It's being reported at various outlets that Javier Zanetti is hanging up his boots, ending a career that began back in 1995. I wrote about him last year, when he tore his Achilles at the age of 39. He returned this year, albeit in a diminished role thanks to injury and a new team playing style.
The team has struggled this year, as they did last year and the year before. Zanetti has been used sparingly as a substitute during this campaign, though in his late cameos he's proven to be just as effective as he ever was. But his career will end quietly, probably with a ceremonial start in the last game of the year, but without a great impact in this, his final season.
In any case, there are literally no soccer players — and hell, probably athletes — quite like Zanetti. He was never the best player, but he has a certain integrity about him that is rare, for anyone. Of course, Zanetti chose to announce his retirement with three games left in the season, precluding a real farewell victory lap, a la Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter.
He'll continue to be involved with Inter Milan, becoming a Director of the club. It's a graceful transition for a graceful player. But it's still sad. I can't even imagine watching an Inter team without Zanetti, and I've only been a fan of the team since about halfway through his tenure.
So farewell, Il Capitano, and good luck. Us Interisti will miss you.