When my family immigrated to Canada from Calabria, my great uncle founded the St. Anthony’s Soccer Club, which is now a centerpiece of my local Italian community. Football (for some reason people call it soccer here) may not have been incredibly popular in my city but it is what drew that small community together. Today football is Canada’s fastest growing sport, but it has definitely not been an easy transition. For me the decision was simple. Despite the risk of general social isolation and many years spent playing hockey as a child, when it came down to it, I loved football; it was in my blood. I did not have a strong infrastructure of football fans to learn from, aside from my family. For the most part I had to take the initiative in order to find a club that suited me.
I started small. I was young, but I watched “La Nazionale” in international tournaments. The first real memories of this are from World Cup 1998 in France. I didn’t know many of the players but I knew I wanted to be Roberto Baggio. I was aware that he had missed an important penalty, but I didn’t care. After the World Cup Baggio signed for Inter, who also happened to have a fast and technical Brazilian named Ronaldo in their roster and Vieri, who had scored some important goals for gli Azzurri. I was intrigued, so I began to look for Inter Milan games to watch, which was no easy task at that time. There was no dedicated cable channel and rarely could you find highlights on television. If the Inter match was not playing on Rai at my Nonni’s house, I would have to settle for highlights played at halftime of other matches. Later on I managed to download old highlights in the Internet’s early days and well before “Youtube” and what I found changed me. We are a diverse group us Interisti, we came together due to a variety of reasons in a distinct set of conditions but I will never forget the first time I saw a pixelated and grainy image Javier Zanetti dance around a group of players and then fire the ball into the net; seeing the reaction of the Curva…. I just had to be black and blue for life. I was settled on a club but found out very quickly that this was going to be an unpopular choice. My family and most of the Italian community where I live were life long Rube supporters. I was surrounded by zebras.
At this point I began to take an interest in the club and it’s history. I learned that Internazionale was founded in 1908 when a painter (like my father), was excluded from the Milan Cricket And Football Club because he was not Italian. Being only half-Italian, this made me feel that despite your background, you were amongst friends at Inter. We were all welcome to take a place behind the squad. We each have places within a community founded on a fundamental philosophy of acceptance and internationalism in what can only be describes as a global Curva. In this I found similarities with my own values and I became certain I could support this club.
Anyone who has taken their place behind a club has done so during a particular time in the clubs history and I was no different. Some are original old school supporters, some from the era of Grande Inter, some just afterwards. I had boarded the train during a period some would call Inter’s decline; when managers came and went and trophies seemed hard to come by. I evolved as an Inter fan through turmoil and frustration, where a Scudetto was lost on the final day of the season or we fell at the hands of AC Milan in the Champions League Semi-Final. I cut my teeth as an Inter fan during a time where the clubs fan base may have been more likely to shrink.
The beginning of my relationship was one characterized by disappointment; however, as time passed things began to slowly change at Inter. A new young manager with a love for scarves showed up and the faces in the starting 11 began to change. More importantly, Inter began to win. Winning not just games, but trophies. The Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana came first but the Scudetto soon followed and then followed again, and again and again. My beloved Nerazzurri were winning; however, the team did not seem able to replicate this success in Europe and the man with the scarf said some things he could not easily take back.
This is when the fun really started. This is when Jose showed up. Mourinho’s first season at Inter brought trophies but there were still some growing pains in Europe at the hands of Manchester United. The 2009-10 season was when the Special One would acquire the final pieces of the puzzle. When a team of players became a well-moulded group of champions, and Jose would not be denied European success again. In 2009-2010 myself, along with the rest of you, Interisti, were, in the words of Scarpini, “Campioni D’Europa! Campioni D’Europa! Campioni D’Europa!” We were part of a small but prestigious group of clubs that could call themselves treble winners and we were lead there by our senatori.
The hangover from that night in Madrid seems to still be pounding in my head. A lot has happened since then. We became World Club Champions under the watchful eye of a Spanish waiter but he did not stay long. In a familiar turn of events I saw managers come and go and trophies once again began to slip through our fingers. The club switched owners and the great Massimo Moratti passed the majority stakes of the club to Erick Thohir, who was tasked at modernizing Inter. The rhetoric of a new project was name of the game and Mazzarri given the reigns but the results still did not arrive. These are trying times as an Inter supporter but I remember that things can be turned around with the right people. Perhaps it is time we found them. I am a reminded of familiar anecdote from my youth that states, “when you have lost something important to you, it can be helpful to retrace your steps”. These were some of my steps as an Interista, how did you get here?
Let us know how you came to support Inter below!