Stellars Club

The day “El Chino” eclipsed Ronaldo

El Chino stretched, oblivious to the media hype surrounding Ronaldo, as he was known to be a newcomer to Europe from relatively modest outfit Nacional de Montevideo. If he wanted to be recognized he would still have to prove a lot.

His shy character and good-boy image contrasted with the bouffant hair and tough-guy aesthetic of many of his team-mates such as Diego Simeone, Javier Zanetti and Pepe Bergomi. The match would gradually make clear the dominance of the home team, with several approaches to the area or a couple of close shots from Simeone and Bergomi.

After a Ronaldo’s run the referee didn’t see a clear handball inside the box by a Brescia defender. The game reached half-time and it seemed that Inter’s goal was only a matter of time. After the restart Ronaldo crashed an indirect free kick on the crossbar Cervone making clear the intentions of the Inter team for the second half. The dangerous situations were repeated and Inter coach Luigi Simone decided to bet on the young Uruguayan and put more pressure on the Brescia area.

72nd minute, Recoba comes on in place of Maurizio Ganz.

The next play something happens that wasn’t in the script. Against all odds, Hubner picked up a ball in the box and after a quick turn he put the ball into Pagliuca’s corner.

Minute 73, the premiere goes wrong: Inter 0 – Brescia 1.

“The young Charrúa must have thought to himself when he saw Brescia’s goal, but far from giving up, he encouraged his team to keep fighting, and just seven minutes later Recoba made it clear why he had signed. A ball that the Frenchman Cauet picked up on the left flank ended up at the feet of “El Chino” about 30 metres from goal near the left-hand corner. He didn’t think for a moment before unleashing such power on a left-footed shot that it almost burst into the net at the far post. Like a cannonball, the ball took an upward trajectory that the Brescia keeper could do nothing about. What Ronaldo had been trying for 80 minutes, Alvaro Recoba had just achieved in 7.

80th minute, Inter 1 – Brescia 1.

The tiredness was affecting Ronaldo, who was appearing less in the area in favor of Djorkaeff and although he was pressing Inter did not finish to define. In the 85th minute, a centred free-kick from the same distance as the goal saw Recoba confidently pick up the ball ready to take the spot-kick.

The debutant, the shy boy who had just arrived from Uruguay, picked up the ball and asked to take the free-kick himself. His team-mates, having seen the first goal, could only approve of his decision and waited as the referee placed the barrier just a metre in front of the outside line of the box. A constant murmur made the Giuseppe Meazza vibrate. Maximum expectation as “El Chino” took the race ready to launch the free kick. 30 metres out, 5 players in the wall and Cervone concentrating on the ball were not enough to stop the ball. For the opposite corner to his first goal the boy from Nacional, Alvaro “El Chino” Recoba made forget for a moment the most expensive signing of the Interist team to date.

That hot August afternoon his legend began.

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