Former Inter defender Michele Serena has given his memories of the infamous end to the 2001-02 season, in which the Nerazzurri failed to win the Scudetto thanks to a defeat at the hands of Lazio.
Speaking to Italian news outlet Il Posticipo, the former Nerazzurri man reflected on the dramatic circumstances which saw the club fall to a 4-2 loss away at the Stadio Olimpico which saw them finish third behind Roma and champions Juventus despite having come into the final matchday top of the table.
Inter had their fate entirely in their hands for the match, with a win fully guaranteeing them the title, while if they failed to win then they would be relying on slip-ups by their main rivals to still win the Scudetto.
The Bianconeri and the Giallorossi both won their matches, and Inter’s season ended in disappointment.
“I managed to fulfill my childhood dream because I have always been an Inter fan,” Serena reflected. “I’m sorry for the mistakes on 5 May – I had made a promise that I would have retired had we won, to finish my career with the Scudetto on my chest.”
Of the match, Serena said, “I had returned twenty days earlier after a long absence due to injury. I should have played against Lazio but the coach made other choices – it was the only time I lost control with a coach.”
He went on, “I had to come on in the second half, but we immediately conceded goals and then attackers came on. I don’t remember anything else. I stared into space until the ninetieth minute. It hurts me because in life certain things only happen once.”
Serena takes the blame for the failure to clinch the title on that dramatic last day along with his teammates, and lays none of the blame at the feet of manager Hector Cuper.
“The fault is ours alone,” he said, “we thought we would go to Rome and win easily. We underestimated the opponent. Lazio were fighting for a UEFA Cup position.”
“The supporters have a friendship and the whole stadium cheered for us. I had never heard the opposition fans chanting for the opponents. We had to win. Probably the whole week of preparation was wrong,” he reflected.
Serena also reflected on the departure of legendary striker Ronaldo at the end of that match, stating, “I don’t know what was behind that departure. I think the club was disappointed because they looked after, supported, and waited for Ronaldo before he left. I’m talking bout the two bad knee injuries he suffered.”