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Who was the belonger of Inter Milan 1+8 jersey? A Chilean remembered by the Nerazzurri

Who was the belonger of Inter Milan 1+8 jersey? A Chilean remembered by the Nerazzurri

Chilean football player Ivan Luis Zamorano was the belonger of Inter Milan 1+8 jersey.Zamorano moved to Inter Milan in the summer of 1996, wearing the number 9 shirt of the Blue and Blacks. At the time, Zamorano was a notoriously effective goalscorer in South America, leading the Chilean national team to a fourth place finish in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers, with Zamorano himself being crowned the top scorer in the South American World Cup with 12 goals. However, Zamorano’s form at Inter Milan that season was not as good as it could have been due to the travelling between Italy and South America. In 31 games for Inter Milan, Zamorano ended up scoring only 7 goals for Inter.

In the summer of 1997, the president of Inter, Massimo Moratti, brought the Brazilian ‘alien’  Ronaldo to Inter Milan. Ronaldo’s favourite shirt number was the number 9, but at the time it belonged to the Chilean Zamorano, so as a junior Ronaldo didn’t dare to take it, and had to settle for the number 10 shirt left behind by Bergkamp. After the arrival of Ronaldo, however, Zamorano’s status at Inter declined. Throughout the 1997/98 season, Zamorano played only 13 league games for Inter, scoring two goals. In the end, however, Inter lost the league title race to Juventus. But this season Inter once again reached the League Cup final, this time without repeating the tragedy they suffered in last season’s Europa League final against Lazio. They won 3-0 against Lazio thanks to goals from three South Americans, Zamorano, Javier Zanetti and Ronaldo.

After the 1998 World Cup, then Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti decided to go ahead and bring a star to the team after bringing in Ronaldo the previous season but failing to win the league. This time, he brought in for Inter the Italian Roberto Baggio who had conceded a penalty in the 1994 World Cup final. As Robert Baggio wanted Ronaldo’s number 10 shirt so eagerly, the club had no choice but to ask Zamorano to give up the number 9 shirt to Ronaldo. Zamorano showed his gentlemanly side by giving up the number 9 shirt to Ronaldo and wearing the number 18 shirt himself. But Zamorano, who still had a soft spot for the number 9, added a “+” to the middle of his number 18 shirt, making it a unique 1+8 shirt in the history of Inter Milan. The story has since become one of football’s well-known stories.
However, the star-studded Inter Milan results did not improve. That season, they reached the last eight of the Champions League before being knocked out by Manchester United, but fell to eighth place in the league, which was also a bummer. Zamorano, who was over 30, returned to form and scored nine goals in the 98-99 season. Although he was only 178cm tall, his header from a height was unstoppable  for many defenders. In the 1999/2000 season, Zamorano regained his starting place at Inter Milan after the injury to the ‘alien’ Ronaldo. He played 30 games for Inter that season and scored 7 goals. Because of his seniority and popularity at Inter, Zamorano also wore the captain’s armband for a time that season. So even though Zamorano’s peak years were spent at Real Madrid, his favourite club in his heart was still Inter. As Zamorano himself said, Inter Milan made him feel at home.

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