Moratti reflects on Inter presidency
Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti is preparing to pass on the baton to Erick Thohir, but he retains plenty of fond memories from his 18 years at the helm.
Moratti may continue as president after a board meeting to discuss the structuring of the club following Thohir's takeover, but already Moratti is talking about his tenure in the past tense.
"I never imagined being president of Inter for life," he told Italian magazine Sette. "Inter for all of us has always only ever been a passion. My father [former Inter owner Angelo Moratti] told me in 1980: 'You've got to see if you can get Inter because being involved in football is something you need to do. It helps you grow, to suffer and to improve'."
Indeed, moments of suffering were mixed with the joys, and Moratti admitted he was close to giving everything up in the light of the 2006 Calciopoli scandal.
Instead, that year proved to be a turning point in the club's fortunes, as the club -- under coach Roberto Mancini -- finished top in 2006-07, having been handed the previous year’s title in a court decision.
"I could see a wall in front of me which was impenetrable," Moratti said. "I wanted to get rid of the club in 2006, but then I had a sense of responsibility and respect for what I had taken on.
"After a draw in October 2006, I thought about getting rid of him [Mancini], but it was him who told me to remain calm and that we'd win the Scudetto in style and it would be a mistake to change coach. I kept him, and we won."
That proved to be one of the best decisions Moratti made; signing Javier Zanetti, now 40, from Banfield in 1995 was another.
"He's the first player I saw and chose," Moratti said "I'd not even bought Inter when I received a video cassette of an Argentina under-20s game so I could see [Ariel] Ortega, who didn't really impress me all that much.
"Instead, strangely I was enchanted by a full-back who did things I'd never seen before. We signed him and he's still with us. Only now I've realised he comes from the planet Krypton and will play a further four or five years."
The subsequent world record signing of Brazilian great Ronaldo from Barcelona in 1997 was one that will define the Moratti era, and that was also a gamble the president is proud of.
"I signed him not only because he was strong, but because nobody thought it was possible, considering he was playing for Barcelona," he said. "It was a great piece of business. Ronaldo arrived for a big fee but, after five years, we sold him to Real Madrid for double while he opened Inter up to the world with his image."
Thohir will now further establish the Inter brand around the globe, with Moratti confident he has found the right man to carry the club forward.
"After we won the Coppa Italia in 2011, I felt that the time had come to step aside," Moratti said. "I looked for a solution that would open up new markets. It was the right thing to do."