The Italian Almanac

Giacinto Facchetti

Italian News - September 5

Giancinto Facchetti, fondly remembered captain of the great Inter and Italy sides of the '60s and '70s, died of cancer on Monday. He was 64.

Facchetti, a stylish left-back who paved the way for the attacking defenders of today, captained the 'Grande Inter' team that won four scudetti and two European Cups. He led the Italy side to the 1968 European Championship and the 1970 World Cup Final. His 1970 side claimed a place in soccer history by winning a semi-final against West Germany that is regularly cited as one of the greatest World Cup matches ever.

Facchetti played for Italy 94 times and scored three goals, captaining the side 70 times - still a record even now that his caps tally has been beaten by Dino Zoff, Paolo Maldini and Fabio Cannavaro. He played 476 matches and scored 78 goals for Inter between 1961 and 1978 before going into management there, becoming the first ex-player chairman when owner Massimo Moratti stepped down two years ago.

A natural athlete who, even as a tall man (1.89m) could run the 100m in 11 seconds, Facchetti was scouted by legendary Inter boss Helenio Herrera and gradually imposed his authority on the team, helped by an air of unassuming nobility. "He was called the gentle giant and the nickname suited him. Despite his physical strength he was the mildest of men, on and off the field," said his former Inter and Italy team-mate Sandro Mazzola.