Inter Milan captain Javier Zanetti said an emotional farewell on his last appearance as a player at the San Siro on Saturday after 19 years at the club as they recovered to thump Lazio 4-1 and secure a Europa League spot for next season.
Inter scored four excellent goals against a spirited Lazio side but it was Zanetti who got the loudest cheer of the night when he came on as a 52nd minute substitute to make his 857th appearance for the Milan club.
He was given a moving reception by a bumper San Siro crowd, missing the ultra fans on the Curva Nord which has been closed for three matchesa after offensive chanting in last month's 0-0 draw with Napoli and the 1-0 Milan derby defeat last weekend.
The 40-year-old Zanetti rolled back the years with some of his characteristic marauding runs up the right flank and after the game was given a guard of honour as he came back on to the pitch to address the crowd.
"You know how difficult it must be for me to speak right now. I want to think all my team mates, everyone who has lived these years with me," a teary-eyed Zanetti said.
"My only desire was to defend and honour the Inter jersey. I ask you to love this club, just as I will love it forever," he added as he prepares for a role off the pitch at Inter.
"I am happy for this wonderful career wearing this jersey, which I truly love. Now I must do something else. I don't know if I will do it well, but I can say that I will defend Inter the way I defended it on the field. Thank you."
In added time an Inter supporter wearing a replica shirt with "ZANETTI" on the back got on to the pitch and had to be escorted away by the defender, who spoke to the fan and was given a standing ovation by the whole crowd as he did so.
Inter's Rodrigo Palacio struck either side of a neat first-time finish from Mauro Icardi in the first half beofre a powerful long-range strike from ex-Lazio midfielder Hernanes 11 minutes from time gave the hosts an impressive victory.
Lazio had taken the lead in the second minute with Giuseppe Biava's tap-in but that was as good as it got for the visitors.