Just look at this photo. There’s nothing in this world so cruel yet sweet for those who love football. A pitch drowning in rain and mud, a stadium full of fans, a night of football under the stars with dark clouds in the Milanese sky pouring down all night long: was it all a sign of good luck? Judging by the result, you’d have to say yes.
This photo was taken on 27 May 1965. Jair da Costa hadn’t even turned 25. Our big man lying on the soaking wet grass of San Siro, having just shot with his right and fallen to the floor. His head raised up, his eyes eagerly following the ball as it rolled towards Costa Pereira, Benfica’s goalkeeper, who was preparing for a routine stop. He kneels down, but the ball slips through his hands, between his legs, and into the net. GOAL FOR INTER!
This was the story of how on 27 May 1965, Jair da Costa gifted Inter their second European Cup in history. The first had come exactly a year before, with the final won against Real Madrid in Vienna. This time around it was in Milan at San Siro, and the Nerazzurri were up against Eusebio’s Benfica. But there was no need to worry, for it was the magician Helenio Herrera’s Grande Inter: Sarti, Burgnich, Facchetti, Bedin, Guarneri, Picchi, Jair, Peirò, Mazzola, Suarez, Corso.
Our big man was a true arrow. He used to fly down the wings with his huge strides. He had arrived in Italy from São Paulo in 1962: he didn’t know anything about Milan, bemused the first time he saw snow. He would go on to leave Inter ten years later, playing 260 games and scoring 69 goals for the Club, including that legendary finish against Benfica. An endless list of honours: four Scudetti, two European Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and even a World Cup trophy in 1962 (where he was in the Brazil squad but never made an appearance due to the legendary Garrincha’s presence in the side).
Today, on 9 July, Jair da Costa celebrates his 80th birthday. A very happy birthday from Nerazzurri fans all over the world, along with a big thank you for everything he did for Inter, especially that goal in the rain at San Siro!