HomeExplainerA legend of its own

A legend of its own

Published on:

They call it the San Siro, the stadium with coiled spring corner walkways that’s home to Internazionale and AC Milan, but that’s not actually its name. The 80,000-capacity arena might be situated in the San Siro district of Milan, but since 1980 it’s been called the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in honour of arguably the greatest footballer the city has ever produced.

He grew up in the image of his home city: brash, flamboyant, stylish with a kind of dignified raffishness, a twinkle in the eye. It could be argued that he was the first football celebrity in the modern sense of the word, certainly in Italy, definitely in Milan.

None of his blind drinking or womanising mattered because none of it affected his genius on the field. In a sport played in heavy boots with a heavy ball on heavy pitches, Meazza moved like the dancer he was, bewitching opponents with speed and skill. Many of his goals came at the end of long, mazy runs, leaving defenders in his wake and rounding goalkeepers to tap the ball into an empty net. It was a brand of football ahead of its time. It was football as it was meant to be played.

But how do you know about the Italian great?

Who was Giuseppe Meazza?

Born in Milan, Italy, Giuseppe “Peppino” Meazza, was an Italian footballer. He helped Italy win 2 consecutive world cups: in 1934 and in 1938. He also won the Golden Ball Award in 1934. He is easily recognized as one of the best players to ever live and among the best of his generation while some might regard him as the greatest player Italy produced. Due to his inventive style and original abilities, he was given the nickname “il genio” (the genius).

Meazza, with 33 goals, is also the second-highest scorer in the Italian national team. After scoring 216 goals he is the fourth all-time highest goal scorer in Serie A and with 338 goals, he is the third-highest Italian scorer in all competitions.

Perhaps most importantly to those naming the stadium, Meazza was in many ways the personification of Milan itself. He was born in a working-class district of the city where, when his father went off to the First World War when Meazza was five years old and never returned, his mother was left a widowed single parent working full time at her fruit and vegetable stall.

It was however, his 13 years with FC Internazionale between 1927 and 1940 that saw his greatest success, winning three Scudetti, a Coppa Italia title, and during the same period, he even won two World Cups with the Italian national team. These achievements made him the first-ever worldwide football superstar, and he was also the first player to gain a personal sponsor. Anyone who knows anything about football should consider him one of the greatest strikers in the history of the game.

He’d grown up a fan of AC Milan but they rejected him as a youngster for being too slight for the rough and tumble of 1920s football. Inter, recognising his special kind of genius, signed him instead, fed him steak and potatoes and in 1927 put him into the first team at 17.

He was still very dangerous on the field as opposing defenders and goalkeepers feared his techniques. His renowned goals are those where he would perform extreme dribbling from the midfield to the goalkeeper and then after inviting the goalkeeper to snatch the ball he would dribble past him and score a goal.

Why is the stadium named after him?

Inter shares its home ground, the San Siro Stadium (1926), with its biggest rival, AC Milan. The first game played at the San Siro was a match between the two Milan sides, with Inter beating AC Milan 6–3. The following year the great Giuseppe Meazza played his first game for Inter. His final game would come in 1947, by which time the gifted attacker had scored 287 goals for Inter in 408 matches. In 1980, a year after Meazza died, the stadium was officially renamed in his honour, though it continues to be best known as San Siro.


Giuseppe Meazza Achievements


Serie A (3)

Winner: 1929–30, 1937–38, 1939–40

Runner-Up: 1932–33, 1933–34, 1934–35

Coppa Italia (1)

Winner: 1938–39

Mitropa Cup

Runner-Up: 1933

AC Milan

Coppa Italia

Runner-Up: 1941–42


FIFA World Cup (2)

Winner: 1934, 1938

Dr Gero Cup (2)

Winner: 1927–30, 1933–35


Serie A Top Goal-scorer: 1929–30, 1935–36, 1937–38

Mitropa Cup Top Goal-scorer: 1930, 1933, 1936

FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1934

FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament: 1934


Meazza did many great things for Inter on the pitch, and had an effect as well off of it where he worked as a youth coach for Rossoneri’s rivals the Nerazzurri. In fact, it was Meazza who convinced another Inter legend to sign for the club — the young Sandro Mazzola.

Meazza, without knowing it at the time, would become the first legend of not just Inter, but also world football, with his legacy living on through the world’s greatest players today.

Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

also read