ITALY'S ROCK

T arcisio Burgnich was on born 25 April 1939 in the city of Udine (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World War). Burgnich had Croatian roots from his father's side but there was never any question of him playing for any other nation other than Italy. He started his love affair with the game by playing in the Udinese youth teams with future national teammate Dino Zoff.

EARLY CAREER

UNDERSTUDY AT UDINESE

1959/1960 Season

Burgnich made his debut with the Friulians at the age of 20 on the penultimate day of the 1958-1959 season on 2 June 1959, during the 7-0 defeat against Milan. Milan were already mathematically champions of Italy and possessed players such as Lorenzo Buffon, Cesare Maldini and Nils Liedholm. Not deployed the following Sunday, he was officially a squad player the following season (receiving a salary of 50,000 lire per month) in which he played 7 games out of 34 at a time when substitutions were not allowed. It was tough going for Udinese and they were saved from relegation after the play-offs with Lecco and Bari. Despite the limited game time, Burgnich's performances caught the eye of the national selectors and he was selected to be part of the Italian team which was to feature at the 1960 Olympics.

SHORT-LIVED JOY AT JUVENTUS

1960/1961 Season

On the recommendation of Giampiero Boniperti, Burgnich was bought by Juventus, and was fast gaining a reputation as an excellent athlete, exemplary professional and determined defender. The reputation would prove to be a heavy burden to live upto and under new coach Gunnar Gren, Burgnich made only 13 appearances and was considered more of a squad player. He was considered to be incompatible with Juventus' attacking style of football and there were rumours of an alleged squint which potentially threatened his long-term career.

Burgnich was restless and troubled by the growing criticism but he learnt a valuable lesson in what it took to succeed in a long and arduous league title campaign. Juventus initially struggled, at one stage being 6th in the table with Inter flying under new manager Helenio Herrera but in the second half of the season, their fortunes began to reverse with the Bianconeri winning 5 games in a row whilst Inter began to suffer a series of consecutive defeats. A title showdown which was controversially replayed due to a fan invasion, despite Inter being 2-0 up would prove to be decisive as Juve won the replay and never looked back.

SUCCESSFUL STINT AT PALERMO

1961/1962 Season

Newly promoted Palermo had been pushing for a move for the young Burgnich only to receive a formal rejection from the officials at the 'Old Lady'. Yet by the end of the 1960/61 season, Juventus had transfer listed Burgnich and were happy to accept another proposal from Palermo. Giorgio Sereni was initially seen as the pillar of the Palermo defence in their promotion campaign but after he suffered a serious injury, the opportunity was presented for Burgnich to make a name for himself.

His tenacious performances at the heart of the Palermo defence were pivotal in pushing the Rosanero to new heights and they managed to secure eighth place in Serie A. He also managed to score a goal, his first with Palermo and in Serie A, via a free kick in the prestigious away victory 2-4 against Juventus on February 18, 1962, with a powerful drive. For the first time in his career Burgnich was given an undisputed starting role and he was thriving...but once again he'd be on the move....

JOINS LE GRANDE INTER

Role at Inter

After a season at Palermo, Helenio Herrera convinced Burgnich to come to Inter. In what was to become Herrera's infamous 'catenaccio' system, Burgnich was to be the man on the right of the defensive trident enabling Armando Picchi aka 'The Wizard' to operate more centrally as a libero and Giacinto Facchettti on the left. His role was that of a designated 'marker' who would go toe to toe with the most dangerous player from the opposition. In contrast the more slender and taller Facchetti was given a free role to bomb down the left and wreak havoc in the opposing third, joining in with the likes of Sandro Mazzola , Jair da Costa , Luis Suárez and Mario Corso. .

Herrera's Training Methods

Burgnich was taken aback with how well Herrera prepared the team with the level of tactical sophistication beyond anything he had been exposed to. At Juventus, players were made to perform laps, then passing drills and finally some tactical preparation for the opposition at hand, whereas at Inter every training session was with a ball. The individual technique, the passes, the tactical system, everything was being worked at the same time - put simply Il Mago was applying Mourinho's methods in the sixties.

The level of professionalism was also ahead of its time. Whilst at previous clubs, players would train Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, Thursday before meeting for a pre-match meal on Sunday before the game - with Herrera, the training sessions were planned every day, food was scheduled, and above all he invented what became known as the ritiro - no-nonsense training camps where players were locked up in hotels for days and swapped family and friends for running and tactical drilling.

1962/1963 Season

Despite the impressive preparation, Inter suffered a poor start to the season. Herrera was still miserable from his short stint at the helm of Spain in the 1962 World Cup and agitated by rumours that his role at Inter was also at risk. In order to inject some momentum into a flagging side, Facchetti and Mazzola were given more prominent roles in the first team and Suarez was withdrawn from his attacking midfielder role in order to become more of a regista and control the game in midfield.

The signing of Jair also proved key in giving balance down the right flank as Burgnich was very defensive in nature. By early January Inter moved into second place, a point behind Juventus. Eventually Inter ended with 49 points, four over Juventus and six over Milan. It was Burgnich's second Scudetto but the first he had earnt as a genuine first team regular.having made 31 appearances.

PEAK PHASE

BEATING THE 'GALACTICO'S OF REAL'

1963/1964 Season

Inter made minimal changes in personnel going into the 1963/1964 campaign with only Buffon being replaced by Sarti. Fighting on two fronts, Burgnich made his debut in the European Cup, due to the Inter's Scudetto win last year. Inter's first match was in Everton, resulting in a goalless draw. Jair, in the return leg became the first scorer of the club in this competition. Domestically, the Nerazzurri faced a tense three way fight for the title with derby rivals AC Milan and surprise package Bologna who also proved that they had the stamina for the fight despite being docked 3 points on the back of a doping scandal. Eventually it came down to a historic title playoff between Bologna and Inter, in which Bernardini successfully set his team up to frustrate Facchetti and Suarez, the former scoring an own goal as Bologna won 2-0.

On the European front, Inter beat in order: Monaco (4–1 aggregate), Partizan Belgrade (4–1) and Borussia Dortmund (4–2). In the final, Inter faced off with Real Madrid.. a team whom Suarez and Herrera, being former stalwarts of Barcelona wanted to beat very badly. Although it was an ageing Real Madrid side, with the likes of Puskas and Di Stefano, about to turn 40 years old it would prove no easy task. Madrid were in the ascendancy, dominating possession from the off but their usual outlet Gento was being marked so well by Burgnich - they were forced to direct the majority of possession to the inexperienced Amancio.

Amancio did give Facchetti a torrid time but didn't quite have the clinical end product. Against the run of play near the end of the first half, Sandro Mazzola scored with a shot from 25 metres. After that the game was perfectly set up for Inter and by the end, after a series of counters, Mazzola sealed the game with his second and the final ended 3–1.

During the season, Burgnich's achievements drew the attention of Edmondo Fabbri, who called La Roccia for the first time for the senior Italian squad, against the USSR and from that moment he no longer left the number two shirt. Furthermore with such an accomplished display against a world-class foe during the European Cup final, Burgnich cemented his burgeoning reputation as a man-marker of great potential.

BACK TO BACK EUROPEAN AND WORLD CHAMPIONS

1964/1965 Season

Due to the European achievement in 1963–64 season, Inter debuted in the Intercontinental Cup facing off with Independiente. After two legs, the aggregate score resulted in a draw; the cup was awarded by a tie-breaker, in which Inter won 1–0 at extra time (Burgnich was not selected for the decisive tie) to secure their first 'World Title'. Back on the domestic scene, Milan had stormed into the lead, eager to make amends for the previous season and by January had established seven point lead. Inter then produced eight consecutive victories (including a crushing 5-2 win in the Milanese derby) which took them to the top. Milan did briefly return to the top after some nervous performances by the Nerazzurri but after Milan's draw against Roma - Inter won.

In the European Cup, Inter scraped through into the final after a controversial win on aggregate against Liverpool. Having lost the first leg 3-1, Inter used the home crowd as their 12th man and arguably the referee as their 13th, after a series of strange calls led to 2 potentially illegitimate goals being given for the home side. With the game in the balance and Burgnich and Picci holding the fort at the back, Facchetti gallivanted forward and struck an iconic goal which would seal Inter's place in the final.

Their next opponent was Eusebio's Benfica who had won back to back European Cups at the outset of the decade and were seeking to rubber-stamp their status as the 'Team of the Decade'. With Guttmann no longer at the helm, Herrera was able to take advantage tactically and with the pitch severely waterlogged, it played into Inter's hands. Benfica couldn't string two passes together and were unable to adapt to the alien surface, whilst Inter thrived in the conditions with Burgnich having one of the easiest nights of his career from a defensive perspective and earning a second European Cup.

HELPS INTER EARN A GOLDEN STAR

1965/1966 Season

Inter successfully defended their Intercontinental Cup in one-sided rematches against Independiente. From a tactical point of view, Herrera had begun to innovate, utilising Facchetti as an occasional makeshift striker, which enabled the Italian to score 10 goals in the championship. Burgnich was increasingly becoming the defensive leader in the backline as Picci to began to roam more often seeking to influence the build up. Domestically Inter retained their focus, leading by the halfway stage ahead of Napoli and local rivals Milan. In the second half of the season, these threats would fade away and it was a resurgent Bologna who put up the biggest fight. Ultimately Inter would earn their first Golden Star (10th League Title).

In Europe, Inter sought to win their third consecutive European Cup but cracks would begin to appear. The Nerazzurri eliminated Dinamo Bucharest (winning 2-0 at home after losing 2-1 in Romania) and Ferencváros (beaten 4-0 in the first leg before a tie for 1-1 in the return leg) before coming unstuck against a familiar foe in Real Madrid. Los Blancos were no longer a team reliant on Di Stefano and Puskas and were now nicknamed the 'Ye-Ye's' after the Beatles, for their youthful spirit and bohemian hairstyles... their energy would prove to be too hot to handle for an increasingly stagnant Inter who lacked the sharpness to put away the chances that did fleetingly come in their direction.

FIFA WORLD CUP 1966

Despite Burgnich's rapid ascent in the game, success in the international arena was proving hard to come by. Italy went into the World Cup as one of the favourites based on their dominance of the club scene but despite a solid 2-0 victory against Chile, they would come unstick against the USSR with Chislenko wrong-footing Facchetti to nail a 25 yard screamer with his weaker foot. Italy's hopes of qualifying still looked good as they needed a mere draw against the unfancied North Koreans but that would prove beyond them as a mix-up at the heart of the defence, led to Pak Do-Ik scoring one of the most famous goals in the history of the game to send Italy out in the first round. Fatally Burgnich had not been selected in this encounter having started the first two games... a decision which had cost the Italians dear.

DEFEAT AT THE HANDS OF THE LISBON LIONS

1966/1967 Season

The failure of the Italian national team at the World Cup in England led to a ban on the signing of foreign players, which inadvertently led to Inter being prevented from making moves for the likes of Pele, Beckenbauer and Eusébio. Inter who were in need of reinvention and fresh blood would be denied the opportunity to do so. Burgnich complained that the militaristic regime Herrera had imposed and used to great effect was beginning to grate on the players and have a negative impact. Quite frankly, the desire for success across all quarters of the squad was beginning to run on empty. Despite this, Inter nearly won yet another Scudetto and narrowly lost the title on the last day of the season, courtesy of a goalkeeping error which allowed Juventus to take their first title since Burgnich's departure.

In Europe, Inter got their revenge on Real Madrid by knocking them out in the Quarter-Finals. The team was much better prepared for Real's dynamism and looked to impose their game on Los Blancos rather than just sit back. Burgnich and Picci ensured that the defence kept a high line and the ball was won back quickly, with the Nerazzurri constantly on the front foot. Inter would go on to secure a 3-0 win on aggregate.

1967 European Cup Final

In the final, Inter would face Jock Stein's Celtic. Burgnich was tasked with man-marking Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone, Celtic's best player and one of the finest right wingers of all time. Burgnich did his best to contain Johnstone for the entire match but in truth had been led a merry dance with Johnstone purposefully being instructed to roam across the pitch and take Burgnich out of the picture, leaving the Inter backline exposed. By acting as the decoy, Johnstone was essential to Celtic's victory and in retrospect highlighted just how over reliant Inter had become on Burgnich's defensive abilities at the back.

IS THE END NIGH?

1967-1968 Season

The outcome of the previous season - with the narrow misses in the league and European Cup proved to be the fatal for the Grande Inter project. The starting XI lost key pillars in the form of Picchi, Guarneri and Jair and the team was never to be the same again. In the league, draws with Sampdoria, Juventus and home defeats to Napoli and Cagliari confirmed a disastrous fifth place finish, Having finished second last year and failing to defend the European Cup, Inter did not play in any European competition and finished trophyless.

1968 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Semi-Finals

Italy had qualified for the last 4 of the European Championships and were the designated hosts, Their first game was against the USSR, who had defeated them in the 1966 World Cup. The Soviet Union missed Igor Chislenko who had given Facchetti the run around in 1966 and Italy sought to take the game to their opponents by deploying Mazzola and Rivera at the same time but this plan fell flat with an injury to the Golden Boy, which meant Italy were effectively down to 10 men for the rest of the game. With both teams unable to be separated even after extra time, the game would go to a 'toss of a coin' (penalty shoot-outs had not been invented yet) and Italy would go through.

The final against Yugoslavia would take two matches as the first game ended in a draw. Burgnich had initially struggled with facing Dzajic, allowing the Yugoslavian magician to score the opening goal in the first encounter but in the replay, Burgnich had his finest game in an Italian shirt, completely neutralising Dzajic who was unable to go down the line or even cut in.. as Burgnich matched him stride for stride. Eventually Dzajic switched flanks trying to escape the man-marker from hell, only to find that Burgnich was happy to roam across the pitch and follow him. Italy eventually won the replay 2–0, with the goals coming from Luigi Riva, a low left foot shot inside the area and Pietro Anastasi with another low left foot shot.

LATE CAREER AND RETIREMENT

LE GRANDE INTER IS NO MORE

1968-1969 Season

With Herrera no longer at the helm, Inter were no longer 'Le Grande Inter'. The squad was ageing, with the likes of Luis Suarez hitting 34 but the likes of Burgnich, Facchetti and Mazzola were theoretically still very much in their prime. With limited activity in the transfer market, Inter managed to secure a fourth placed finish in the league. Fiorentina won the championship with 45 points, in second place was Cagliari and Milan (the eventual European Cup winners) with 41 points, In the Italian Cup Inter were eliminated in the first round. Burgnich who was still very much a model of consistency at a club falling at the seams secured the most appearances once again.

SIGNS OF A REVIVAL

1969/1970 Season

The summer of 1969 saw the arrival on the Inter bench of Heriberto Herrera and key signing of Roberto Boninsegna who came from Cagliari in a trade for Angelo Domenghini, Sergio Gori and Cesare Poli. Despite the loss of such a key forward, Cagliari went from strength to strength with Gigi Riva thriving under the guidance of manager Manlio Scopigno and his offensive tactics, scoring several decisive goals that ultimately helped the club win the championship.

Despite Bonimba's substantial contribution, the Nerazzurri never entered the fight for the title and only finished second due to a late collapse by Juventus but Burgnich had seen enough to know there was some 'fight' back in the squad. In Europe, Inter had a strong run in the Fairs Cup eliminating the likes of Sparta Prague, Hansa Rostock, Barcelona and Hertha Berlin before falling to Anderlecht.

THE 1970 FIFA WORLD CUP

Group Stage

Burgnich's big campaign wearing the Azzurri was in the 1970 World Cup. Group 2 was the lowest-scoring of the groups with only six goals in its six matches as Uruguay, reigning South America champions, and Italy, the reigning European champions, edged past Sweden and Israel. The Italians won the group despite only scoring one goal—a 10th-minute strike by Angelo Domenghini in their opening contest against Sweden.

Quarter-Finals

In the Quarter-Finals, the host nation was paired against Italy in the smaller Toluca venue. Mexican officials unsuccessfully appealed to FIFA to stage their game in the capital to avoid traffic problems. The hosts took the lead against Italy with a José Luis González goal, but his teammate Javier Guzmán equalised with an own goal before half-time. Italy then dominated the second half to progress to the semi-finals with a 4–1 win.

Semi-Final

Italy and West Germany produced a match regarded by many as one of the greatest World Cup games of all time. Italy led from the eighth minute through Roberto Boninsegna's strike, Burgnich was outstanding at the heart of Italy's defence, and had marked Muller out of the game but he was taken by surprise when sweeper Karl-Heinz Schnellinger made an unprecedented run into the box and scored his only international goal.

The first half of extra time saw Muller capitalise on some comical defending by Fabrizio Poletti before Burgnich capped off his phenomenal display by equalising with a thumping left foot shot in the 6 yard box after confusion from a set piece. Riva then scored before the end of the first half of extra time to put Italy 3-2 up. Germany held siege to the Italian penalty area but Burgnich was heading and acrobatically clearing every ball until Muller took advantage of a knock on and made it 3-3...despite the Italian's best defensive efforts, they were leaking goals. Yet a minute later Italy had scored after a wonderful move from the restart... and were not going to let this lead slip...

Final

“I thought Pelé was made of flesh and blood, like me. I was wrong"

An exhausted but exuberant Italian side faced off against arguably the greatest International team of all time in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Burgnich was given the unenviable task of man-marking Pele. Pele was no longer the dynamic force of old but he was physically stronger, able to withstand heavy marking and more unpredictable as he was more of a 'team player' rather than looking to carry the ball. Burgnich realised the measure of his task when on the 18th minute Pele out jumped him and outmuscled him to plant a header into the bottom corner from Rivelino's cross.

Burgnich managed to keep up with Pele on the ground, not allowing the Brazilian to beat him one on one but he was once again done in the air, when Pele beat him in the air and set up Jairzinho to put the game out of sight and make it 3-1. A broken Burgnich could only watch on as Pele set up Carlos Alberto after a flowing team move and watch the ball hit the back of the net... 4-1 and the only major trophy to elude Burgnich would remain elusive.

FORM IS TEMPORARY, CLASS IS PERMANENT

1970/1971 Season

Heriberto Herrera's second season began with the sale of Luis Suárez to Sampdoria after nine years with the Nerazzurri. This didn't quite have the desired effect as Inter were knocked out of the first rounds of the Italian Cup and by Newcastle in the Fairs Cup. With performances in the league not much better, his services were dispensed with and Giovanni Invernizzi, a former youth coach was given the role.

Burgnich was now deployed as a sweeper, taking on the role that was once entrusted to Picchi and would be responsible for organising the backline whilst the likes of Jair would be brought back from the cold and be given a second chance. These tactical tweaks had a stunning impact and Inter came back from 8th place to overtake city rivals Milan with Boninsegna scoring at a prolific rate and eventually being named top scorer as Inter regained the title with two games to spare.

FINAL SHOT AT 'BIG EARS'

1971-1972 Season

Hopes of a revival of the 'Le Grande Inter' era evaporated after a dismal defence of the title. In an admittedly ferociously fought battle Inter only secured 36 points which constituted a fifth place finish with the league title being won by Juventus with 43 points, ahead of Milan and Torino with 42 points, Cagliari fourth with 39 points. In the Coppa Italia, the Nerazzurri win qualifying group 1, then in the final group they lost to Milan, who won the cup.

The Can Incident

Inter returned to the European Cup after five years of absence knowing this could be their final shot at the biggest club prize in football. Having easily passed the first round against AEK Athens, Inter faced Borussia Mönchengladbach in the round of 16. The first leg to Germany went down in history as the " can game". With Borussia leading 2-1, Roberto Boninsegna collapsed on the ground hit by an object. The Nerazzurri, barely held back by coach Invernizzi, besieged the Dutch referee Jef Dorpmans asking for the match to be suspended.

Günter Netzer saw the can on the ground and threw it at a policeman who immediately made it disappear under his coat. At this point the Inter captain, Mazzola, noticed two Italian fans over the fences and that one of them was drinking from a can of Coca-Cola . He rushed over to them, passed the can and handed it to the referee pretending it was evidence of the crime. In the meantime Boninsegna did not seem to be able to recover and the Inter doctor ordered his replacement. At the end of the game, which ended 7-1 for the Germans, the Inter demanded that a rematch be held as they were 'dazed' because of the incident.

A rematch was given but first the Germans would have to travel to the San Siro where Inter won 4-2. The repetition of the first leg was held in Berlin on 1 December 1971 where Burgnich marshalled the Inter backline to play for a goalless draw and secure their place in the quarter-finals where they defeated Standard Liège.This set up a revenge match against Celtic in the semi-finals - though this time Burgnich was in no mood to man-mark Johnstone and be led a merry dance.

At the start of the second half in the second leg, Connelly burst through for the first time and an otherwise imperious Burgnich inadvertently almost scored an own goal when making a last ditch interception with the ball bouncing off the crossbar. Other than that after a gruelling series of fixtures, Burgnich and his fellow defenders failed to yield an inch and the game went to penalties after 210 goalless minutes across the two legs, where Inter secured a 5-4 victory in the shootout.

1972 European Cup Final

In the final, Inter were set to meet the greatest team in Europe at the time, Ajax - Burgnich would have to try and contain the talented Johan Cruyff. During the game as Cruyff was playing as a false 9 and operating deeper, Burgnich didn't engage him and instead focused on sweeping at the back which meant it was left to Oriali in midfield to carry out the man-marking duties. He struggled badly with Cruyff twisting him this way and that but by half-time, the Dutch had struggled to actually get on the score sheet.

At the start of the second half however Cruyff embarked on an iconic run which would have gone down in history, beating multiple men at high speed and knocking it around a statuesque Burgnich only to be stopped in his tracks by some last ditch Inter defending when bearing down on the goalkeeper. This seemed to shake up the Inter defence and moments later, Cruyff capitalised on a mix-up between the Inter keeper and Burgnich to slot the ball into the empty net. This was followed by another aerial goal in which he somehow beat Burchnich and Facchetti combined to plant the ball into the top corner. Ajax had shown they were prepared to win the ugly way and Cruyff had exposed the limitation of Burgnich as a central defender of the highest order.

END DAYS OF A FALLEN EMPIRE

1972/1973 Season

Burgnich was 33 going into this season and he was beginning to feel it. The last vestiges of the Inter empire were crumbling before his very eyes and he was sensing that his own days were numbered. Giovanni Invernizzi was let go after a series of poor performances in the league and was duly replaced by Enea Masiero who could only muster a 5th place finish from his troops. In the UEFA Cup, Inter beat the Maltese of Valletta in the first round, in the second round the Swedes of Norrkoping, before being knocked out in the round of 16 against Vitória Setúbal of Portugal.

1973/1974 Season

In a desperate attempt to bring back the glory days, Inter re-hired Helenio Herrera but the 'Wizard' suffered a heart attack shortly into his regime and was replaced by Enea Masiero who led Inter to a 4th place finish and a round of 32 finish in the UEFA Cup.

RUTHLESSLY SOLD TO NAPOLI

1974/1975 Season

After twelve years at Inter and due to the injury sustained at the 1974 Football World Cup in Germany, many at Inter considered Bugnich to be finished. He learned from Francesco Janich, then manager of Naples, that he had been transferred to the Campania team. During his time at Napoli, the team nearly won the Scudetto in the 1974-1975 season, when the team took second place two points behind the championship winner by Juventus.

1975/1976 Season

The following season Burgnich won the only domestic trophy which had eluded him, the Italian Cup, scoring his only goal for Napoli during the process and the following season he won the Italian-English League cup, where Napoli beat Southampton over two legs. Napoli also reached the semifinal for the first time in a European competition, the Cup Winners' Cup, being eliminated by Anderlecht. Despite the cup successes, Napoli finished 5th place in the league.

1976/1977 Season

Napoli were even poorer the following season, finishing 7th place finish during the 1976/1977 season. After a dispute with Luís Vinício with regards to zonal marking, he only played 6 games post January 1977 and 'The Rock' took the opportunity to call it a day.

POST RETIREMENT

After his retirement, Burgnich worked as a manager on and off for nearly twenty years, with little success. During this time he managed Catanzaro, Bologna, Como, Livorno, Foggia, Lucchese, Cremonese, Genoa, Ternana and Vicenza.

TACTICAL ANALYSIS

A ROCK ON THE GROUND

Burgnich was a tenacious man-marker who possessed an intimidating stocky physique and yet also had the quickness of mind and movement to cope with the most agile of opposition. He was the personal embodiment of the Le Grande Inter ‘Cattenaccio’ approach, with his game highly geared towards neutralising the opposition first and foremost and then possessing the skill to exploit the oppositions weaknesses. Whilst Burgnich wasn’t the most technically gifted of full backs and especially in comparison to Fachetti, he was composed and smooth in possession for a supposed ‘hard man’.

The biggest opponents he arguably struggled with was Pele in the 1970 World Cup Final, Cruyff in the 1972 European Cup FInal and against Jimmy Johnstone in the 1967 European Cup final. Jimmy took the approach of refusing to engage Burgnich in battle, aware that Burgnich was gifted at anticipating the nimblest of hip swivellers.. having marked out the likes of Gento. He instead chose to free up space for his team mates by roaming across the pitch and unsettle the confused Inter defence. In contrast Pele and Cruyff dominated Burgnich in the air, fearlessly taking on the physicality of Burgnich and exposing it on the biggest stage. They too didn't directly engage Burgnich whilst running at it but focused on his aerial deficiencies.. he wasn't a natural centre-back and it showed.

His mastery of Dzajic and Gento illustrated that Burgnich was one of the very elite defensive full-backs but ultimately his attacking game was too limited and he was exposed too often albeit against some of the finest players of all time to be considered in the same breath as the likes of Djalma.

IN HIS OWN WORDS...

With me Herrera has always played with a Libero. He never gave up on this idea. I remember a defeat in Bologna, we lost 2-0 and we had a fight. I asked him: " But when an opposing attacker crosses the middle and has no more scoring, why can't I get on him and ask the Libero to take care of my player ?! It was a categorical " no " from him: " Always take care of your man, and basta ".

Burgnich on raising tactical concerns to Herrera

Everyone always talks about catenaccio by referring to our game in the 1960s. But catenaccio , they all do today to defend with ten men over thirty meters as soon as a good team comes in front. The game is often very closed, more than in my time. We took the ball out on Suárez, and then the team did wonders for quick attacks. It was also a philosophy based on talent. Today, this is what is missing in Italian football: Suárez and Corso. Players who make a difference. Systems, diagrams, it's one thing. But Bayern, Barça, Chelsea and others win because they have the right men. Italian football had to sell a lot, and today it lacks excellence and talent.

Burgnich on over-defensive Italian teams

In 1965, we played in the final of the Champion Clubs' Cup against Benfica de Eusébio. We defend a corner. I had to mark Simões. Except that at one point, he comes out of the surface, and there I shout to Guarneri, closer to him, that I take charge of Eusébio. They take the corner, Simões goes around us and passes a few centimeters to score. At half-time, Il Mago comes to see me to ask me what happened and explains to me: " What is Simões doing there?" Even if he's in the bathroom, you're supposed to be in front of him!

Burgnich on his attention to detail