Zanetti warms to Maltese hospitality

Thanks local Inter fans for their love and support

Perfect gentleman... Former Inter captain Javier Zanetti is strengthening his ties with Malta. Photo: Jason BorgPerfect gentleman... Former Inter captain Javier Zanetti is strengthening his ties with Malta. Photo: Jason Borg

Javier Zanetti’s new role as brand ambassador for Malta and the staging of his first kids campus at the Luxol Stadium reflect the close links the former Inter captain has forged with our country.

Given Zanetti’s status as a genuine Inter legend who commands universal respect not only on the back of his glorious career but also for his exemplary conduct on and off the pitch, his burgeoning association with Malta is indubitably a plus for our country’s image.

A devoted family man, Zanetti alluded to the warm welcome he received during his last visit here in October as one of the main reasons behind his willingness to embark on new initiatives involving Malta.

“I’m pleased to be here,” Zanetti, who brought the curtains down on his career at the end of this season, told a news conference at the McDonald’s restaurant at the Malta International Airport.

“The first time I was here, you received me with great enthusiasm. Since then, I have started a new project with the Malta Tourism Authority and that means that I will be coming here more often.

“I want to thank everyone for their hospitality and also for the opportunity to organise a campus for children here.

“Thanks to Paolo (Paul Fenech), we have launched this new project which demonstrates your sensibility and faith towards my foundation (PUPI) and that is very important for me.”

Zanetti is also relishing his new role as tourism ambassador for Malta.

“It will be an important experience,” Zanetti, who is expected to take up a prominent administrative role at Inter in the coming months, observed.

“We have been talking to serious and professional people.

“After we reached an agreement about this (MTA role), a lot of ideas have been put forward.

“We also have the campus which can lead to new opportunities.

“Yesterday (Thursday), I took part in a photo shoot, based on sports, to be able to show to the rest of the world how beautiful Malta is.”

The deal between Zanetti and the MTA was announced a few weeks ago during a news conference in Milan but discussions began several months ago.

“It was through Paolo and Sergio (Soldano),” Zanetti replied when asked how the idea to become Malta’s brand ambassador originated.

“They introduced me to officials from the Maltese tourism sector and we came to an agreement.

“My aim is to promote Malta in the best way possible.

“We have already done some work, from seven in the morning till seven in the evening, but we enjoyed it. It gave me the opportunity to visit different places of your beautiful country.”

Zanetti’s focus is now on his training camp for children at the Luxol Stadium which kicked off yesterday and comes to a close tomorrow morning.

Fun element

The 160 young participants of the first Zanetti campus are surely thrilled by the prospect of training with a world-famous footballer.

“You can always improve,” Zanetti, who yesterday made a visit to the Malta FA offices at the National Stadium, said when asked what he planned to teach the Maltese children.

“What I can transmit to the children is the passion for this beautiful sport and respect. It’s important that the kids have fun.”

Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso, his former Inter team-mate, also run a football school in Milan.

“On the few occasions we can visit the school, we try to teach the kids but the main thing is that they enjoy themselves,” Zanetti said.

In 2001, Zanetti and his wife Paula founded the Fundación PUPI, an organisation that helps the poor and disadvantaged children in Argentina.

The former Inter stalwart said that 250 children make use of the services provided at the PUPI Foundation’s headquarters on the outskirts of Buenos Aires and, at present, the organisation offers assistance to around 1,000 people.

“We are helping by trying to educate these children and give them an alternative for a better life,” Zanetti.

“It’s something that fills us with a lot of pride.”

Meanwhile, in comments to, Zanetti conveyed his gratitude to the Inter fans in Malta for their support.

“My message to the Inter fans is thank you,” Zanetti said.

“Thanks for all the love and affection and for always staying close to me and our great Inter.”

During his 19-year career with Inter, Zanetti, who turns 41 in August, won several honours, including the famous ‘tripletta’ of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in 2010.

Zanetti has made a record 145 appearances for Argentina.


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