Argentina’s round of 16 battle of the FIFA World Cup 2022
against Australia witnessed Lionel Messi’s 1000th career match.
However, Messi is not the first Argentine professional footballer to achieve
the feat. On May 11, 2011, Javier Zanetti became the first player from the Latin
American country to play 1,000 matches.

Who is Javier Zanetti?

Javier Zanetti is a former professional football player
playing as a defender and Midfielder, who represented Argentina at the
international level and mainly Inter Milan in club-level football. He was born
on August 10, 1973, in Buenos Aires. Zanetti was brought up in a humble
background, with his father Rodolfo Zanetti being a bricklayer and his mother
Violeta Bonzzola being a cleaner.

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Zanetti played for clubs Talleres and Banfield before moving on to Inter Milan. He made his debut for Milan on 27 August 1995. He had a long
stint at the club which saw him represent it for 19 years in 858 matches and
became the club’s longest-tenured player.

He also served as a long-time captain
of the club which saw him, captain, during 15 of the 16 titles that he won while at Inter. Thus, he was nicknamed The Captain. After 2006, he was slowly
repositioned and converted from a defender to a midfielder.

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Zanetti made his national senior debut for Argentina on 16
November 1994. He then played in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups representing the
Albicelestes. In 2006 he was controversially left out of the team and was once
again shown the door for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa during Diego
’s tenure as coach of the national side. Zanetti, who played in 145
matches overall for Argentina stood a great chance of touching 150 games had he
played the World Cup in 2010.

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He was an extremely quick player with remarkable stamina and the ability to run from end to end and was thus humourously called “The Tractor”.

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In 1999 he married his childhood sweetheart and longtime
girlfriend, Paula de la Fuente.