Inter vice president Javier Zanetti discussed his career and the famous Treble winning season in an interview in today’s print edition of the Italian magazine Sportweek, produced by Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I was in Fiumicino, I was about to leave for Argentina with my wife Paula. The phone rings, I see a Portuguese number. ‘I don’t know’, I think. I’ll answer it. I hear a voice, in Italian, ‘I’m José Mourinho, I just signed for Inter, sorry if I don’t speak Italian very well, you’re the first person I’ve called. I’m counting on you, you’ll be my captain.’ The call ended, I looked at my wife and said, ‘Paula, something incredible has happened’.”

He touched on his wife’s reaction to what he said.

“She was speechless. As was I.”

Zanetti discussed his favourite photo from the Treble winning season under Mourinho.

“Easy, when we entered the pitch at the Bernabeu to warm up, the image of our fans, the perfect push to crown the dream. I can’t forget it.”

The Argentine touched on how the season didn’t start too well for the Nerazzurri.

“Against Lazio, in the Super Cup, we had a great game, we didn’t deserve the defeat.”

He also spoke about how Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic left in the summer to join Barcelona.

“We were in Los Angeles, after the friendly against Chelsea the news came out. It wasn’t out of the blue. Anyway, with someone leaving, Eto’o was coming to play with us. I mean, the team wasn’t depressed.”

He didn’t think that there was a distance between Ibrahimovic and the Argentinian player’s in the Inter squad.

“I don’t know. It was his choice to go to Barcelona, there wasn’t much else behind it. We had won with Ibrahimovic in previous years.”

Zanetti discussed what Mourinho had told the team during the training camp in the summer of 2009.

“During the training camp he explained the project, ‘We triumphed in Italy. Now we have to do something more. What do you say if we try to make history with this club?’.”

The Argentine spoke about how the team felt about Mourinho’s press conferences.

“He gave the best of himself, his whole personality emerged. He spoke clearly, in the locker room and outside. All we had to do was agree with him in the game.”

The Nerazzurri vice president touched on how he made Mourinho’s best starting 11.

“With his merits… I’m proud of it. I’ve improved with him.”

Zanetti touched on how he still improved at 35 under Mourinho.

“I’ve never had as much confidence in myself as I did with him as the coach. I soon realized that if he needed me, he would line me up in any role. Believe me, this for a footballer is the best.”

He revealed that the squad didn’t go to either Mourinho or President Massimo Moratti if they had a problem.

“Well do you want the truth? We didn’t go to either of them. In that team I was the captain, but others had already played the same role in the clubs or the national team. We’d see trouble and work it out between us. Even when we were fighting.”

Zanetti didn’t think the fight between the squad during the Barcelona v Inter game was a big deal.

“Why are you asking me about that fight and not another one? In that season, we fought with each other a thousand times, there were very strong personalities. Maybe it was just a way of relieving the tension.”

He moved on to talking about other important Champions League games.

“In the Champions League in Kiev we were out, at halftime Mourinho told us, ‘Guys, either we stay like this and go out or we risk it.’ We took a risk and we won. But if I’m going to point to a game, I’m going to point to Chelsea in London. The previous Saturday we had lost in Catania, there was a lot of controversy.”

The Argentine touched on how that game was the perfect response.

“Ok, can there be a better answer than the one the team gave in London? No. The game was unique.”

Zanetti highlighted how the change to a 4-2-3-1 formation helped the squad that season.

“It was a major breakthrough, for sure. But with the players who were there, I can say today we would have won anyway, with any formation.”

The Inter vice president spoke about the Coppa Italia that season.

“The semi-final in Florence. Four days earlier we had played on the same pitch, a draw in the league, Roma had overtaken us at the top of the table. We won, goals from Eto’o, we went to the final, it was yet another signal.”

He discussed the league campaign and the most important game.

“As a symbol I’d say Inter v Juve. In theory we could have lost our heads, but we didn’t do that at all.”

Zanetti moved onto talking about how Jose Mourinho made the difference with the team’s mental strength.

“That’s exactly what he put in our heads. He had a magical power, unlike any other coach, in front of him, you were convinced that you could fight the world. And that you would do it for him. José gets inside you, he never lets go.

“He did it with everyone, before every single game, whether it was Milito or Mariga, it was the same. In training you could breathe a particular air, everyone wanted to be available, everyone was at 100%. Afraid of getting hurt and missing the season finale? Well, Samuel and I have played half of the Champions League, think what I would have missed if I had received a yellow in Barcelona.”

The Argentine touched on his visit to Moratti to discuss the trophy wins.

“I went as a captain, after talking to my teammates. I ended up in the president’s office almost as if it were ‘duty’, for us at that moment what mattered was the desire for glory. But then, you know, with Moratti there was no problem. And in fact, it always happened that we started talking about football.”

He commented on how the game plan in that game against Barcelona changed.

“The game plan disappeared after Motta’s red cars. It was pure resistance. At halftime Mourinho almost didn’t speak. He just said, Guys, it’s only them who is risking anything here.”

Zanetti revealed that he didn’t miss sleep the night before the Champions League final.

“I’ve never suffered on the eve of a match in my life. I’ve always rested great. But I haven’t forgotten that night, I was in the room with Cordoba, we are both devoted to Santa Rita, which is celebrated on May 22nd. We waited for midnight, looked at each other, lit a candle together and prayed. Good thing the hotel didn’t burn down.”

The Inter vice president discussed what Mourinho said before that game.

“Mourinho reminded us of the initial project. And he told us that we were one step away from making history. It was an exciting speech. He was so convincing, Mou, that we went into the game with crazy concentration. I can tell when I see the picture of me raising the Cup.”

He touched on how he was different in that game.

“That’s not me. That’s not Zanetti, that’s not my face, that face is beyond happiness. It was a life that passed me by, in a few moments I thought of everything, of myself as a child in Argentina. That night, just that night, I played 700 games with Inter. In a Champions League final, at the Bernabeu, in short, everything done, everything perfect.”

Zanetti commented on what he knew about Mourinho’s eventual department from the Nerazzurri.

“I had guessed something, as did many of my teammates. But there was modesty in the subject matter. In fact, fear more than modesty. Fear that this thing might hurt us, deprive us of the dream we were fighting for. I remember after the game, on the field, me and Mou hugged hard. And we just said the same word to each other, thank you.”

He moved onto talking about the San Siro, full of happy fans.

“I was live on Sky, they were interviewing me after the game. They showed me pictures of the Duomo, I thought all those people that were incredible, I felt like crying. We arrived at Malpensa airport, there were fans there too. At a certain point they said, oh guys, let’s go to San Siro, they’re waiting for you. I thought it was a joke, but it was impressive.”

Zanetti spoke about two things he has kept from that game.

“The shirt, I didn’t give it to anyone. And the captain’s band, with the 700 games written on it.”

The vice president though it would have been too difficult to change the team too much that summer.

“It was too difficult to change that team at that time. And anyway, the following season, despite a change of coach, we came second in the league and won the Coppa Italia. That Inter was still hungry. Only later was the decline physiological.”

Finally, Zanetti spoke about how it feels to remember that season ten years later.

“Then it was the explosion. Today it’s pure happiness. Every now and then I stop and start thinking, I realize with the passing of time the greatness of our work. These days I’ve watched a thousand times the games of that season with my children… Wow, what have we done!”