Today, 22 May, he left us. Not just any date, the most Inter-related date of all.
We remember Gigi Simoni and will miss everything about him. First and foremost, his gentlemanly way of being. His way of living, both in life and football, was never over the top. His football reflected that: it was humble, functional and capable of making the most of what he had on offer.
He arrived in the Nerazzurri dugout in 1997, together with El Fenomeno, Ronaldo. That combination, Simoni-Ronaldo, will remain in everyone's hearts forever, and not just those of Inter fans. That was a father-son relationship, one in which he showed great compassion towards a truly special footballer: Simoni loved to tell us, “I learned more from him than he did from me that season.” A phrase that brilliantly encapsulates what type of person he was.
He embodied the most genuine passion for Inter. And on 6 May 1998 he produced his greatest feat as a coach: he out-manoeuvred a great Lazio side and didn’t give them a sniff. On that magical night at the Parc des Princes, Zamorano, Zanetti and Ronaldo handed Inter their third UEFA Cup.
The world of football has lost a great coach and a wonderful person. During his playing career, he won a Coppa Italia with Napoli as well as Serie B with Genoa. As a coach, in addition to the UEFA Cup with Inter, he lifted the Anglo-Italian Cup with Cremonese and won five Serie B titles (three with Genoa, two with Pisa). In 1998 he received the Panchina d’Oro as the best Italian coach, a much-deserved recognition of his talents.
This is how we remember him: with his white hair, in our dugout, while he enjoyed the magic of Ronaldo with a smile on his face, enveloped by the fans’ affection.
Farewell Gigi, we’ll miss you.