Never one to grab the headlines, Inter’s current squad could do worse than learning from the departed Rodrigo Palacio’s attitude
The close of the 2016-17 season night saw Inter supporters say goodbye to one of their own as Rodrigo Palacio ended his five-year stay at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.
Granted, he won’t be remembered as one of the finest footballers to ever wear the Nerazzurri shirt, limited to a bit-part role more recently, however he offered something of a rarity amongst the current squad; heart.
Suffice to say that Inter would be in a much better situation if more players were willing to give their all for the shirt like the 35-year-old has done over the past five seasons.
Palacio made his Serie A debut for Genoa in 2009 having previously plied his trade in Argentina. The forward scored 38 goals in 100 appearances for the Grifone; an impressive strike rate which brought about a €10.5 million transfer to the San Siro.
It’s easy to forget that in his first two seasons in Milan, he was the club’s top goal scorer ahead of the likes of Antonio Cassano, Diego Milito and a young Mauro Icardi.
Arguably his brightest moment with the Beneamata was the decisive goal scored in the 2013 derby victory against AC Milan, pulled off with a back-heeled shot.
Not renowned for his technical ability, he was a forward that offered pace, energy, a solid finishing ability, in addition to defensive contributions; to the point where in 2012, he put on the goalkeeping gloves to replace an injured Luca Castellazzi in a 2-0 win over Verona – and pulling off an outstanding save.
Though above all, Palacio, in 140 appearances – never stopped. Never stopped looking for possession, chasing a lost ball, making runs for his teammates and, ultimately, never stopped playing for the shirt.
What possibly makes this more admirable is that the forward endured what has been a difficult five seasons for the club, featuring more disappointment than success. Unlike many other squad members who have come and gone, Palacio always showed passion for the Nerazzurri in spite of their on-field failings. He understood the historical significance of the Biscione and the honour of wearing the club badge.
It’s a shame that the Argentinian may be remembered more for his rat-tail than his football. However, as the Curva Nord beautifully illustrated, Inter fans have always appreciated his efforts.
For his farewell match against Udinese, a banner was unveiled reading, ‘Hai sempre dimostrato di onorare la nostra maglia… Grazie di tutto Rodrigo Palacio’.
‘You have always demonstrated honour to our shirt… Thank you for everything Rodrigo Palacio.’
A fitting tribute.
One can only imagine what heights the club could have reached in recent seasons if their significant investments had been made on footballers who bled black and blue like La Trenza.