Argentina's most-capped player.
"I have always had great admiration for him as a player and as a human being. I faced him in many derbies – he was tough but always very loyal. Roberto Carlos, meanwhile, was my first room-mate when I joined Inter – he was another great player."
Zanetti has enjoyed a glittering stay at Inter since 1995. In addition to winning the Scudetto five times, the veteran lifted the UEFA Cup in 1998 and the UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup last year. If Inter make the final of the Coppa Italia, 'il Pupi' will have the opportunity to hoist the trophy aloft for the fourth time in Rome on 29 May.
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