Francesco Acerbi’s journey to the Champions League final is nothing short of remarkable. After overcoming depression, alcoholism, and cancer, the Inter Milan central defender, now 35 years old, conquered AC Milan in the semi-finals, contributing significantly to their 3-0 aggregate win. With Acerbi’s help, Inter made it through to their first Champions League final since 2010. AC Milan’s Olivier Giroud in action with Inter Milan’s Francesco Acerbi (REUTERS)
Pitted against relentless attacks by AC Milan, Acerbi never lost sight of Olivier Giroud. He was always aware of the Frenchman’s location, shinning away balls launched by Junior Messias and giving Milan’s Rafael Leao a hard time in front of Inter goal. Acerbi won many vital challenges, including intercepting a pass from Leao to Giroud that might have led to Milan’s only goal of the match. Italian daily ‘Gazzetta dello Sport’ called Acerbi the “leader” of the Inter team.
A veteran of Serie A, Acerbi made his debut at the age of 22. After spending a season at AC Milan, he played for Sassuolo and Lazio before joining Inter Milan in 2022. In 2013, Acerbi was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which inspired him to overcome alcohol addiction. He said he found his fighting spirit again during his battle with cancer, which he defeated and went on to represent Italy’s national team in 2014 and 2021’s European Championship.
Simone Inzaghi, Inter Milan’s manager, is also responsible for the club’s outstanding season, leading them to their first Champions League final since 2010. After taking his post mid-season, Inzaghi overcame a series of setbacks in the form of a string of defeats against Serie A teams below Inter in the standings. However, the team’s strong unity helped them through the group stages, where they faced off against Bayern Munich and Barcelona, and then saw them progress through the knockout stages with wins against Porto, Benfica and finally, AC Milan.
Previously, Inzaghi played soccer professionally, where he was part of the Italian team that won the FIFA World Cup 2006, and before applying as a coach, he spent four years in Serie A as a manager for Lazio. Success has come to Inzaghi even after Inter sold several key players, including Ivan Perisic and Romelu Lukaku, while also struggling with financial difficulties. now, Inter looks forward to the Coppa Italia final and their match with Napoli. With Inzaghi and Acerbi at the helm, Inter promises to continue their triumphant strides in the world of football.