Giacinto Facchetti (Treviglio, 18 July 1942 – Milan, 4 September 2006) was an Italian sports manager and footballer, playing as a defender.
He linked his name to Inter, of which he was a player from 1960 to 1978 – 634 games and 75 goals – and president from January 2004 to September 2006. With the Nerazzurri jersey he won nine trophies, winning both at national level with four championships and one Coppa Italia and at international level with two Champions” Cups and two Intercontinental Cups. Under his presidency, Inter won a championship, two Italian Cups and two Italian Super Cups.
Captain of the Italian national team from 1966 to 1977, he participated in the victorious edition of the 1968 European Championship, Italy”s first success in the competition. He played in three world championships (in 1971 he was the recordman for matches played in the Azzurri jersey, before being surpassed by Dino Zoff.
Considered an innovator of the role for his constant participation in the attacking game, he is considered one of the best players in the history of Italian soccer. He occupies the 90th position in the special ranking of the best footballers of the 20th century published by World Soccer magazine. In 2004 he was included in the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living players compiled by Pelé and FIFA on the occasion of the centenary of its founding, while in 2006 he was awarded the posthumous Presidential Award by the same Federation for his contribution to the world of soccer both as a player and as a manager. In 2018, France Football magazine included him in the list of the 100 most important players in the history of the World Cup, recalling his performance in the 1970 edition.
Born in Treviglio (BG), from a railwayman father and a housewife mother, he chose to live in Cassano d”Adda (MI). He was tied to Giovanna, by whom he had four children: Barbara (who became head of the Italian women”s national team at the 2019 World Cup), Vera, Gianfelice and Luca. At the beginning of his militancy in Inter, he was renamed Cipe, a nickname that accompanied him throughout his life: the most widespread opinion is that this nickname was born as a result of a mistake made by Helenio Herrera, who mispronounced Facchetti”s surname as Cipelletti; however, there are those who believe that its origin should be attributed to the goalkeeper Lorenzo Buffon, and not to the Argentine coach.
He died on September 4, 2006 after a long illness. Buried in the cemetery of Treviglio, his name is inscribed in the Famedio of the monumental cemetery of Milan. The funeral, celebrated in the Basilica of Sant”Ambrogio in Milan by the Bishop of Lodi, Giuseppe Merisi, a fellow countryman of Facchetti, was attended by many sports and political authorities as well as ordinary people.
Left fullback with strong offensive propensities, Facchetti showed off these qualities since his youth at Inter, coached by Giuseppe Meazza, being able to confirm them also once he arrived in Serie A: in the highest Italian championship he scored 59 goals (all on action), according to the journalist Gianni Mura, among the reasons of his prolificacy there was the tendency to converge towards the center to look for the goal, unusual feature even for full-backs.
His confidence with the offensive action was such that Helenio Herrera lined him up in some occasions as a center forward, but then he realized that the player was at his best as a fluidifier: this was also due to his ability in the defensive phase, which at the end of his career, together with his skill in the air game, allowed him to adapt to the roles of stopper and free. Facchetti was also endowed with remarkable technical, physical and athletic qualities: in 1958 he won in Bergamo the 100 meters student championships with a time of 11″.
The journalist Gianni Brera nicknamed him Giacinto Magno, in order to underline the high stature and the authority gained in the field.
After moving his first steps in the soccer team of his hometown, Zanconti, in 1957 he entered the youth sector of Trevigliese, playing in the role of forward. He was discovered by Helenio Herrera who brought him to Inter for the end of the 1960-1961 season, transforming him into an attacking full-back, the first of its kind together with Vittorio Calvani (his destiny is linked to Calvani: on June 14th 1961 Inter played a friendly match against Fluminense, and Facchetti, who impressed, was lined up in place of Calvani because the latter was struggling with an annoying callus.
His debut in Serie A took place on May 21, 1961, in a Roma-Inter match that ended with the Nerazzurri winning 2-0. Facchetti represented Inter until 1978 winning the Champions Cup in 1964 and 1965 and the Italian championship in 1963, 1965, 1966 and 1971. With the Nerazzurri team he also won two Intercontinental Cups and one Coppa Italia. With Inter in 634 games he scored 75 goals: in 1965-1966 he was the first defender to score 10 goals in the Italian championship.
He played his last match on May 7, 1978, at the age of 36, in Inter-Foggia (2-1): the goal of the guests came from an own goal of his. On June 8, even though he did not play in the final match against Napoli (Facchetti was in Argentina to accompany the Italian expedition to the world championships), he won the last trophy of his career, the Coppa Italia.
He proved to be very correct on the field, being expelled only once for applauding the match director Vannucchi in Inter-Fiorentina (1-0) on April 13, 1975.
Facchetti was summoned for the first time in the national team by the technical commissioner Edmondo Fabbri, and made his debut on March 27, 1963, at the age of 20, in the match valid for the qualifications for the 1964 European Championship played in Istanbul against Turkey in which Italy won 1-0.
He immediately became a starter, and scored his first goal in the national team on November 4, 1964 in the match Italy-Finland (6-1) played in Genoa. He participated in the 1966 world championship in England, where Italy was eliminated in the first round. After the world championship, at only 24 years old, he inherited the captain”s armband from Sandro Salvadore.
With the selector Ferruccio Valcareggi he won as captain the 1968 European Championship, raising the Henri Delaunay Cup on June 10, 1968 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome after the repetition of the final won 2-0 against Yugoslavia.
It participated therefore to the championship of the world 1970 where, after the historical semifinal life for 4-3 on the West Germany, Italy surrendered only to the Brazil of Pelé in the final disputed to the stadium Azteca of City of the Mexico.
Facchetti also took part as a starter in the 1974 World Championship in West Germany, where the Azzurri, vice-champions of the world, were eliminated in the first round. Subsequently, despite the generational change that took place under the management of Fulvio Bernardini and Enzo Bearzot, Facchetti kept his position and participated in both the qualifications for the 1976 European Championship and the 1978 World Championship.
However in May 1978, little before the final phase of the mundial in Argentina, he communicated to Bearzot his intention not to participate to the rainbow review, since he didn”t feel at the best physically being back from an injury; with great team spirit Facchetti participated however to the Italian expedition as captain not player. He closed with 94 presences and 3 goals in the national team, setting at that time the record of presences, and his last game in the national team was the one played on November 16, 1977 at Wembley against England.
With Tarcisio Burgnich, Facchetti formed the longest-lasting defensive duo in the history of the national team: eleven years, from 1963 to 1974; together they played 58 matches. He was also the longest-serving captain of the national team (eleven years, from 1966 to 1977) and the first Azzurri player to play two consecutive World Cups as captain (Mexico 1970 and West Germany 1974).
Immediately after his farewell to soccer, he took part with the Italian national team in the 1978 World Championship in Argentina, formally as an accompanying manager, given the esteem and closeness with the technical commissioner and the players who had been his teammates until a few weeks before.
After becoming Inter”s representative abroad, he became vice-president of Atalanta in 1980, and then returned to Milan in 1995, coinciding with the beginning of Massimo Moratti”s presidency, first as general manager and then as sports director.
Appointed vice-president of the Beneamata in November 2001, shortly before the death of Giuseppe Prisco, assumed the presidential office in January 2004 after the resignation of Moratti. He was the only former Nerazzurri player to hold this managerial position,
During the period of his presidency, he won one Scudetto (assigned to the Interisti for the sentences of Calciopoli), two Italian Cups and as many Italian Super Cups.
The role of Facchetti within the events of Calciopoli has remained the object of debate. President in the summer of 2006 of the Inter club that benefited from the decisions of sports justice, however, in July 2011 the federal prosecutor Stefano Palazzi presented a report on the Calciopoli bis investigation, originating from facts that emerged in the relative criminal proceedings in Naples and at the time judged not relevant in the sports trial five years earlier, in which, among other things, Facchetti was charged with violation of article 6 of the then Sports Justice Code, constituting an offence consisting of “a consolidated network of relationships, of a non-regulatory nature, aimed at altering the principles of impartiality and independence of the refereeing sector”, actions “certainly aimed at ensuring an advantage in the standings for Inter”.
The fact that the statute of limitations had passed on the possible acts committed induced Palazzi to declare the impossibility of proceeding and verify the accusations. In the immediate future, the figure of Facchetti, who had passed away in the meantime, was defended first and foremost by Massimo Moratti – “without a trial we can say what we want but I do not accept it and Inter does not accept it. Considering Facchetti as in the accusations of the Federal Prosecutor”s Office is offensive, serious and stupid” – as well as by teammates, adversaries and exponents of the Italian public debate.
On the merits of the affair, already in 2010, former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi, among those convicted in Calciopoli, had publicly accused Facchetti of similar illicit conduct: Sued for defamation by Gianfelice Facchetti, Giacinto”s son, in 2015 the Milan court acquitted Moggi in the first instance, pointing out, in the motivations, that it had found “with certainty a good truthfulness” in his statements and had also found the existence of “a sort of lobbying intervention by the then president of Inter towards the refereeing class significant of a relationship of an amicable type peaks not exactly commendable”. The ruling was upheld on appeal in 2018 and became final the following year.
Following his death, Inter decided to retire the number three jersey. A few weeks later, Facchetti was awarded the posthumous Presidential Award by the International Football Federation (FIFA) for his contribution to the world of soccer both as a player and a manager.
To pay homage to the great ethical and sporting values expressed during an entire career, the Lega Nazionale Professionisti has decided to name the Primavera Championship after him, while La Gazzetta dello Sport has instituted an international award of the same name to promote and reward behaviour based on correctness and values.
Among the many streets named after him throughout the country, the first was that of the town of Monte San Vito, in the province of Ancona, in the presence of his wife Giovanna and son Gianfelice, Bedy Moratti representing the family, Roberto Mancini”s parents and the highest local authorities. A square was dedicated to him in Cesano Maderno while in Lettomanoppello the Belvedere Facchetti was named after him. Other streets and numerous sports facilities throughout Italy bear his name; among them, in addition to the Palazzetto dello Sport “PalaFacchetti”, in his hometown of Treviglio, also in Matera, Cassano d”Adda, Trezzano sul Naviglio, Rosolini, Solaro.
Facchetti inspired the character of Giacinto in Azzurro tenebra (1977), a novel by Giovanni Arpino dedicated to the adventure of the Italian national team at the 1974 World Championship. Another important literary reference is found in Il prete lungo (1971), a story by Luciano Bianciardi in which the Nerazzurri player is cited as an example of moral rectitude.
At the 64th Venice International Film Festival in 2007 was screened Il Capitano, a documentary made by Alberto D”Onofrio for the television program La Storia siamo noi of Rai.
On August 26, 2011 was published by the group Stadio the single Gaetano and Giacinto, dedicated to two great figures of Italian soccer, such as Gaetano Scirea and Giacinto Facchetti.
Chronology of presences and goals in national team