Joaquin Peiró passed away today at 84. He was a striker for the Grande Inter, an invincible Nerazzurri lineup that won everything possible between 1962 and 1966 – Three Scudetto, two European Cups and one Intercontinental Cup.
Peiró, the second Spaniard to ever set foot in the Serie A – following his teammate Luis Suarez – spent only two years at coach Helenio Herrera’s court. He eventually moved to Roma, as the strong competition from Brazilian Jair da Costa and his fellow countryman Suarez left him little playing time in an age when each Serie A team was allowed to lineup only two foreign players.
Still, Peiró won an immortal spot – even if only as an alternate – in that magic formation that every Nerazzurro fan knows by heart and can declaim all in one breath: Sarti-Burgnich-Facchetti-Bedin-Guarneri-Picchi-Jair-Mazzola-Milani (Peiró)-Suárez-Corso.
Peiró did give his contribution to the birth of the legend of the Grande Inter, netting 8 goals in 2 Serie A seasons, but his name has an even more important resonance due to his international exploits. The goal he scored against Liverpool in a European Cup 1964-65 Semi-Final invariably grabs one of the top spots in any Nerazzurro’s all-time hall of fame.
Inter had won the top European competition the previous year, but after losing 1-3 at Anfield Road in the first leg they seemed close to vacate the throne. However, after Mario Corso scored the first in the retour match at San Siro, Peiró doubled for the Nerazzurri with an absurd feat that was a blend of timing, determination, guile, and probably everything that football was back in those days.
The shaky video recording of the match shows a long-range pass towards Liverpool area and Peiró running towards the ball. From the right of the screen, enter Liverpool goalkeeper, Tommy Lawrence. The imposing goalie promptly catches the ball, basically trampling Peiró in the process in what most modern-day referees would consider a crystal-clear penalty foul.
Lawrence must have thought he had knocked him unconscious as he completely forgot that the Inter striker was now behind him. And so, as he confidently made the ball bounce two-three times before putting it back in play, Peiró sneaked in from behind and stole it like an angry kid retaliating against his bully. He then shot it between the untended sticks for Inter’s 2-0 and, despite all hell breaking loose, the goal was allowed. The rest is history.
Inter would go on to beat Benfica in the Final played at home in Milan to complete their back-to-back winning of the European Cup. A few months later, the Nerazzurri would also conquer the Intercontinental Cup after thrashing Independiente of Argentina on a 3-0 aggregate score.
The first goal in the intercontinental showdown was another exploit by Joaquin Peiró – a minor hero in the Grande Inter saga, but who unforgettably linked his name to Helenio Herrera’s magic lineup’s triumphs. Inter fans will miss him.