Inter Milan and Italy defender Francesco Acerbi risks tarnishing his reputation profoundly due to an incident of alleged racial abuse.

Today’s print edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, via FCInterNews.

Prior to one week ago, Acerbi was a player who had a lot of goodwill around his name.

The former Lazio and Sassuolo defender has been enjoying a real late career renaissance since joining Inter.

And the pathway to get there was not an easy one for Acerbi.

Having had something of a journeyman early career, Acerbi joined Sassuolo at the start of the 2013-14 season.

Acerbi was already aged 25 at that time without having really established himself in Serie A.

And he was dealt a major blow in the form of a testicular cancer diagnosis during his first season with the Neroverdi.

Acerbi had to undergo treatment for that issue. But he managed to overcome cancer, and return to the pitch for Sassuolo.

Then, the Italian international spent the following four seasons playing for the Emilian club.

Acerbi’s performances for Sassuolo were excellent, and by far the most sustained run of form he had put together in his career up to that point.

This earned Acerbi a move to Lazio. And at the Biancocelesti, the defender continued his path of growth.

During three seasons in Rome, Acerbi was the linchpin of Lazio’s defense under Simone Inzaghi.

The veteran defender’s fourth season in the Italian capital was tougher. His form dropped off under Maurizio Sarri as coach.

But Acerbi found the perfect exit route – he joined his former Biancocelesti coach Inzaghi at Inter in the summer of 2021.

Inter Move Sparks Renaissance For Acerbi

Acerbi did not exactly arrive at Inter with a lot of fanfare.

On the contrary, the defender came in with a lot of fans seriously doubting the veteran Italian international’s suitability for the team.

Inter had been chasing Bremer for much of the summer, but the Brazilian instead joined bitter rivals Juventus.

And the Nerazzurri ended up scrambling to sign Acerbi on loan on the final day of the transfer window.

Considering that the player had been in underwhelming form in his final season at Lazio, many fans saw this signing as a very questionable one.

But one person always backed Acerbi’s arrival. Inzaghi had no doubts about the veteran Italian international from their time together at the Stadio Olimpico.

And it would be fair to say that Acerbi replicated his form from his first three seasons at the Biancocelesti under Inzaghi rather than that less stellar final campaign when he donned the Inter shirt.

Acerbi became the regular starter at the centre of Inter’s back three.

His formidable defending of the penalty area has been right at the heart of Inter’s most solid displays, and the veteran defender has also been unafraid to get forward.

And the 36-year-old has put in plenty of sterling performances across two seasons at the Nerazzurri.

These have included keeping some of Serie A’s elite strikers – Victor Osimhen, Olivier Giroud, and Romelu Lukaku among them – absolutely silent for ninety minutes.

And in last season’s Champions League, Acerbi shone. The veteran defender put in some of the best work of his career against Benfica’s Goncalo Ramos.

Francesco Acerbi Tarnishes Late Career Reputation Amid Alleged Racism Row

And in the final, Acerbi earned great plaudits for his performance marking Manchester City’s Erling Haaland.

The Cityzens may have won that match 1-0. But the goal didn’t come courtesy of Haaland.

The seemingly unstoppable Norwegian hardly got a kick of the ball.

The fact that these kinds of performances have come from a player well into his mid-thirties, who had a rather inauspicious career until its final years, did not escape most people’s notice.

Acerbi’s story of overcoming cancer to become a key player in a team that reached the Champions League final – and is soon to win the Serie A title – had an undeniable feel-good factor.

This also led to Acerbi finally becoming a regular for the Italian national team.

But now the 36-year-old’s place for both Inter and Italy is under a cloud of doubt.

That is because of an incident during last weekend’s Serie A match against Napoli.

Partenopei defender Juan Jesus alleges that the Inter defender used a racial slur against him.

If the investigation into the incident concludes that Acerbi did indeed use the discriminatory language, he will face a ban of at least ten matches.

And beyond that, it would be hard to see Acerbi playing for either Inter or Italy again.

The 36-year-old will not be a shining example of what players can achieve even late in their careers, playing for Italy at the Euros.

Instead, Acerbi could become a symbol of a sordid part of the game – racism – that must be eliminated.