Former Italy international Facchetti dies

September 4, 2006

MILAN, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Former Italy and Inter Milan captain Giacinto Facchetti has died, the Serie A club said on Monday.

The 64-year-old Facchetti, who was Inter's president, had been suffering from a serious illness for several weeks.

A widely respected and popular figure in the Italian game, Facchetti was captain of the 'Grande Inter' team which enjoyed great success in the 1960s.

He won four league titles and two European Cups during his career at Inter where he made 476 Serie A appearances.

Facchetti made 94 appearances for the Italian national team, 70 of them as captain, won the European Championship in 1968 and was a runner-up in the 1970 World Cup.

After working in various roles at Inter following his retirement from the game, he became club president in January 2004 - the first ex-player to take on that role at Inter.

'He was a great figure on the field and off it,' said Facchetti's former Inter and Italy team mate Sandro Mazzola.

'He was a wonderful team mate and the authorative figure in the squad. He was always ready to battle, he was a great,' added Mazzola.

Gianni Rivera, the top player for Inter's rivals AC Milan during Facchetti's best years, also paid tribute to an opponent and friend.

'He was a great person, much greater on the human level than the sporting one.

'We passed many years together and saw each other regularly when we had both finished playing. There was a very strong rapport between us,' he said.

Dino Zoff, captain of Italy's 1982 World Cup winning team said: 'I have wonderful memories of Giacinto. We played many years in the national side together.

'He was an extraordinary lad, you couldn't fail to like him,' added the ex-Juventus keeper.

'He was the captain of our generation,' said former Italy striker Gigi Riva, now an official with the Italian Football Federation.

'He was a clean face and unfortunately he has left us far too soon. We had an excellent relationship. He knew he could count on me and I knew I could count on him. I have lost a friend and a companion in many wonderful adventures,' said Riva.